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FAQs about Marine Fishes Identification

Related Articles: Marine Fishes,

Related FAQs: Marine Fishes 1, Marine Fishes 2, & FAQs on Marine: Fish Behavior, Fish Compatibility, Fish Selection, Fish Systems, Fish Feeding, Fish Disease, Fish Reproduction,

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/19/20
Thanks Bob, as always. You always give great advice and info. Would you mind helping me ID this fish? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Once again, I’d really appreciate it.
<Oh! Appears to be a Nemipterid; likely Scolopsis vosmeri (Bloch 1792), the Whitecheek Monocle Bream.>

Fish ID        3/29/19
Can you please ID this fish?
<This appears to be a very juvenile Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates. Bob Fenner>

ID please      11/26/18
Hi Bob,
<Hey Igor!>
please, tell me what species it can be? taken at Raja Ampat, less than 1 cm. I think it could be juvenile of a wrasse.
<Don't think so... but am at a loss; have asked folks on FB re who know such... their response:
"Anthony Gill The coloration and head shape is suggestive of a creediid, such as a Limnichthys species.
Joe Fish
Joe Fish that was my first thought... but the pattern seemed a bit off
Anthony Gill
Anthony Gill My other choice would be a gobiesocid - the swimming posture, general appearance and (perhaps I'm seeing things) possible presence of a pelvic sucking disk just below the pectoral fins.">
Best regards,
<Bob Fenner>

Re: ID please     11/27/18
it's really hard to identify. Limnichthys has high positioned eyes... Gobiesocidae... I used to think they have flattened head. however Pherallodus indicus has an acute head and resembles the photo in some way.
Could be it?
<Might well be... BobF>

Red Sea fish ID     10/12/18
Dear Mr. Bob,
<Hey Mohammed>
I'm Mohammed Hassaan from Egypt. Please I need your help about this fish ID
I searched a lot on Fishbase.org and could not find it.
Thank you, Mohammed Hassaan
<This is a juvenile Parrotfish, Family Scaridae (Labridae for some); I believe it's a Chlorurus gibbus. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chlorurus.htm
Bob Fenner>

Cozumel Scuba; fish ID      7/3/18
Found in Cozumel about 40 feet deep. Can’t seem to identify it. Any ideas? Most reminds me of Bulbonaricus brauni, but that’s in the wrong ocean.
<Ah yes; think this is the Chaenopsid, Stathmonotus hemphillii
Nice find! BobF>
Thank you,
Henry C. Schultz, III
Salty Endeavors
Re: Cozumel Scuba     7/3/18

<Welcome. Thank you for sharing. Have never encountered; in Coz, period! BobF>

FISH ID      10/5/17
<Ohhhh, where did you get/collect this fish from? BobF>
Not very active he either sits on the ground or he'll hide in the back of the powerhead he tends to go head-to-head with the peppermints but he doesn't attack them he kind of just sits there he's got four black circles on his back and there orange lined

Re: FISH ID      10/5/17
It's a friend of mine LFS someone surrendered it. Why.?
<Brings to mind a local (S. Cal.) Blennioid... found off the coast. Helps me to narrow down the species ID. BobF>
Re: FISH ID      10/5/17

Collected by a diver friend that a local fish store of mine my friend knows from the Gulf of Mexico that's where he's pretty sure but definitely Florida not sure how close toward the keys Gulf of Mexico or if it was like up towards the Panhandle part of the Gulf of Mexico but who knows it could just be near the keys but I don't know it's kind of like shimmies like almost collides on the bottom he's very aware and I watched him literally like not attack but he was going toe-to-toe with the peppermint shrimp and he went forward the peppermint went for it and they both kind of like we're like staring each other down but they never end up hurting each other or even trying to put it was just funny but it's a weird looking fish and has a cup filefish tip with like dragonette qualities
<I do think this fish is Paraclinus marmoratus. Bob Fenner>
Re: FISH ID      10/5/17
Surrendered he didn't.

I called the LFS my friends who owns the store has his own diver get fish so there humanly caught higher prices but better chance of disease not being an issue.
<Ah good>
He caught this fish in the GULF of Mexico of Florida's West coast,. After weeks of tank animation he hooks up
a box truck retrofitted with a wall of tanks. Inverters connected to battery. To inverters just from Wal-Mart can push 2000 Watts so he runs return pump and heater// our the trucks cooler "like a good truck cooler". after that are tank stabilized for maybe 3/4wks. The other side of the truck is the invert wall.. Heck my 120 with two xr30 Radions of Vectra M1 and MP40 to Jagger 250 maxspect s200 protein skimmer about 4 Maxijet 1200 running different reactors to 200w heaters I don't have a cooler because I live in Buffalo if anything I just dropped a Gatorade ice Gatorade bottle instead of the return pump my temperature is always consistently at 79 degrees so I mean all he basically need this is maybe 3 decent size return pumps he put some Maxi Jets lower models in the tanks with fish that need more water flow than others no feeding obviously throughout the time do too obvious reasons but it's only 12 hours so it's not going to hurt anybody this way when they arrive they're not shell
shocked and starving...
>Sounds good<
He doesn't like to collect coral but honestly this has to be the coolest and most humane way to bring fish from Florida to Buffalo.... Each 10-20-29 gal tank has certain fish based on their size aggression Etc but they all have consistently flowing water it's only a 12-hour trip so there's not much need for the worry of ammonia or nitrite
Spike's because he stops halfway and does a like 20% water change and also uses I think some sort of amp well or prime he brings them in catches them bags them and brings them into the store individually from the truck but
like I said there was no surrender
<Matt; I don't know what you're referring to here. Surrender?><<Ahh, Bob, the fish was wild-caught, i.e. NOT surrendered from a former hobbyist/owner>>
I was just assuming the fish he can't really sell it because he doesn't know what it is and he doesn't want to
sell it without getting more information on if it's reef safe what it can and can't be with what it can and cannot kill or what it eats it's been in their few months meaning obviously it eats the basic Frozen but I mean eating like does it eat coral does it eat sponges does it eat you know polyps on corals does he need at pages does it eat whatever that's why I said hey let me message wet web and see what they have to think. As far as it being some sort of blenny he's a very slow-moving I know my bunnies Dart across the tank so fast like a lightning bolt lawnmower blenny should be called John Deere blennies because they're fast as a MF
<Did you not get my prev. email? I think this is Paraclinus marmoratus. Bob Fenner>
Re: FISH ID      10/5/17

Paraclinus marmoratus. I didn't get that. No..... Someone wrote after I days maybe surrendered (why?)
<? I still don't get it>
Re: FISH ID      10/5/17

Exactly right on the identification thank u Bob. Mr. Fenner sorry
Paraclinus marmoratus.
<Cheers Matt. B>

Fish ID          3/10/17
I've been really busy packing and such for vacation that I haven't even had time to check my own email. A coworker of mine sent me some pictures and wanted a fish identified. Pretty sure it's freshwater but I haven't really looked at it too well. Photos attached. Not sure if they're too big or not.
Please let me know when you get these.
Gabe Walsh
WWM Crew
<At first glance; this looks, looked like an Eelpout or such (family Zoarcidae)... Some relatives are freshwater, but most all are marine. Any chance of a larger, full-body pic? Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish ID          3/10/17
That's all the info they had for me. Thanks for the help.
Gabe Walsh
<Will post on WWM (and would on Facebook if the pix were bigger); hopeful someone will chime in. BobF>
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

Here they are again. I'm sending them actual size. May be too big for WetWeb.
Gabe Walsh
<Thanks Gabe; have cropped, spiffed and posted on FB for help. B>

Re: Fish ID          3/10/17
<Gabe.... what the? Is this a leucistic Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? A CAE?!!!
Here they are again. I'm sending them actual size. May be too big for WetWeb.
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

You seem excited about this. Did I miss something? :) Rare find?
<Not rare; excited because it IS so common. B>
Gabe Walsh
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

Ok. I never considered it being a CAE. It looks to me like the mouth is on the topside of the head unlike a normal CAE.
<.... no>
You think for sure that's what it is?
<Highly likely an "albino" (not albino) CAE; olde>
I haven't done freshwater in years...
Gabe Walsh
WWM Crew

