Common Florida Reef Fish Craig Kasper, Ph. D. Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL
BANDED BUTTERFLYFISHChaetodon striatus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Two wide, black midbody bands. DESCRIPTION: Silver to white, black bar on head runs across eye; blackish border on rear of body, base of rear dorsal and anal fins.
FOUREYE BUTTERFLYFISHChaetodon capistratus • DISTINCTIVE • FEATURES: • Black spot, • ringed in white, • on rear • body near • upper base • of tail. • DESCRIPTION: • Silver-gray. • Marked with numerous dark, thin lines that radiate at a diagonal from • midbody; black bar on hear runs across eye; yellowish submarginal band • on rear dorsal, tail and anal fins.
SPOTFIN BUTTERFLYFISHChaetodon ocellatus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Fins (except pectoral) bright yellow. Also, notice a black dot on outer edge of rear dorsal fin. • DESCRIPTION: Silver-white. Black bar on head runs across eye; may have darkish spot on rear dorsal fin below distinctive black dot noted above.
QUEEN ANGELFISHHolacanthus ciliaris • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:1. Dark blue spot on forehead, speckled and ringed with brilliant blue, forms the "crown." 2. Tail yellow. • DESCRIPTION:Blue to greenish blue, with yellow rims on scales; yellow ventral and pectoral fins; deep blue lips and markings on gill cover; • yellowish face.
FRENCH ANGELFISHPomacanthus paru • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: • Black with bright • yellow rims on scales. Rounded tail. • DESCRIPTION:Bright yellow • ring around eye. All fins black • except base of pectoral which • is yellow. French Angelfish (Juvenile)
GRAY ANGELFISHPomacanthus arcuatus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Gray body. Yellow inner face of pectoral fin. Also, square-cut tail. • DESCRIPTION:Uniformly gray to grayish brown with light-edged scales.
ROCK BEAUTYHolacanthus tricolor • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Yellow to yellow-orange forebody and tail. Mid and rear body black. DESCRIPTION: Face and lips occasionally navy blue. Individuals along North and South American coasts less brilliantly colored.
BLUE TANGAcanthurus coeruleus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Blue overall. White or yellow spine on base of tail. DESCRIPTION: Can change from powder blue to deep purple, and pale or darken. Dorsal and anal fins edged in bright blue. More circular than other surgeonfishes.
DOCTORFISHAcanthurus chirurgus DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Always have body bars (10-12), although they may be quite faint. • DESCRIPTION:Can change from bluish gray to dark brown, and pale or darken dramatically. Several markings radiate from eye. Blue or white edging on dorsal, anal and tail fins. May have pale band on base of tail. Very similar to the Ocean Surgeonfish...doctors and surgeons....go figure!
OCEAN SURGEONFISHAcanthurus bahianus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Uniform color with no body bars. • DESCRIPTION: Can change from bluish gray to dark brown, and pale or darken dramatically. Markings radiate from eye. Blue or white edging on dorsal, anal and tail fins. May have pale band on base of tail.
BAR JACKCaranx ruber • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Bright blue-and-black border on back runs along dorsal fin and onto lower tail fin. DESCRIPTION: Silvery. Can darken almost to black, especially when feeding near bottom.
GREAT BARRACUDASphyraena barracuda • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Silver. Long, cylindrical body. Large underslung jaw, pointed teeth often obvious. DESCRIPTION: Usually has scattered, dark blotches. Can darken showing side bands. Dorsal fins widely separated.
CHUB (BERMUDA/YELLOW)Kyphosus sectatrix/incisor • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Gray to silver. "Football-shaped" body. (Note: Reliably distinguishing between these two species visually while underwater is considered impossible.) • DESCRIPTION: Initially appear uniformly gray to silver; occasionally display whitish blotches. A close look reveals thin yellow to bronze stripes on body and a stripe, bordered in white, under eye from mouth to gill cover.
FRENCH GRUNTHaemulon flavolineatum • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Yellow stripes below lateral line set on diagonal. DESCRIPTION: Yellow stripes on a white to bluish or yellowish silver background. Stripes above lateral line are horizontal. Fins yellow.
