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Related FAQs: The Fishes of the Red Sea

Related Articles: Reef Flats, Reef SlopeBiotopes, Fishwatcher's Guide to the Red Sea, Triggerfishes of the Red Sea, Butterflyfishes of the Red Sea, Angelfishes of the Red Sea,  

Marine Aquarium Biotopes: Pt.3

Sandy Red Sea Reef Slope 4 of 5


Bob Fenner  

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Principal Fishes of the Red Sea Sandy Reef Slopes:  (Species commonly available, and useful for aquariums.)

Marine Catfishes, families Ariidae and Plotosidae: One species of each family is found in the Red Sea, but of all species of marine catfishes, only Plotosus lineatus is offered regularly in the trade.

Plotosus lineatus (Thunberg 1787), the Striped Eel Catfish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Micronesia. Only tropical reef catfish species. To a foot in length. Dangerously venomous. Keep hands clear when netting, moving. This group in captivity.

Lizardfishes, family Synodontidae: Below is the species that is most abundant and commonly imported:

Synodus variegatus (Lacepede 1803), the Reef Lizardfish. Most common species (out of seventeen) in Hawai'i. To more than ten inches in length. Red Sea image.

Pipefishes, family Syngnathidae: There are 26 species of "Pipes" in the Red Sea, along with six Seahorses (and at least one Ghost Pipefish, family Solenostomidae). The "Horses" are best from one of the excellent tank-bred sources, but a couple of the Pipe species here are available to the hobby and great from here for real peaceful reef set-ups.

Corythoichthys flavofasciatus (Ruppell 1838), the Network Pipefish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, east Africa to the Tuamotus. To five inches in length. Found amongst dead coral rubble, gravel. Males with blue spot about anus. Red Sea image. 

Corythoichthys nigripectus Herald 1953, the Black-Breasted Pipefish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Micronesians. To five inches in length. Found in lagoons and seaward reefs. Red Sea image. 

Lion- or Scorpionfishes, family Scorpaenidae:

Dendrochirus brachypterus (Cuvier 1829), The Shortfin Dwarf Lion  Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, east Africa to Samoa, Tonga. To 6 3/4" in length. Eats small crustaceans in the wild. Here in the Red Sea.

Pterois volitans  ("Tare-oh-ease vawl-it-tanz) (Linnaeus 1758),  is the Lionfish to most folks. It is the most commonly displayed and sold member of the family; the quintessential marine aquarium specimen, with it's long flowing pectoral and dorsal fin rays. Volitans lions span the color range of banded red to black against alternating creamy white. Yes, black and red volitans lions are the same species. These images from the Red Sea.

Dottybacks, family Pseudochromidae: The area boasts no less than a dozen species, of which 90% are only found here. And a  few of  these are readily available as tank-bred and raised specimens. The most common species by far is the Purple or Fridman's Dottyback, found "spotting" most all overhang areas near the end of the reef slope and sandy junction. Other faves include: 

Pseudochromis aldabraensis Bauchot-Bautin 1958, the Orange Dottyback. Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf, down to Aldabra, over to Sri Lanka. To four inches in length. Shy, but a great aquarium beauty when kept with suitably larger fish specimens. Aquarium image.

Pseudochromis fridmani Klausewitz 1968, the Orchid Dottyback. Known only from the Red Sea, but cultured in commercial numbers. To three inches in length. This photo taken in Sharm, Red Sea.

Pseudochromis sankeyi Lubbock 1975, the Striped Dottyback. Gulf of Aden and lower part of Red Sea in the northwestern Indian Ocean. To three inches in length. Aquarium photo.

Pseudochromis springeri Lubbock 1975, the Bluestriped Dottyback. Red Sea endemic, though most specimens offered are produced in captivity. To three inches in length. Aquarium images to show variation in color.

Goatfishes, family Mullidae: Great sand-stirrers for large systems.

Mulloidichthys vanicolensis (Valenciennes 1831), the Yellowfin Goatfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to Hawai'i. To fifteen inches in length. Here in the upper Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, 

Parupeneus cyclostomus (Lacepede 1801), the Goldsaddle Goatfish. Indo-Pacific out to Hawai'i, including the Red Sea. To twenty inches in length. Yellow form not found in Hawai'i. Pictured, a group in the Red Sea, and a yellow female individual in captivity.

Angelfishes, family Pomacanthidae: The smaller species of pomacanthids from the Red Sea are quite hardy, and numerous when looked for. 

Centropyge multispinis (Playfair & Gunther 1867) , the Multi-Spined Dwarf Angel, reminds me of a yellowish bodied coral beauty. Coastal Indian Ocean into the Red Sea, where this one was photographed. To four inches in length.

Genicanthus caudovittatus (Gunther 1860), the Zebra Angelfish (2). Red Sea along the east African coast, Mauritius and the Maldives. To six inches overall length. Male and female shown.

Wrasses, family Labridae. The hardier, more available species from this part of the Red Sea.

Bodianus anthioides (Bennett 1832), the Lyretail Hogfish. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea (where this picture was made) out to the Tuamotus. To nine inches in length. A gentle beauty as the genus goes. One and  three inch juveniles and six inch adult in the Red Sea.
Bodianus axillaris (Bennett 1832), the Axilspot Hogfish. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea (where this picture was made) out to the Tuamotus. To eight inches maximum length. Two inch juvenile in captivity and six inch subadult in the Maldives shown.

Bodianus diana (Lacepede 1801), my wife's namesake-favorite, Diana's Hogfish (1). Well-named after mythology's Goddess of the Hunt, this species can become belligerent toward its tankmates beyond it's ten inch size. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea, where the adult picture (below right) was taken. Small juvenile in waters about Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.

Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis Springer & Randall 1974, the Social Wrasse. Western Indian Ocean, including the northern Red Sea. To three inches in length. Images of aquarium  and Gili Air, Indonesia specimens.

Paracheilinus octotaenia Fourmanoir 1955, the Red Sea Eightline Flasher Wrasse. Red Sea in distribution. To three and a half inches in length. Females and a non- and displaying male in the Red Sea.

Pseudocheilinus evanidus Jordan & Evermann 1903, the Pin-Striped or Striated Wrasse (2). I like this fish's other common names, the Disappearing or Vanishing Wrasse for its bashfulness. To a grand size of three inches. Indo-Pacific, including Red Sea and Hawai'i. This one in the Red Sea.

Pseudocheilinus hexataenia (Bleeker 1857), the Sixline Wrasse . A feisty, though small (to 4") a reef tank species. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea in its distribution. Aquarium and Queensland, Australia images.

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