Juvenile fish identification /Neale       6/27/16
Hello WWM crew,
We are now moored in Ft Pierce FL, where due to wind direction large amounts of Sargassum has come in on the tide. I enjoy going through it finding new and different creatures to see and Learn about. (In another life I must have been either a marine biologist or a fish) I have gotten fairly good at identifying what I come across, using your reference FAQ's and guides, but I am stumped on this fellow. Notice the lighter semi circular mark that bisects him vertically, I am unsure as to whether this is a part of his pattern or a bite that he sustained at some time. I have found no other fish like him in the large amounts of Sargassum looked at.
He was actively hiding, was not in a school nor was he acting aggressively to the other fish in the Sargassum with him. I cannot tell, without putting him under undue stress, if he is a scaled fish, from just looking at him in the holding tank I would say no scales. Also it is hard to see but his tail is forked.
Thank you again for taking the time to help in my identification of this fish. I also have slightly different views if needed.
<The shape is obviously Jack-like... so I'd put money on one of the Carangids, and if pushed, would suggest a juvenile Carangoides bartholomaei. But the western Atlantic is not my speciality; Bob, what say you? Cheers, Neale.>
Juvenile fish identification /RMF

<Kittie; how big is this fish? I've seen it, but can't seem to recall....
another friend on the Net believes this might be a juv. Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus)....Am pretty sure it is a Carangid. BobF>
<<YES! To Neale's guess:       6/27/16

Re: Juvenile fish identification      6/27/16
Glad my guess was reasonable. But with fish, you can’t be sure without counting fin spines and gill rakers!
<Ah yes; among other inputs>
There is a Smithsonian marine station at Fort Pierce, open to the public at certain times. Definitely worth getting in touch if you want help ID’ing mystery fish.
Oh, and as Bob indicates, Fishbase is an awesome reference that is very easy to use once you start thinking like a fisheries biologist.
Cheers, Neale
<Cheers, BobF>

Centropyge deborae      8/15/16
Dear Sir/Madam,
It has been a while since I contacted WWM, but I have just recently discovered, after a friend sent me a link, that the above-mentioned fish was named at WSI, although I have no animosity towards the Smith's, I am a little upset that I personally collected this fish in 1994, before WSI set up in Fiji, and although I thought it was a different fish from the other Centropyges, I was told it may be a variant phase of the coral beauty, it is quite sad that they claim to have discovered it.
<I know of this fish, the Smith's collectors first gathering this new species... It is "the rule" that such namings are "date regulated"; that is, the first "acceptable", "scientific" description and publication stands as the original. I would state that there are VERY likely other Centropyge in mesophotic depths (one can guess more likely areas by a cursive study of
zoogeography), and that for sure there are other Labrid and Anthiine species found about the Great Sea Reef. Consider getting on out, making collections and sending same to folks, institutions that do such "naming".
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
I look forward to hear from you
*Peter Savona*
*Waterlife Exporters (Fiji) Limited*
Re: Centropyge deborae      8/16/16

Hi Peter,
I just got this copied to me from Bob.
I know how frustrating it must be to think you might have discovered something only to find out later that someone else has claimed it.
As Bob points out, it is not about who saw it first but who takes the initiative to go through the long and tedious process of getting it scientifically documented. This process usually takes about two years and many specimens must be supplied to the scientist to insure it is not just a one off or variant. Only after the DNA is conclusive matching it against other closely related species and several samples are provided to prove separate identity can the "new" specimen be named.
In this case there was another famous scientist who also "discovered" this same fish before 1994 when he was a professor at USP. I am talking about Dr. Bruce Carlson and he actually has a video of a pair C. deborae mating which also appears on my web site. Bruce is a good friend of mine and we laugh about how he thought it was different but brushed it off as a variant and instead concentrated on another fish from the same reef which was also a new discovery that later became classified as the Cirrhilabrus marjorie (named after his wife Marj) which was found on the same reef. We often joke about how we both have fish named after our wives found in only one place on earth so far as we know. Up till now this fish has only been associated with Bligh water area so I am curious if your sighting was in Suva bay.
Just recently I thought I had another new discovery only to find out I was looking at a Cirrhilabrus nahackyi and then there is the other angel on my web site that still have not been confirmed as a new specie and some scientist believe it to be a variant and some say otherwise. Take a look at this as I compare it to the C. heraldi for size and swim pattern side by side.
All the best,
<Ahh; thank you for your complete, civil response Walt. Much appreciated.
Oh! And see you and Deb soon here in San Diego at the upcoming MACNA do.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Centropyge Deborae     /Peter       8/18/16

Hey Bob,
How are you, been a while, I hope you are well, truth be told, Walt is a good man, (that is why he is Cc'd as well), and his explanation is fair, yes I do understand in principal, the reasoning, but* I must admit I find it wrong in principal, that a fish is named to anyone other than the diver who collected it, at the very least, and Ideally to the first discoverer
is not the norm!!.*
<Mmm; "dem are da rules"; and makes sense that a "science type" does the naming; as they are responsible for adequately describing. The times I've been involved in such... from collecting, supplying specimens on up; the
"namer" has sought out my input for the name itself.>
I do have a photo somewhere, but I really cannot say much beyond that, as I am not a scientist, or have the money or facility to do such things, maybe if it was in Charles Darwin's time I could have got away with it, lol.
And no Walt it was not in Suva.
Thanks, and regards
Peter Savona
Waterlife Exporters (Fiji) Limited
<Thank you Peter. Hope to see you about. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Centropyge Deborae    /Walt       8/18/16
Hi Peter,
<Hey Walt, BobF kibitzing here>
Thanks for the nice words.
Not to beat a dead horse but I must point out one simple fact …. Without documented proof of discovery there is no such thing as the one who saw it first. You must realize that even though I believe you to be an honest person there are many who are not. The fact remains that Dr. Bruce Carlson actually saw it first and has documented it on video but he brushed it off as a variant and he is an expert. This actually happens a lot and that is why the proof of finding must be documented so meticulously with spine and scale count (the old way) and in recent years with conclusive DNA testing against other closely related species. I also had to prove that there were no Centropyge nox anywhere in our waters which it so closely resembled. Then multiple specimens needed to be supplied to prove it was not just a one off.
All of this work and effort is supplied by the applicant for classification and the time and effort is very consuming. Finally, when the scientific authority has conclusive proof that it is a different specie they are able to name the fish. The original name picked for this fish was Centropyge fijiensis but they asked me if I would prefer another name and I chose to honor my wife Deborah. Also the fact is that several divers were involved in the collection but they had no idea it was a different specie. I recognized this possibility and the fish “belonged” to me since they were paid by my company so I had the right to follow through with the expensive and time consuming exercise of getting it named.
On another note, if you ever find another fish you believe to be different I will be happy to show you the ropes that I followed and perhaps there is a savonei out there somewhere. :)
<I'm very sure there is/are. I saw a few undescribed species while up in Labasa>
Also, did you spot this in Bligh or up north? It was first sighted by Bruce in Bligh near Namana but we first collected it North West of Raki Raki but we now collect them in Bligh off of Nabawalau. They are very plentiful up there where we collect more than 100 in a day but we do not do this too often because, to be frank, they do not sell very well because the color is not that interesting to the aquarist. We only collect them about 3 – 4 times a year and that is all the market will bear.
Also please look at my web site and you will see Bruce’s video of a pair of C. deborae mating but what I really want you to see is the other “different” angel I have there. We have found two of these fish several years ago and the scientist is waiting for more specimens but I have not been able to find any more. Dr. Richard Pyle and Jack Randal say variant but Bruce is on the fence and Dr. Gerald Allen is also not sure. I have heard there were other collectors in Suva (now long gone) that also claim to have seen many of these but there is no proof other than I did see it on live aquaria web site and it did not come from me since I only sent mine to the scientific authority that I worked with before. It could be a variant of C. heraldi (as some suggest) but I doubt it since I have seen three specimens exactly the same and the size and swim pattern is very different than Centropyge and more like Genicanthus. Please let me know if you have seen anything like this in your waters. There are many variants of heraldi, bicolor, lemon peel mix with black tails or black splotches but this is very different and precisely marked on each specimen I have come across which is not typical of variants.
See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJIPY4t4IYo <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJIPY4t4IYo&feature=youtu.be> &feature=youtu.be
Deborae pair here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnj0JHsAIzI
Take care Peter, right now I am in LA getting ready for MACNA.
All the best,
<Thanks Walt. See you soon. BobF>

