The body of the Blackeye goby (Rhinogobiops nicholsii) is usually a light beige to olive in color with darker spots and mottling. The body coloration and its spots can change if needed. A thick black edge can be seen on the fore-dorsal fin. The raised, big black eyes are responsible for its common name.
Pot-bellied seahorses, as the name suggests, have a large swollen belly. Like other seahorses, this species comes in a wide range of colors – brown, yellow, gray, white, orange or mottled with dark spots on its head and trunk. They have a forward-tilted, long-snouted head, eyes that can move independently of each other and a prehensile tail. Males and females differ in appearance. Males have a longer tail, a shorter snout and a smooth soft pouch-like area at the base of the abdomen. Females have more of a pointed stomach.
The “false eye” on the flanks of this fish is much larger than the real one in its head. This is a classic example of a distraction pattern which misleads predators into aiming for the rear of the fish, rather than its head. Similar eye-like spots are seen in other fishes and many insects. This is an abundant species in the Caribbean and the Southern Gulf of Mexico. In the summer, young specimens drift up the Atlantic coast with plankton, as far north as New England. This species has been popular in public aquariums for more than a hundred years.
While many angelfish have broad ranges in the Pacific or Atlantic, others are found in only a few locations. One of the more famous is this beautiful species, named for Clarion, one of the Revillagigedo Islands off the Pacific coast of Mexico. These islands are its center of distribution, but they are also found around remote Clipperton Island, and occasionally around the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Though kept in aquariums for more than 40 years, it remains a prized exhibit, collected only under special permit from the Mexican Government.
Named for its profile reminiscent of a French military cap, this fish is also known as the Humphead, and Maori wrasse (for its intricate cheek designs that look tattooed), and, because of its enormous size, Truck wrasse. The largest of all the wrasses, males can grow more than six feet in length and weigh over 300 pounds. In common with many other large Indo-Pacific reef fishes, it has been over-exploited by Chinese restaurants that serve live fishes. Trade of this animal is protected under CITES.
Like other fairy basslets, the Carberryi or Threadfin anthias lives in small schools composed of a dominant male and his harem of females. This species is found only in the Indian Ocean. It was described for science in 1954, one of 370 new fish species named by the famous South African ichthyologist J.L.B. Smith, who rediscovered the Coelacanth.
Many of the 80 or so members of the tang and surgeonfish family have wide ranges across tropical seas, but this uniquely spotted species is restricted to Madagascar, the nearby East African Coast, and the Mascarene Islands. As few fishes are exported from these places, it has seldom been seen in public aquariums.
Scorpionfish, in general, are notorious for the venomous spines which give them their family name. The six members of the genus Rhinopias stand out for their magnificently bizarre appearance. Their story-book dragon faces, ornate fins, and peculiar under-water waddle, make them fascinating. This species, from the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific, was unknown to science until 1977, when it was named to honor the American authority on scorpionfish, who described two other new Rhinopias species in 1973.
The DWA was one of the first facilities in the US to successfully maintain and display these beautifully ornate relatives of the seahorse. Due to their specialized dietary and habitat requirements, this species has not reproduced successfully in an aquarium environment. The DWA is an industry leader in the husbandry of this species and hopes to help find the key to their reproduction in the future. Leafy and Weedy seadragons are strictly protected and export is carefully regulated.
Like its better-known relative, the Leafy seadragon, the Weedy seadragon is considered a highly specialized pipefish, rather than a true seahorse. The males of all pipefishes and seahorses receive the eggs from the female after they are laid and brood them until they hatch. Unlike male seahorses who store eggs in a brood pouch, seadragons attach eggs to a brood patch. The Weedy seadragon is the Marine Emblem of the Australian State of Victoria while the “Leafy” is the Marine Emblem for South Australia.