BLUESTRIPED GRUNTHaemulon sciurus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Dark tail and rear dorsal fin. Blue stripes. • DESCRIPTION: Blue stripes over yellow-gold. Dark tail and dorsal fins have light margins; other fins yellow.
YELLOWTAIL SNAPPEROcyurus chrysurus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Brilliant yellow midbody stripe and tail. • DESCRIPTION: Silvery to white, often tinged with blue. May have yellow spots on upper body. Tail deeply forked.
BICOLOR DAMSELFISHStegastes partitus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Black and white. Forebody is usually black. DESCRIPTION:Location of boundary between dark and pale area varies greatly; dark area may cover only upper head or extend past midbody to base of tail; pale area often yellowish near boundary, especially toward belly. Pale fins may have bluish cast. On rare occasion, there is a reverse color phase.
YELLOWTAIL DAMSELFISHMicrospathodon chrysurus DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Dark body. Yellow tail. • DESCRIPTION: Vary from brown to bluish black. Bright blue speckles on head, back and dorsal fin.
SERGEANT MAJORAbudefduf saxatilis • DESCRIPTION:Upper body usually yellow, occasionally with shades of green to blue, and white to bluish silver or light gray below. Male becomes dark blue to purple during mating season when guarding reddish purple egg patches. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Five black body bars. Also, upper lip does not overhang lower.
BLUE CHROMISChromis cyanea • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Brilliant blue. Slender, deeply forked tail with dark borders. • DESCRIPTION:Often dark on nape and along back.
BROWN CHROMISChromis multilineata DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Brown. Border of dorsal fin and tips of tail fin yellow. Also, dark spot around base of pectoral fin. • DESCRIPTION:Vary from brownish gray to olive-brown. Usually a white or pale yellow spot located just below last dorsal fin ray; may have black borders on tail, primarily in southern Caribbean. Slender, deeply forked tail.
HARLEQUIN BASSSerranus tigrinus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Dark, tiger-like bars. • DESCRIPTION:Upper body has whitish undercolor; lower body pale yellow. Series of dark dots form diffuse horizontal lines on body. Head more pointed than that of other family members.
FAIRY BASSLETGramma loreto • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Bicolored – purple to violet front and yellow to gold rear. Dark spot on dorsal fin. • DESCRIPTION:Several streaks on head run across eye.
STOPLIGHT PARROTFISHSparisoma viride • DESCRIPTION: Emerald green. Salmon to yellow markings on head and fins. Tail is crescent-shaped. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Bright yellow spot at upper corner of gill cover. Yellow area at base of tail. Salmon to yellow crescent on tail. Female
REDBAND PARROTFISHSparisoma aurofrenatum • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Small yellow blotch with two or more small black spots on upper forebody. Also, usually salmon to orange or yellow band from corner of mouth to below eye. • DESCRIPTION:Greenish overall, underside lighter; anal fin usually reddish. Outer tips of tail black. Tail square-cut.
YELLOWHEAD WRASSEHalichoeres garnoti • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Yellow head and forebody. Dark midbody bar. • DESCRIPTION:Head and forebody vary from bright yellow to yellowish or greenish tan; dark blue to green rear body and tail. Dark midbody bar continues as a wide border along back to tail.
BLUEHEADWRASSEThalassoma bifasciatum • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Blue head, plus two dark bars behind head, separated by white bar. • DESCRIPTION: Rear body is green to blue-green.
TRUMPETFISHAulostomus maculatus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:Long, thin body. Trumpet-like mouth. • DESCRIPTION:Adept at color change. Most common phase is brown to reddish brown; can be blue-gray, bright yellow or many shades between. Have pale lines, scattered small black spots, and a black streak on upper jaw.
Pseudupeneus maculatus SPOTTED GOATFISH • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:A row of three dark, rectangular body blotches is normally visible when fish are active (when resting, change to blotched or mottled reddish brown). Two barbels under tip of chin. • DESCRIPTION: Rapidly and dramatically change color from white to blotched and mottled red to reddish brown when becoming inactive. Light bluish lines often on head and, occasionally, upper body.
YELLOW GOATFISHMulloidichthys martinicus • DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: Yellow tail and midbody stripe. Two barbels under tip of chin. • DESCRIPTION:White; upper body may have shadings ranging from blue to olive or red. Fins, other than tail, may be white or yellowish.