Hitchhiker fish??     5/10/15
I have a 55 gal Mixed Reef. I went to clean my tank this morning and noticed the attachment. I have tried to look up this fish but can’t find it. I can’t even think of how I received a hitchhiker fish as all the corals I have purchased have been only on plugs. I haven’t purchased rock since 2012. This tank has effectively been running in (formerly a 20g long) since 03. If you need any more info on the tank specs let me know. Can any of you over at WWM help me out?
Thanks in advance,
<... do you have a sea cucumber here? This is likely a Carapid. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hitchhiker fish??     5/10/15
Yes I do. Recently got one about a month ago or so. Is it bad? Trying to research it now?
<... Read on! BobF>

Trying to id a fish hitchhiker.     1/13/15
Good evening crew!
<Good morrow to you Rob>
Trying to id this fish. It is in a reef tank. I did not add it.
<Neat! Do you have a sea cucumber in here? This looks to be a Carapid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbkD98n1coc >
I haven't added any rock or corals big enough to conceal it, at least in my opinion, for a few months. It is about 3 1/2" to 4 1/2" long. Definitely nocturnal as the only way I discovered it was with a red light about 3 hours after the lights went out. I watched it for about 5 minutes and it just basically hovered in that position picking at the sand and a mushroom, presumably for pods. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks and I hope you are having a good night. Rob.
<Does it look like this to you? Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Trying to id a fish hitchhiker. The universe; everything     1/13/15
That's it. I do have a yellow cucumber. It looks most like a silver Pearlfish (Encheliophis homei) to me.
From what I have found this type appears to be more commensalistic than parasitic exiting the cucumber at night and eating small crustaceans and fish.
<Like reality in general (pun mine) the universe, ranges in commensalism/mutualism/parasitism are not discrete, but widely range in kind, degree>

My current stock list is a pair of percula clowns, a purple Firefish, a yellow and purple wrasse (Halichoeres leucoxanthus), an ornate wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus), a tail spot goby (Ecsenius stigmatura) and a coral beauty (Centropyge bispinosa) as well as a skunk cleaner shrimp and a few peppermint shrimp and a tiger striped serpent star (Ophiolepsis
superba). Do you see any issues with this fish staying in the tank?
<No; these fishes aren't territorial, "mean".... are more "live and let live">
Would it be better for the cucumber if I separated them?
<Oh no; best by far to have together; and what a conversation starter!>

I think it would be easy enough putting the cucumber in a quarantine tank and checking after lights out to remove the cucumber when the fish is not in it. Thanks again. You and your crew and an invaluable source of information for our hobby. Rob.
<Welcome. BobF>

What kind of fish is it? - 10/25/2012
On a recent late August visit to Cozumel I was snorkeling in 20 ft of clear water when I saw an amazing fish. I am hoping if I describe it your team can tell me more about it and may be send a photo. The fish had leopard spots and an aqua blue stripe down its back and was about six inches long.
Strangely the fish was somewhat triangular in shape and when pursued, tried to partially bury itself in the sandy bottom. Most spectacularly, when pursued the fish's aqua stripe turned an iridescent blue along with other portions of its body. Can you tell me if this is some sort of boxfish, or some other species? Thanks, Michael E.
<Mmm, diving into the sand... a wrasse, Razorfish of some sort? My guess is on a sand tilefish, Malacanthus plumieri
Not leopard spotted, but does have blue on it. Bob Fenner>
What kind of fish is it?
Another critical piece of info I left out is that the leopard spotted fish with an aqua stripe down the back had two horns projecting forward above the eyes.
<Oh, we're back to the Razorfishes. Search here:
Any ideas what I might have seen? I thought about a white spotted filefish, but you tell me what you think. Thanks, Michael Easson

fish id please    9/16/12
<12 megs of pix? Groooooan>
Hi guys please help me id this fish. I caught this fish while shrimping in Cameron Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks and looking to hear back Ashley Chapman
<Actually, though am out visiting in S. Carolina I can... overall body shape, notable photophores on the underside of the body... think this is the Batrachoidid Porichthys porosissimus... Bob Fenner>

Fish Identification?; Skilletfish -- 01/16/10
<Hi Steve.>
I have found this little guy in the west side Mobile Bay, Al. under a rock about 6 months ago. He was about 2 inches and a yellowish color as I recall. He is now mostly brownish and about 4 inches. Attached is a couple pictures of his topside and bottom-side. He roughly looks like a Plecostomus, in shape and general appearance although a bit shorter. He does have a set of suction plates on his abdomen which he definitely knows how to use on the glass. About 6 to 8 "small barbs" or "stubby whiskers" on his chin, and the very small raised antenna
like things above the eyes.
<A Clingfish (family Gobiesocidae). Likely a Gobiesox strumosus (Skilletfish.>
He seems well behaved in my 75g reef, loves to eat, gets most of the left overs off the bottom, and rather shy, stays in the rocks, or out, but hidden.
<Has been kept and even been bred here and there, but is not a very common aquarium fish.>
You guys are very good at IDing fishes, I figured that one of you should be able to tell me what he is, or at least point me in the correct direction to get me started. Thanks, Steve
<Welcome. Marco.>

Fish Quiz... Where? 11/27/09
Hi guys/gals,
I happened to come across this today. Is a compilation of 23 fish ID quizzes. Bob, this would be a good test for you as you more than likely have seen all these in your dive trips. I know I'm certainly not capable
of identifying all these fish correctly. There is an answer button to the lower left of the screen.
Have fun for those who have the time.
<Mmm, I have used "blurred slides", that I improve in increments for presentations/pitches at hobby groups... Quizzing attendees on their ID skills... Is a real hoot! BobF>

Re: Fish Quiz 11/27/09
<Big J>
Yes, and I'm sure some folks quickly realize they are not as smart as they thought.
<If you really want to be humbled re fishes, take a gander at Fishbase.org's Fish Quiz offerings:
There are many fish in the quizzes that I've never saw available in the trade. Geez, this Thanksgiving was the first one we did not have turkey for dinner. I sure didn't want to make the mess just for the two of us.
Instead, we had rib eyes on the grill, twice baked potatoes, tossed salad loaded, and drinks afterward to get me loaded/twice baked.
<Yummy! BobF, who had friends, thank goodness, take him out to visit with their extended family>

Fish identification 11/16/09
Good Afternoon,
Hope everything is going well with you. My 21 year old son went fishing by the bridges in Tampa Bay and brought home this little creature. He called him a sand perch. I can not seem to find any photos labeled "sand perch" that look like him. Do you know what he is?
Thanks so much-
<Mmm, yes. An Eucinostomus melanopterus, the Flagfin Mojarra. Bob Fenner>

Re: identification -- 11/16/2009
After reading about this fish, my best guess is that I need to get him to take it back.
Thanks for the quick reply.
<Welcome Auntie Ellen! BobF>

Subject: Fish ID 6/23/09

Hello, we are trying to ID the fish on this page;
http://www.3reef.com/forums/id/strange-predator-fish-67047-2.html , I don't know if you will be able to view it or not, if so, I would appreciate your help.
<Looks like a Clinid... coldwater... back to Fishbase.org with you and the family name: Clinidae. Bob Fenner>

Please help with fish i.d.? 6/23/09
Dear WetWebMedia Crew,
Thanks for creating a useful and informative website.
<You're welcome.>
Attached is a picture of a tiny guy, about 1" at most, who showed up in some live rock in a newly
set up tank (20gallons (U.S.) long). It seems to move like a goby or darter, i.e. mostly with front fins. Any idea what it is?
<Geez, never saw this fish before, but appears to be a Pseudojuloides wrasse of some type. Bob
has likely seen in the wild and may input here.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

A Labrid likely... RMF

Re Please help with fish i.d.? 6/24/09
Hi again,
<Hello Luke>
If it helps, this is Florida rock.
<Not too much help, problem is, the fish is likely a juvenile, and many wrasses (if indeed it is a wrasse) will have a completely different adult coloration which can make juvenile identification difficult.
I suggest Googling, you may come up with an picture ID. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Please help with fish i.d.? 6/24/09
Thanks again. I'll wait a few weeks/months and see if it colors up.
<Sounds good and do let us know if you had any luck identifying the fish.
James (Salty Dog)>

Unidentified fish 03/26/09
Hello all,
I was hoping you can help me identify the attached fish. I don't know much about it. It's from Bali. About 3" I'm guessing a sweetlips, but not at all sure.
<Mmm, not a Grunt... does look summat like a Pholid... but... Can't tell you. Am out of the country, with slow Net access, no in-print references... Will bounce over to LynnZ's in-box for her perusal/help. BobF>
Any ideas?
Michael Stern

