Also known as the Elegant tang, or Indian orangespine unicornfish, the Blond naso is a member of the surgeonfish family. Two bright orange spines can be seen extending from the base of the tail. These spines are said to be “as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel”, hence the name surgeonfish. This species was once thought to be a different color variety of the Lipstick tang, Naso lituratus, but is now considered its own species. The Blond naso is primarily a herbivore and can be found in coral reefs throughout the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
What may look like glowing eyes are actually organs beneath each eye that are inhabited by symbiotic bioluminescent bacteria. There are eight species of Flashlightfish found in warm seas around the world. Like their relatives, the Orange roughy and the squirrelfish, they are nocturnal animals that retreat to caves beneath reefs in the daytime, and hunt for small animals in shallower water at night.
The Ribbon seadragon, more accurately described as a pipehorse, is a close relative of the seahorses and pipefish. Depicted as the “Rainbow serpent” in the Aboriginal rock art of Arnhem Land, the Ribbon seadragon was believed to have special powers. In 2006, The DWA became the first aquarium in the world to successfully breed this relatively unknown species. Like other Syngnathids, the Ribbon seadragon feeds on very small shrimp known as mysid shrimp. Unlike their cousins the Leafy (Phycodurus eques) and Weedy seadragons (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), the male Ribbon seadragon possesses a pouch and can give birth to more than 800 fully developed offspring at a time.
The Copperband or Beaked butterfly fish is a popular species, but can be a finicky aquarium inhabitant. By nature, the Copperband butterfly feeds on coral polyps, its long slender mouth perfectly suited for this task. In aquariums, the Copperband butterfly is often introduced as a “natural” pest control solution for nuisance anemones such as Aiptasia spp. The dark spot near back half of the dorsal fin is believed to be a “false eyespot” which can fool would-be predators into thinking the fish’s eye is on the opposite end, giving the fish a chance of escape.
The Blue hippo tang, also known as the Palette tang, or Hepatus tang, is a popular member of the Acathuridae family. This omnivorous fish can be found in small schools throughout the Indo-Pacific region and was made famous when featured as the character “Dory” in the Disney / Pixar movie, “Finding Nemo”. Like other members of the surgeonfish family, the Blue hippo tang is armed with a sharp spine at the base of its tail. This species, however, has an added weapon in the fact that the spine is armed with a venom gland, which can inflict a bee-like sting to its victim.
Comb wrasses are named for the comb-like markings on their side. These fish are rarely displayed in public aquariums. The DWA has displayed this species since 1994. This sub tropical fish can be found in coastal waters of Southeastern Australia, Lord Howe Island, and New South Wales. It feeds on small crabs and shrimp and the juveniles may clean other fishes.
This fairy basslet is very rare in American aquariums, because it is normally found at depths of 600 to 900 feet, so is difficult and dangerous to collect. It has a wide range, from South Africa (where it lives with Coelacanths!) to Japan and the Palau Islands. It commonly swims upside down, beneath rock formations.
In most of the swallowtail angelfish species, the male has a more complicated pattern than the female. This species, found from the Philippines to remote islands of the South Pacific, is an exception. The male has a pattern of gold strips bordering a broad pinkish band. The female has a striking pattern of black, white, and purplish-blue. The Latin word “bellus” means “beautiful”. The Greek word “genicanthus” means “cheek spine”.
The Chocolate surgeonfish is also known as the Mimic tang because as a juvenile it is yellow or cream colored and is thought to mimic several species of pygmy angelfish. As it matures, the yellow coloration changes to become more chocolate brown. The mimicry is thought to be a protective strategy that allows the tang to feed without being attacked by damselfish competing for the same food sources. Like other species of surgeonfish, the Chocolate surgeonfish bears a sharp spine on either side of the base of its tail.
The Fathead anthias is also known as the Sunburst anthias because of the splash of yellow color on its face. It was originally described in 1949 and was placed in the hawkfish family. Its genus means grouper-hawkfish. These hardy aquarium fish generally prefer the protection of an overhang, or cave and can often be seen swimming upside down. Unlike their other anthias cousins, they have a deep body and elongate pectoral fins.