Re: Unidentified fish: Brown-Banded Cusk-Eel -- Sirembo jerdoni 3/26/09
<Hi Michael, Lynn here today with a follow-up for Bob. The good news is that I found your little fish! It's Sirembo jerdoni, aka the Brown-banded Cusk-eel. Please see the following links for more information/photo comparison: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=10527&lang=English
That is one pretty little fish!>
I'll try to get a better picture.
<No worries, I think we're good to go!>
It's here now.
Michael Stern
<Take care, LynnZ><<Ahh! Well done Lynn! RMF>>

Re: I got it! 3/26/09
Hi Bob,
Hope you and Scott are having a terrific time down in beautiful Cozumel. I just wanted to let you know that I figured out what that darn fish was! It's an Ophidiiform - Sirembo jerdoni (aka the Brown-Banded Cusk-Eel).
Heee..I looked all over for that little guy (Blennies, Wrasses, you name it), then it finally dawned on me that it reminded me of a Pearlfish. That took me to the Ophidiiformes and finally, success. Ends up, there aren't a whole lot of photos of that fish available on the net. Anyway, I just thought you might like to know. It's a neat little fish but unfortunately, I couldn't find anything related to aquarium care. Hopefully it will fare well in captivity, under Michael's care.
So how's the diving been?
<Nice, but way too much Cyano...>
Y'all having a good time and enjoying some good Tequila?
<Too much>
I sure wish I was there with y'all!
Take care and have fun!
<Hope we can all get out and about sometime soon! BobF>

Acanthocepola indica... 01/23/09 Hey folks, I always appreciate your help. I saw a fish called "Bandfish - Acanthocepola indica". I know your not supposed to get fish you know nothing about, but I did anyway. (DOH!!) <::sigh::> What can you tell me about this species, as far as tank size, food, temperament, is it "reef safe"? <If the fish was labeled correctly (which I can't be sure of), then it's not a common aquarium fish. About all I can tell you is that they get to be about 10in long and that they're benthopelagic feeder, which means it eats sand bed critters (i.e. benthic crustaceans and the like). http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=9216> Ill take pictures later tonight or tomorrow, and forward them to you. <That would be helpful... the fish could have been mislabeled..> Thanks in advance, Doran Vancouver, USA <De nada, Sara M. San Diego, CA>

Re: Acanthocepola indica 01/25/09 Thank you for the information. I have attached a photo (pardon the quality) <Thank you.> Im fairly sure it is actually A. indica. <Does appear to be...> Doran <Cheers,
Sara M.>

Fish Id'¦A Tilefish I Think! -- 05/18/08 Sorry, think I attached it this time. <<Ah yes>> Have so much going on now a days I think I am losing it. Thanks again for your help and sorry about not attaching it the first time. <<I don't know who initially received this Erika since they didn't sign the response, but no worries'¦now let's see if I can help>> I want to start by saying I love your site. <<Thank you'¦is quite the collective effort>> I have used it for years for research for so many things when it comes to our saltwater tanks. <<Very good to hear/know>> We have a new fish and I am not sure what it was. <<'¦! As in you bought it without knowing what is was? Never a good idea'¦>> It looks like a cleaner wrasse but this fish is over 7 inches long already. <<Wowzah!>> I have attached a picture. And thanks in advance for you help. <<Mmm, the picture is not very good'¦ And while it does resemble some of the Coris Wrasses in shape'¦it looks to me to be Malacanthus latovittatus'¦the Blue blanquillo'¦a member of the Tilefishes. According to fishbase.org its primary diet is benthic crustaceans, but in the confines of an aquarium I would expect this fish to also eat other smaller fishes. It also is stated that this fish can reach 20' in the wild'¦certainly a prime consideration when choosing an appropriate (sized) tank and tankmates. Eric Russell>> With Hope, Erika www.justingaines.com Help us find our son. Missing since Nov. 2nd 2007 <<I wish you luck with your quest. EricR>>
RE: Fish ID'¦A Tilefish I Think! - 05/19/08 Thanks, that is exactly what it is after looking it up, thanks so much. <<Ahh, excellent! And you are quite welcome I will now inform my LFS so he can do the research on the fishes he is selling. <<Yes indeed'¦>> After doing research I know which one of our tanks will be best for him when he gets out of the hospital tank. <<Very good>> Thanks again for your help, without you I would have never found out what he was and which tank would suit him best. With Hope, Erika <<Is my pleasure to assist. EricR>>

Mystery Snapper - Marine or Freshwater? 4/7/08 Hello folks! <Hi Neale!> I recently saw this fish in a *freshwater* aquarium. It's apparently a snapper or porgy of some kind, but not being an expert on marine fish, I'm not sure which one. Any ideas? <My careful guess (!) simply by comparing pictures would be a seabream Acanthopagrus berda. They do occasionally occur in freshwater, especially the young. However, they get much bigger than indicated by the picture. Maturity at about 20 cm and maximum length reported around 90 cm. The dorsal spine number from your picture also seems to match, but all together I am not perfectly convinced by the ID and will leave the email for others to see. In the meantime here's a nice picture of A. berda: http://fishpix.kahaku.go.jp/fishimage-e/detail?START=27&FAMILY=Sparidae&SPECIES=&LOCALITY=&FISH_Y=&FISH_ M=&FISH_D=&PERSON=&PHOTO_ID=&JPN_FAMILY_ OPT=1&FAMILY_OPT=0&JPN_NAME_OPT=1&SPECIES_OPT=1& LOCALITY_OPT=1&PERSON_OPT=1&PHOTO_ID_OPT=2> It's apparently been in freshwater tanks for the last couple of years at least, and appeared to be in perfect health. Cheers, Neale <We've kept seabreams from the black sea in brackish water tanks, but I've never encountered them in freshwater. The ones from the black sea were pretty much euryhaline, but stayed significantly smaller than in nature, which wasn't surprising. Cheers, Marco.>

Re: Mystery Snapper - Marine or Freshwater? 4/7/08 Hello Marco, <Hi Neale.> Thanks for the name! I agree with you 100% about the genus at least, though I'm wondering about Acanthopagrus latus as well. <Very well possible. Fin colours can be used for differentiation, but its better to see the fish in person or have it in front of a white background to do that. A. latus is supposed to have a yellow caudal (vs. grey at A. berda) as far as I know.> In any case, you are quite right about the fact this fish is a porgy rather than a snapper. The aquarium store manager called it a snapper, so I was going along with that! Rather a cool fish, anyway. Cheers, Neale <For an ID guide to the mentioned and other similar species see ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/ad468e/AD468eMJ.pdf . Photographs are in ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/y0770e/y0770e63.pdf. Cheers, Marco.>

Strange Eel-like Hitchhiker - 4/3/08 Hi again, <Hi Joe> You guys have helped me out a couple of times in the past. And once again I am in need of some assistance. This little guy was found in my tank and it was not purchased by me. I am assuming it came in as a hitchhiker. <Hehee! I'm tempted to make a smart-alec comment here, but I'll spare you!> Can you please help me to identify what type of animal this is? <Unfortunately, I can't see enough detail in the photo to be able to tell with any sort of certainty. It could be anything from a snake eel (family Ophichthidae), like this one: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=2642 To an eel-like goby similar to this: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=13545 Or even an eel blenny similar to this: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=27541 There are several other possibilities as well. Your best bet is to look over the photos at this site and see if you can narrow it down. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/ComNames/ComNamesPicList.cfm?Criteria=ComNames.ComName+like+%27%25eel%25%27 By the way, if you click on one of the photos at this link, it will take you to another page with additional photos. If you click on the species name under the photo, it'll take you directly to the species page with lots of pertinent information. Whatever it is, it's pretty neat looking! Good luck!> Thanks in advance. Joe Brillon <You're very welcome! --Lynn>

Re: Strange Eel-like Hitchhiker: Possible Pearlfish - 4/3/08 <Hi Joe!> Thank you, Ok It will take me some time to go through the sites listed. <Maybe I can save you some time. After looking at the photo again, I think there's a good chance that what you have is a Pearlfish (Family Carapidae). Some in this family are commensals, taking up residence in the anus of large Holothuroids (sea cucumbers), others just swim around in the water column, not dependent on a host. Apparently, some are even parasitic. Please see these photos for comparison, more information: http://www.onasia.com/system/preview.aspx?pvp=rde0022011.44 http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=187 http://ipath.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/encheliophis_gracilis30739.jpg http://fishpix.kahaku.go.jp/fishimage/search?FAMILY_OPT=0&FAMILY=Carapidae http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=217827 > Some additional info I just received, not sure if it helps or not. I don't know if I mentioned this already, but it's a reef tank. And this little guy is about 5" long and likes to swim in the water column rather than slither on the sand bed. <Thanks, all information is helpful! Please go through the above links and see if that isn't what you have.> Thanks again. Joe Brillon <You're most welcome! Take care, -Lynn>

Re: Strange Eel-like Hitchhiker: Possible Pearlfish - 4/4/08 <Hi Joe!> YOU NAILED IT.... THANK YOU VERY MUCH... once again I find myself hearing that little jingle in my head from a popular cartoon of the past. HERE SHE COMES TO SAVE THE DAY!!! <Heheee! Talk about a blast from the past! I loved Mighty Mouse as a kid. By the way, you're very welcome. I had been thinking about that little fish all day long yesterday and finally it came to me - as in Doh!> LOL That is exactly it, a Pearlfish, question is now. There are no sea cucumbers of any type in the tank, should we take it out or leave it in? <I'd leave it and enjoy it!> Joe Brillon <Take care, -Lynn>

Comment Re: Strange Eel-like Hitchhiker: Possible Pearlfish - 4/5/08 Hello Bob and crew! <Hi Kim!> First I want to thank you for the wonderful work you do here. <On behalf of Bob and the crew, you're most welcome.> I read the daily faq's every evening! <Yay!> Secondly, I ran across this post about the strange eel-like hitchhiker and wondered to myself if the writer had a cucumber? The fish looks like a Pearl fish. <Right you are! I came to the same conclusion Thursday evening in a Homer Simpson 'Doh!' moment. I felt like an idiot for not realizing what it was right away. At any rate, the response posted yesterday with the original query, but appeared a bit farther down the page. There's also a follow-up posted in today's Q&A's. Regarding the cucumber, apparently, Joe doesn't have one, but some of the fishes in this family are free-living, not requiring a host. LOL If I were one, I'd sure want to be among that group!> The Pearl fish, as you know, makes its home inside a cucumber's intestines. To each their own I guess! <Isn't that the truth!> Anyway, thought I'd throw that out there and see what you thought. <I think you've got a good eye and I'm glad you wrote in!> Thanks again to all you wonderful volunteers!! Kim
<It's a pleasure! Take care, -Lynn>

Carapid. RMF

Quick fish ID bro? 11/18/07 cheers, Bob <Antoine> A quick query bro... can you name or guide me to ID this fish, mate? Photographed in South Africa (East) <Looks... like an Anarhichadid... "Wolf blenny" from the scalature, molars... but don't see it by family on FB... Nor is there a member listed for S. Africa (out of 1,903 on FB)... Do you have a full-body pic? Cheers! BobF> It looks delicious :)<I'd say it's a Jimmy Durante feesh, ah cha cha cha... But think this ref. is too old for you. B>

Quick fish ID bro? 11/19/07 heehee... a fitting name indeed - I do remember Durante well... watch(ed) the films and my grandfather met him (pap did security/bodyguarding)... used to love to mention him. Sorry for not including a body shot of the fish bro. One is attached here. The critter was the better part of a meter in length. gracias :) <Have "slept on this", (was lumpy), and do think this (now) may be some sort of Labrid/oid... from the dentition, thick caudal peduncle, and apparently truncate caudal... Am going through Fishbase in a bit... re S. African members of the family... perhaps this is even a genetically deformed individual... Cheers, BobF

<Dr. Randall... am stumped... can you help me here. At least to family? Cheers, Bob Fenner> Re: quick fish ID bro? 11/19/07 Great thanks for the effort, Bob. Please don't go far out of your way, though. I was just fishing to see if it rang a bell. I will keep digging too. gracias <Have bitten the proverbial bullet and sent your pix to Dr. Randall for his input... Now I'm really hooked! Cheers, BobF>

Re: Quick fish ID bro? -11/19/07 It's seabream (Porgy): Cymatoceps nasutus http://fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=5531 Cheers, Marco. <Ahh, outstanding! Thank you Marco. BobF>

Re: Jack, would you take a look? FW: quick fish ID bro? -11/19/07 Bob: Looks like the emperor Lethrinus erythracanthus with a deformed head to me. L. kallopterus is a synonym. Aloha, Jack <Thanks much Jack... one of the "Crew" wrote in: It's seabream (Porgy): Cymatoceps nasutushttp://fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=5531Cheers, Marco.<Ahh, outstanding! Thank you Marco. BobF> <<In taking a look at the FB graphic, this does look to be it. A hu'i hou! BobF>

Re: Jack, would you take a look? FW: quick fish ID bro? -- 11/20/2007 Great thanks Bob/Marco/Jack for the input <You are welcome.> the Seabream is on the mark! The temptation to call this fish a wrasse was so strong for me too... but it just wasn't right. much obliged :) <I'm more into moray eels and puffers than porgies, but this funny face was unforgettable. Cheers, Marco.>

Old Wife What would you consider to be the most frustrating situation for an aquarist? <This is a long list... "not coming to grips with the realization of their limitations" (maturity) in my estimation> I'll argue for the following: healthy fish added to healthy tank; fish is in great shape and clearly very hungry BUT REFUSES TO EAT ANY FOOD OFFERED, even when seeing other fish taking the food. Just added an Old Wife (Enoplosus armatus) to the tank. <This species lives in groups> The other tankmates (Big Eye, Batfish, Soapfish, a cowfish who hasn't learned that he is supposed to be timid) surprisingly welcomed him with complete open arms. The Aussie has refused thawed shrimp, 2 kinds of pellets, Hikari carnivore food sticks, frozen brine and live Tubifex. Had the gall to swim up to the Tubifex, look at it, and decide against it, swimming away. I'm trying live brine tomorrow (which is surprisingly hard to find in New York City). If that doesn't work, any ideas? Because I have yelled at the tank and he is quite indifferent to my ramblings...neighbors upset but that isn't really an aquarium issue... I really don't want to lose him, because other than this he has acclimated beautifully (I'm sure you know what I mean) and is simply gorgeous. <Do seek out other largish, meaty fare... even earthworms, ghost and glass shrimp used in the aquarium interest. Bob Fenner> Michael Krechmer

Fish Compatibility <<JasonC here... ?>> The old wife: burgess lists them as hardy, but they seem to be temperate from what I researched, and that usually spells trouble...any experience? <<with an old wife? I'm single... >> how aggressive? <<have heard horror stories about old wives>> I'm guessing it'll get along great with my Platax batfish in personality, but wanted to check with you. <<is that similar to an old batfish?> --- Michael Krechmer <<Sorry about the humor there, but you've really managed to stump me... what fish were you asking about? Cheers, J -- >>

That's My Oldwife you're talking About! hey, I didn't name them! Latin is "Enoplosus armatus", but it seems that I'm going to have to find out how hardy this thing is myself. Oh well, thanks anyway. <<Sorry about that, I did just go through the WWM site and drew a blank. I'm sure Bob will be happy to fix that when he gets back. In the mean time, I've found your old wife on Fishbase: Oldwife Link on FishBase Try that! Cheers, J -- >>

Oldwife Follow-up and Where are You Hiding that Fenner Guy, Anyway? <<JasonC here...>> any info on hardiness or temperament? what happened to Bob? should I email him again at some later date? <<well, you know my shtick already... Bob should be in Taveuni by now, and is expected back on 12/7. Definitely get in touch with him for the skinny on the oldwife. Cheers, J -- >>

Old Wife, Enoplosus armatus

Can you help me find a fish? Dear Mr. Fenner, I was wondering if you could help me with something. About ten years ago, in the early days of my interest in aquariums, I was at a pet shop and I saw something that I haven't seen since. It was a freshwater fish that was being sold as a "wolf fish". This particular fish had sort of a marbled light/dark brown coloration and was approximately 2 to 3 inches in length. It's body was elongated and the most noticeable trait were it's teeth. They were very large and very sharp. I wanted to know if you had ever come across such a fish, and if you had any information that could help me identify it because I'd like to find one for my tank. <Mmm, elongated, mottled brown, largish teeth... Maybe a batrachoidid (Midshipman), often sold as "Freshwater Lionfish" (actually brackish to marine). Please use the Google Search Feature on WetWebMedia.com to see our coverage of this group... and will post your query on the Daily FAQs in the hope others can help identify what this might be. Please read this over the next few days. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Matt

Barracuda?? Hi guys. Just a quick question...I noticed my LFS has a pair of barracuda for sale. Is this reasonable? <very dubious... if the LFS will only sell them to an aquarist with a VERY large aquarium, then maybe OK. But if they will sell them to anybody with a dollar or for smaller aquaria... then they are ignorant> I've never seen them on display in any other store and it just made me stop and wonder. I personally would never consider buying one but I'm a passive tank kinda guy anyway. Thanks...TTFN. Wes <barracuda are miserably stressed tank denizens. They need species specific tanks (no other fishes)... they are skittish, medicant sensitive, ich-prone, susceptible to eye injuries, etc. Really a fish for advanced aquarists only in huge aquaria. Give the LFS owner a kick in the groin for me. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Barracuda?? Well...on a whim I called a SECOND LFS about barracuda. They told me that I would need at least a 30 or 40 gallon tank.....and they get them in periodically..... <hahhahhahahhahha....hahhaha...hoo hoo ...heeheehee... hahahahahhahhhaha ahha...ahha..ha..he..hoo..ahh... ya, close. I just got a mental picture of a 3 ft barracuda dunking its tushy in the 30-40 gallon tank and wearing a grin goading the LFS owner to come closer to try to stuff the rest of him into that tank>> Unbelievable. Still looking for someone who cares about what they are doing....I KNOW they are out there. Wes <And I'm realizing that I'm going to go through a lot of boots if my solution is to kick each and every one of these idiots in the jimmy as my solution to their lack of empathy (I just realized that my very solution itself lacks empathy... but what the heck). Anthony>

<Am sure these boys know that there are a few freshwater fishes sold by this "cuda" name... Bob F>

Fish ID Dear Bob, Anthony, or Steve: <Anthony Calfo in your service> Can you please help me identify these two fish of mine? I have tried to find info in several sources including Fishbase and have found nothing. Sorry for the bad quality pics, just got the camera today and these guys move fast! :) <you'll get better and they will get slower in time <smile>> The damsel came in with a batch of Blue and Gold's (Pomacentrus coelestis) and I imagine it must be a hybrid of mutation of some sort? <tough to tell with certainty from the photo... but unlikely to be a hybrid. May very well be a Pomacentrus species> The wrasse was sold by the wholesaler as a "Neon Wrasse", however like others I see on WetWebMedia, it apparently isn't easy to ID this fish by the so-called common name of Neon Wrasse. <Actually, pegged this one... you have a juvenile Chiseltooth wrasse (Pseudodax moluccanus). A picture of the juvenile exactly like yours can be found in the Burgess atlas, most pics on the Web show a very different color as adults. Cleaner fish as juveniles, eating algae and small plankton as adults. Not a lot known about this one but feed a wide variety in the diet. This species may not be inclined to hardiness. Best regards, Anthony>

Fish ID Hi! I'm a high school student and I have marine biology. We have a marine tank and a store gave us some fish to cycle the tank. He gave us one and we can't figure out what kind it is. I'll give you the best details I can. He's yellow with black vertical stripes maybe 2 inches long he has a sort of pointy nose. He eats Tubifex worms, lettuce, and flake food. We asked at the place that gave it to us but the person that gave it to us wasn't there and the other people didn't know. Hopefully you can help. Thanks! <please browse the fish photos and articles on from the homepage to narrow down the search. The description is indeed too general to hazard a guess>

Strange Fish picture identification Dear Mr. Fenner, I have come across this strange fish in the local fish market. The fish has plate like chess bones and odd look. I can not find it in any of the books or internet database. Please check out the attached file and if you know what it is, please let me know. <Looks to me (by overall shape, number, placement and size of fins) to be a Pompano of some sort. Please see fishbase.org and put in the genus Trachinotus.... AND run a search by species of the marine fishes in your area/region and match up the two (by genus/species found in your geographic area). Bob Fenner> Best regards!
Liao I Ching

Mystery Fish Inquiry Hello - First off I would like to say Thank You for having this great website. I have journeyed to your site with various questions & through a search finally found answers to almost all of them. Today I have a stumper question that I'm hoping you can help with. The set-up in question is a 20 gal tank for sea horses (still don't have the sea horses yet) with 2 - 5 gal refugiums. It has been running about 2.5 months. I have cured LR, DSB, grasses, few snails, hermit crabs, 1 emerald crab, 2 peppermint & 2 ghost shrimp living within the set-up. A little over a month ago I received 2 shipments of macroalgae (1 from IPSF & 1 from FAF), mostly Gracilaria sp. I put them into the refugiums & let them go. Much to my shock about a week ago there is a baby fish swimming in one of the refugiums. Two days ago the fish took the big slide into the main tank. It is 3/4" long, is shaped like a baby salmon & is brown in color. It doesn't hide during the day, it usually hangs close to the rock but darts around frequently. I realize that it will remain a mystery for awhile as to what my little baby fish is, but I would like to know if you have suggestions on what to feed it. I have a small colony of amphipods in the set-up. I did start hatching out brine shrimp & adding it to the tank every other day. I don't know if he is eating them or with they are just being lost in the tank. I did add a few frozen brine shrimp to the tank yesterday, but I think they are too big. Clearly the baby fish is eating something in the tank (it seems to be growing fairly quickly), but I'm not certain if whatever it has found to eat so far will sustain it. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you - Jennifer <Glad to read of your careful preparations. The fish in question very likely originated from IPSF (I am near Gerald's lab here on the Big Island of Hawai'i) as either a fertilized egg or small larva... on the Gracilaria or in the water it was shipped in. The species? Only time can tell... as many larval fishes are obscure at this size/age. Feeding should not prove difficult with your twin refugiums... nor would I be concerned with waiting on the addition of your seahorses. Bob Fenner>

Brotulids Hello, I saw the most beautiful fish today and I believe it is in the Goby family. The LFS called it a "Dusky Botulid." <Missing an "r"... see above re... and put this family name in your search tools, fishbase.org... Not a goby, Gobioid...> I have a 90 gallon reef tank and I really want this fish. But I have a very small Yellow Citron Goby (little over 1 1/2 inches) and I wonder if they will fight or will the Brotulid want to eat him? <Mmm, should get along: http://fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Brotulina&speciesname=fusca > What can you tell me about this fish and this fish in my tank with the Citron Goby? Laurie from CT <Bob Fenner in HI>

One that is a struggle Hi Bob, <John> I would greatly appreciate if you would take a quick look at the attached. I believe it to be some form of a Grunt. My primary tool for Species Identification is a C.D. authored by Ross Robertson which has pictures of 1185 individual species from the Eastern Tropical Pacific. I have a good working relationship with Ross but have not sent him this photo as of yet not wanting to stress the relationship by overwork. <Mmmm, do you have Allen, Steene and Randall's tome on ETP Fishes on hand?> It might be a juvenile Sharp Snout Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus, but the distance between the eye and the mouth is too short and the "snout" is much pointed when I compare it to Ross' picture of the Sharp Snout Grunt (picture attached). <Doesn't look like this fish to me either> I also do not believe it to be any of the following: the Burrito Grunt, Anisotremus interruptus; California Salema, Xenistius californiensis; Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum; Goldeneye Grunt, Haemulon scudderi; Greybar Grunt, Haemulon sexfasciatum; Sargo, Anisotremus davidsonii; Shortfin Humpback Grunt, Mircolepidotus brevipinnis; Spottail Grunt, Haemulon maculicauda; Wavyline Grunt, Microlepidotus inornatus; White Grunt, Haemulopsis leuciscus; and Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris. <Neither any of these... I searched on fishbase.org under the haemulids and sciaenids (is this a croaker? Can't make out whether the lateralis reaches the end of the caudal from the image... though the anal, dorsal fin counts, opercular flap suggest the croakers> Since I live in San Diego I have good access to the SIO Library which is another place to look. And if all else fails I can contact Ross and see what he has to say. Either way I will keep you informed of where I am on this guy. Note: it comes out of the surf at La Playita, San Jose Del Cabo and provided by the bait guys as a by catch of sardines (Flatiron Herrings). Any suggestions? <I do! To have Dr. Randall take a look/see... he will likely be able to place to at least genus by sight. Jack, any help here? Thank you, Bob Fenner out on the Big Island, sans references> Thanks again for any advise you can provide. Best regards, John T. Snow

Re: One that is a struggle John: Sorry, my knowledge of eastern Pacific fishes is very limited. All I can say is that it does look like a haemulid. You should contact Ross. Aloha, Jack <Have they tied you directly to a computer! That was quick! Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

TEP fish ID ref. Hi Bob, <John> Went to Scripps Oceanographic Institute Library this afternoon. They had only one book by the authors you recommended - something to do with Butterfly fishes. You suggested "Allen, Steene and Randall's tome on ETP Fishes". Can you send me a little more information on this topic as I will probably be back there tomorrow. Thanks, JTS <Sorry re... a bad reference... it's actually Gerald Allen and Ross Robertson: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0824816757/qid=1101097168/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-0523620-9223833?v=glance&s=books Bob Fenner>

TEP book, the SIO library Hi Bob, <John> Thanks. Yes, I know that book well. Unfortunately it is a little pricey or I would buy one. Ross' C.D. has all those fish plus a whole lot of more information. I believe with C.D. was created after that book. <Yes> I would be happy to send you a pirate copy (it is not the cost, just the logistics of getting another one). The cost is $10.00 from him directly and it is truly a tremendous piece of work! And I discussed with him "why so cheap?" - and he advised he just wants it our there for us goofy fish amateurs like me to use and his price just covers his costs. Please advise and I can send you one. <I will gladly pay the ten dollars... VERY reasonable. If you have not done so, do go check out the QL section of the S.I.O. Library... and if not up on how to search their holdings et al., have a Reference Librarian there show you Melville et al. tools. A treasure! You can use their works gratis, though not "check out" books. Bob Fenner>

Unknown Damsel? Mmm, some family else 9/29/06 Hi Mr. Fenner <Johanna> I work in an aquarium and we got a marine fish donated to us that we are having difficulties identifying. I believe it is some sort of a damsel, <There are some 330 or so described species...> but I am not certain. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the fish, <Really helps> all I can give you is a brief description. I have looked up damsels on Fishbase, <Ah, good... though they don't have pix of everything> but not found a picture to match. The mystery fish is about 30 cm standard length. <A foot!> The fish is red fading into black towards dorsal fin. There are three, or possibly four, small but bright blue spots along the lateral line evenly spread out between the beginning and end of dorsal fin. It has a proportionally long caudal peduncle and an otherwise deep body shape. The lateral line is not broken and continues out to end of peduncle. <A good clue> The tail is homocercal with a deep fork. Mouth is terminal and slightly superior. It is not a Garibaldi as far as I can tell. The unidentified fish has a much deeper red color turning to black and the tail is too sharply forked, not smooth lobes like the Garibaldi. We have a couple of small (3 inch) garibaldis and they have the same blue color spots as our mystery fish. I know it is next to impossible to try to identify this fish from a brief description. I am fairly new to the aquarium trade and is hoping that I might be describing a common aquarium fish. <Mmm, not common to the trade...> I am not certain that it is a damsel, but general body sharp reminds me of one. The fish does fine in warm temps (78 degrees) and lived with a large tang and a panther grouper. We have tried various foods on him and he is not picky at all. Will eat anything that goes into the tank. He is also not aggressive towards other fish and has no apparent territory. Any hints of help you can give me is greatly appreciated. If you know of a good key that can be used on fish that are still alive that would be helpful to. I really do apologize for this email, but I do not know who else to turn to. My boss thinks it is a wrasse, but all of the aquarists are convinced other wise. Thanks for your time. Your forum is a great resource and very valuable to me. Sincerely Johanna Wren <Mmm... want to wait on a pic, but could this be a Holocentrid: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/holocent.htm There are a bunch of Squirrelfish species that semi-fit your description... BobF>

Eel Hitchhiker? -- 11/07/06 I come to this site frequently, the information has been so valuable in helping me establish and maintain my saltwater tank that I started 2+ years ago. <<Happy to read this>> Let me begin with this story...I live in an area that recently had an early October snow storm that dumped 23 inches of very wet snow. <<Buffalo?>> Storm started Thursday as we were going to our LFS I was buying new coral as my Xenia, which took over my tank for about 2 years, had started to slowly decline. <<I've heard speculation that xenia may actually go through such cycles of "wax and wane" and that if you 'leave the rock be' the Xenia will usually re-sprout to grow again>> As I have read on your site this can happen for no reason. <<Ah...yes indeed>> So happily I was buying new exciting coral (pocket book was not as happy), in other words I was having a ball. <<Hee-hee!>> Until that night we lost our power, we could hear our trees and the golf course trees crack like the sound of a shotgun blast. <<Mmm, yes...have witnessed the devastation wrought by heavy wet snow before myself>> After two days of bailing our sump pump, and having blankets covering my tank, I finally found a generator in Syracuse, NY. <<Invested in one of these myself a couple years ago>> We live outside of Buffalo, I would have driven to Albany to find one, or Canada, or Penn.... <<I understand. I was lucky enough (in the middle of an extended power outage) to buy the last generator available on the truck...while the truck was still about 16 hours away!>> Two days without a filter on my tank, the skimmer, the heater or lights...I was VERY lucky, I only lost the rest of my Xenia. <<Lucky indeed>> We now have a generator, which we used until the power came back on 9 days later. <<Yikes! Glad you were able to acquire one>> So with that story, my tank set up is a 75-gallon tank, with a Remora skimmer, and an Eheim filter as my old Magnum 350 filter fried when we had a surge from our generator, which flooded my hardwood floor. <<...?>> Good story is that the insurance company paid for a new filter (Eheim) and will pay to redo our floor, all of it. <<Wow...excellent>> Ah, back to my tank, I have a deep sand bed, about 75 lbs of live rock, a Yellow Tang, Rabbit/Fox Tang, <<Foxface? Siganus species?>> one damsel, 3 clowns and cleaner shrimp, Harry the brittle star and an unknown fish that I never bought. I think it is an Eel. <<Hitchhiker eh?>> Reason for my sending this is due to my recent adding of coral. I have a very nice Hammer coral on one side of the tank, the other side has a green Torch coral, and I also have some buttons, mushrooms and a sea mat. This unknown fish has been with my tank since I started adding live rock, so about as long as I have had the tank. <<Okay>> He only comes out once in a while to dart at the turkey baster that I use to feed Harry. <<Interesting>> I don't see him at any other time except to see sand fly out as if he is cleaning. <<Maintaining/expanding a burrow...you're probably correct>> Which means that if I have my button coral on the sand, in a couple of days I will find it buried. But if I move them to a higher spot in my tank, they don't like the light. If I have the lights on less, the Hammer and Torch coral don't like it. <<Just one of the problems with "mixed garden" style reefs>> Now is this what an Eel does? <<Some of them...some 'fishes' too'¦in fact there is a goby that looks very much like an eel (the name escapes me but I had a trio of these in a reef at one time years back) >> <Pholodichthys likely... Engineer Blennies/Gobies... RMF> Hide, eat when it wants and plays/buries in the sand? <<Yep>> This guy is big, yet I never see him. <<Most of the eels kept by hobbyists will usually become acclimated/accustomed to the aquarist/their surroundings. The gobies I mentioned earlier were quite secretive and only appeared at feeding time>> Only time I saw his full size is when I added the sand to my tank to make a deep-sea bed, did I mention that he was darn hard to catch? <<I'll bet'¦did you happen to get a picture of this critter?>> I had to move all my live rock to a holding tank, he is about a foot and 1/2 long, or was, I am not sure how big he is now. <<Yowza'¦and non of the other tank inhabitants have 'disappeared?'>> So does this sound like an eel?? <<It does'¦I don't believe the goby I'm thinking of gets that big>> Goby?? <<I'm doubtful now>> He is kind of unique, so do you have any advice on how to work around him and my coral? Any advise information would be great..... <<Do some reading here and among the associated links at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morays.htm>> Thanks, Kris <<Regards, EricR>>

I.D. Fish, Need to be a Conscientious Marine Aquarist -- 03/17/07 Hi! Bob, <Sorry Bob's honoring St. Guinness, Mich filling in.> Can you tell me something about this fish, <Well, I can tell you lots about this fish... It looks like it's alive and maybe it has fins and possibly one eye or an eye socket... It's not a flame angel, a lionfish or a Naso tang... You're kidding me right? Did you look at the photo? I've have it for over 3 months but I don't know anything not even the name it's name, <What are you doing? You don't know the name of the fish, and presumable don't know the care requirements of this fish ..., which you've had for three months!!! Come on, step up to the plate my friend. Please do your research and know the care requirements before actually assuming care!!! I'll try to get a better picture and send it to you, thanks for your time. <Will need a better photo to be of any help. For future reference, please start with the research, not the fish. -Mich>


Fish ID sans pix 2/25/07 Good evening guys, <James> My tank has been set up for about two months without any major disasters. I caught the hitchhiking octopus and gave him to the LFS. <Good> I have just a couple of clown fish and a cleaner shrimp for something to swim around for now. Four days ago, a new fish appeared. It must have hatched from an egg on the live rock (indo). It is about 3 and 1/2 inches long. <! must have been lanquishing in a pocket of water, moisture more like it... during the transit from the wild... Marines ARE tough> It looks like a stretched tadpole. A long fin running from behind the head to the tip of the tail both dorsal and ventral. The head is about 1/4 inch in diameter, blunt in the front, and it tapers to the tip of the tail. Any ideas? <Mmm, likely a blennioid or Gobioid... narrows the search down to a couple of thousand possibilities> Do you know of a web site that might have pictures of young fish? <Fishbase.org> I tried to get a picture but he disappeared into the rock and I haven't seen it since. My wife thinks it is an eel of a sort. <Maybe... does it lack pectoral fins?> I am thinking that it must be a large fish of a sort to be that big just after hatching. What should I put in for food? Well, a bit strange but many thanks for any insight. Jim <Is likely "getting" what it needs currently of/from the LR... a pic? Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish ID sans pix 2/26/07 Thanks I will check out the web site. It reminded me of a fresh water glass catfish but more compressed vertically. It just swam in the current in a cave for hours. Unfortunately the angle was too sharp to get a picture. It looks like a sawn off knitting needle with continuous ventral and dorsal fins. It does have small pectoral fins. <Not an anquilliform then> I have the camera close for the next time it appears. Thanks, Jim <Welcome. BobF>

Re: Fish ID sans pix, Carapidae? 2/27/07 Well no pictures yet but I believe that I have a Pearlfish that lives inside the sea cucumber. Thanks for the help. Jim <Oh! You and ChrisP are in agreement: Hi Bob, Was just looking at the FAQs and saw you were working with someone on a fish ID. Here is the post. Re: Fish ID sans pix 2/26/07 Thanks I will check out the web site. It reminded me of a fresh water glass catfish but more compressed vertically. It just swam in the current in a cave for hours. Unfortunately the angle was too sharp to get a picture. It looks like a sawn off knitting needle with continuous ventral and dorsal fins. It does have small pectoral fins. <Not an anquilliform then> I have the camera close for the next time it appears. Thanks, Jim <Welcome. BobF> Sounds a lot like a Pearl fish, Encheliophis homei and mourlani / Onuxodon margaritifera , aka the famous ReefCentral gonad eating Buttfish. Wonder if this person has a cucumber in their tank? Chris <Interesting speculation Chris... Perhaps this "hitchhiker" came in, not with the LR, but inside a Holothuroid... Hope he sees your input. BobF>

Help with ID of USO (Unidentified Swimming Object) please, fish 2/20/07 Good morning Crew! <Good morning> I apologize in advance to requesting assistance with an ID without a photo (I know it's nearly impossible) however I'll provide as much info as I can. I am not looking for an exact ID, just a general idea of what I might have in my tank- some guesses as to the family of fish my USO (unidentified swimming object) <I like that!> might be. Or the families I might narrow my search for an ID to. I am concerned that in the long run, my tank might not be well suited to this particular USO and I'd like to figure out it's needs and compatibilities from the get go if possible. I recently received my live rock (as in yesterday) from Tampa Bay Saltwater company and I have a hitchhiker that I am going to affectionately call Nessie. I can't get a photo of it- Nessie's really elusive- but I have now caught two sightings of it. Here is the known information regarding Nessie and what I have seen: Nessie IS a fish. I first had doubt to this at the initial sighting due to size, however there was a smooth side to side motion that lead me to believe that it was a fish. This fact was confirmed with second sighting which occurred at approximately 12:10 AM, EST. Nessie's body shape is very similar to a freshwater Plecostomus. The head is broader than the rest of the body and the nose is covered in 8-12 short bristles- I am assuming that these are for camouflage, predation, or for sensory assistance. Nessie's locomotion is similar to a Plecostomus as well, undulating side to side and propelled from back to front. There did appear to be caudal fins, however, I will admit that I was not that focused on them. Perhaps I will be able to observe those better in the future. Nessie is approximately 5-8 inches long. and approximately 1" to 1 1/2" wide at the head - head seems to be flatter than taller, neutral colors (from what I could observe with very little light) and seems inclined to be more on the nocturnal than diurnal side. The mouth also seems proportionately large, rather than appearing round in the front, it appears to be rather flat and wide (I don't know how accurate this observation was- take with some salt). The first sighting was when I was moving a very large rock- Nessie was underneath it and was startled by the light and the sudden (though very brief) lack of cover. At that sighting, I thought that it was black or very dark in color. This time it seemed to be more in the browns or grays and possibly striped vertically (dark on light) - though I only think I saw one stripe and that was near the eye. Both times Nessie has been seen, it's been located on the bottom (parallel to the bottom) , and seems quite comfortable and rather suited to the substrate, but doesn't seem suited to being perpendicular to the substrate. Nessie has also only been observed in the dark or very dim light. I just can't believe a fishy hitchhiker this big came in my rock and survived the journey. Any guesses as to what it might be? It is incredibly well camouflaged and I do have my guesses, but I am curious as to what the experts might think. My feeling is that this tank might not end up being quite the vision I had in mind. But a little adventure might be a very good thing. Thank you for any help you can give me. I'm going to try to get a photo of Nessie at some point- but it might be as clear and as successful as the photos of a much more famous namesake. Lee <A photo would be great. You did however give a pretty good description. I think there is a good chance you may have some sort of a blenny there. You might want to have a look at the photos on WWM as well as species photos and profiles on www.fishbase.org. Best of luck IDing your USO, Leslie>

Fish ID... spelling - 02/11/2007 Hi again, thanks for previous info! Another one for you. We have a fish that I think is called a false grunny <Mmm, a Gudgeon? Grunion? Gunnel?...> (?), can't find any info about it on the net. <Try the above spellings... maybe on fishbase.org> It's 2 inches long & 1/2 bright yellow, 1/2 bright pink with purple rimmed eyes. It looks like it has a growth, similar to wart, on one gill. I think it is a brown colour (hard to tell against the pink) with a red spot too. Any ideas & what should I do?? Sue C <Yes... nothing much to do... do find out what the actual species is... its "life requirements"... Most Gunnels are not tropical... Bob Fenner>

Fish ID question... Guyana/Bahasa? 7/17/07 Hello Crew! I'm trying to translate a text about commercial fishing in Guyana, and ran across some common names I can't find anywhere... a trio of blinker, catfish and menari. They also say most of the fish caught in the area are "skinfishes", so I'm assuming those three are probably scaleless fish. Catfish is easy, but I'm trying to find what "blinkers" and "menari" are... Any ideas? This is one of the times I really wish they'd use scientific names... ;-) Fishbase and Wikipedia are no help... <Nor to me... "Menari" is a place name and has meaning in Bahasa... but what relation to Guyana? Perhaps this is mis-spelled? Maybe a colloquialism... a qualifier rather than a description (e.g. a "good" food fish...). Don't know what a "blinker" is either... though many fishes do have more/less nictitating mechanisms> Once again, I'm in your debt... even if you have no idea what they are :-) Thank you! Audrey <Perhaps contacting a fisheries person in the country of origin? Bob Fenner>

We were fishing here in NC when my wife caught this. Someone told me this was a wrasse 10/12/07 <Mmm, likely an Echeneid... a Remora: http://wetwebmedia.com/echeneids.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: is it a remora? Maybe a cobia... 10/14/07 Hi Bob --> <Neale>> I thought I'd mention the cobia (Rachycentron canadum). It is very easy to confuse cobia with remoras such as Echeneis naucrates. <Ah, yes... and as a note of coincidence, the liveaboard I was on this last week in the Bahamas had a pic of one that was speared... of about 20 kilo weight> They are strikingly similar in shape and colour. I couldn't see for sure which the photo on WWM actually was. The "give-away" is the shape of the dorsal fin. Cobia have a series of short stout spines anterior to the dorsal fin (vaguely similar to the arrangement of spines on a spiny eel). Remoras, obviously, have the front half of the dorsal fin modified into the flat adhesive organ. Cobia are quite common in the warmer parts of the NW Atlantic, and indeed some people actively fish for them. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/Cobia/Cobia.html <Couldn't make out this character, but you are right, it might well have been a Cobia. Will post along with. Cheers, BobF>> Cheers, Neale

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