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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 5 of 5


By Bob Fenner


Back to: Sandy Red Sea Reef Slope 4 of 5

Gobioids & Blennioids: Do take a look on fishbase.org on the internet to gain insight as to how large and diverse the presence of these fishes is in the Red Sea. There are 94 species of Gobiids alone described from here.

Amblyeleotris steinitzi (Klausewitz 1974), Steinitz' Prawn Goby. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Micronesia. To three inches in length. Always found in association with the Pistol Shrimp, Alpheus djeddensis. This one off Dahab, in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea.

Amblygobius hectori (Smith 1957), Hector's Goby. Indo-West Pacific, including the Red Sea, to Micronesia. To two and a half inches long. Aquarium photo.

Ecsenius midas Starck 1969, the Midas or Persian Blenny. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to the Marquesas. To about five inches in length. Sometimes found in association with the Basslet Pseudanthias squamipinnis (at right), which it resembles, feeding on zooplankton. Fiji image.

Eviota sebreei Jordan & Seale 1906, Sebree's Pygmy Goby. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Samoa, to the northern GBR, Micronesians. To less than an inch in total length. This one perched on a Porites coral in Pulau Redang, Malaysia. 

Eviota prasites Jordan & Seale 1906, the Prasites Goby. West Pacific; Moluccas to Samoa. To less than an inch in length. This one photographed off of Queensland, Australia. 

Gobiodon citrinus (Ruppell 1838), the Citron or Poison Goby. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, African coast to Samoa. Found in close association with table top Acropora species. To two and a half inches in maximum length. This one in captivity.

The Decorated Goby, Istigobius decoratus (Herre 1927) in the Red Sea  To about five inches in length and found from the Red Sea to Micronesia. 

Petroscirtes mitratus Ruppell 1830, the Floral Blenny. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to Micronesia. To two and three quarters inch total length. This one in a typical setting hanging off a mooring line with algae about it. 

Pleurosicya micheli Formanoir 1971, Michel's Goby. A transparent species with an internal red striped on top of its vertebral column. To one inch in length. Indo-Pacific. This one in Hawai'i perched on a Porites Coral. 

Valenciennea puellaris (Tomiyama 1956), the Maiden Goby. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Samoa. To a little over six inches in length. The most commonly offered member of the genus. Frequently starves due to a lack of fauna in its substrate to feed on. One in the Red Sea.

Vanderhorstia ambanoro (Fourmanoir 1957), the Twin-Spotted Shrimp Goby. Indo-West Pacific; eastern Africa to Samoa out to the Micronesians. To a bit over five inches in length. This image shot in Pulau Redang, Malaysia.

Dart Gobies, family Microdesmidae: Seven Red Sea species, only one common, for aquarists.

Ptereleotris evides Jordan & Hubbs 1925, the Blackfin Dartfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea, eastern African coast to the Society Islands. To nearly six inches in length. Unusual for tending to swim away from divers rather than dart into burrows. This one photographed in the Red Sea.

Damselfishes, family Pomacentridae: Of the forty species of pomacentrid species found in the Red Sea, a few "standards" of the pet-fish trade abound on sandy slopes (others on the reef flat, rocky slope). The one Clownfish of the Red Sea and one of its three symbiotic Anemones and:

Amphiprion bicinctus Ruppell 1828, the Two-Band or Red Sea Anemonefish. Bright orange and brown bodied, with two vertical body bands, the first expanded above the head. Yellow tailed. Found in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Chagos Archipelago. To five inches in length. Red Sea image.

Chromis viridis (Cuvier 1830), the Blue-Green Chromis. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific and in marine and reef aquarium usage. The darling damsel of reefkeepers. To three inches maximum length. Formerly (and often still) identified as Chromis cyanea. One of many in Australia.

Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758), the Whitetail Dascyllus to science, more commonly called the Three-Striped Damsel to aquarists. Indo-west Pacific: Red Sea, Africa's eastern coast to the Tuamotus in the Pacific. To four inches. Aquarium photo.

Dascyllus trimaculatus  (Ruppell 1829), the Three-Spot Damsel or Domino. Indo-west Pacific. To five and a half inches in length. Lives on coral and rocky reefs.... and so feisty, it bites the hands of the aquarists who feed it! An old individual in the Red Sea shown.

Triggerfishes, family Balistidae. There are a few sandy slope Triggerfishes that marine hobbyists may use, even in reef tanks. 

The Red-Toothed or Niger Trigger, Odonus niger (Ruppell 1836), gets its first name from the color around the mouth that develops as the fish attains maximum size (to 18 inches). Indo-Pacific, Red Sea.  This is generally a medium aggressive species, safe for rough and tumble fish-only systems. Red Sea image.

From further out in the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea comes another "Picasso", or (preferably) the Assasi Trigger, Rhinecanthus assasi (Forsskal 1775). This one in the Red Sea. To one foot in length.

Bluethroat or Whitetail Trigger, Sufflamen albicaudatus (Ruppell 1829). Western Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman. A beauty and peaceful as triggers go. Have even seen this species kept in reef systems. To eight inches in length. Female and male in the Mar Rosso pictured.

Puffers of All Sorts: The Red Sea sports members of all Puffer families, subfamilies. Most get way-too big for home aquarium use, but the Masked Puffer and Tobies can be accommodated by many hobbyists.

Arothron diadematus (Ruppell 1829), the Masked Puffer. Western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. An expensive look-alike to the Indo-Pacific Arothron nigropunctatus. Both to about a foot in length and hardy in captivity. This one in the Red Sea.

Canthigaster coronata (Vaillant & Sauvage 1875), the Crowned Puffer. Another regular offering from this genus/subfamily. Indo-west Pacific, Red Sea out to Hawai'i. To five inches in the wild. This image made off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. 

Canthigaster pygmaea Allen & Randall, 1977, the Pygmy Toby (to two inches long). Western Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Here's one of this shy species individuals in the Merre Rouge.


    For aquarists, earnest investigation into what a "slice" of an area is like, focus on gathering, using the types of life found there, and maintaining the system to mirror natural conditions is what biotopic aquariums are all about. These constructs offer many advantages over traditional types of  "general" set-ups that employ a mix of disparate organisms and habitat; better compatibility, suitability of parameters and more natural behavior to name a few. 

    Biotopic presentations are well-established as methodologies in planted freshwater aquariums, where such approaches contribute much to aquarist success and awareness. Marine hobbyists are greatly encouraged to look into sources of information available that catalog what the living and non-living make-up of a given ecological niche is like and attempt to put together viable replicates as their aquariums.

Back to: Sandy Red Sea Reef Slope 4 of 5, Part 1 of 5 

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Do take a read about your local college library (perhaps with the assistance of a reference librarian) for the vast information relating to biotopes that exists in scientific and popular literature. There are series of books, scientific journals highlighting descriptions, investigations of practical ecology for aquarists.

Allen, Gerald R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. MERGUS, Germany. 271pp.

Allen, Gerald R., Steene, Roger and Mark Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publ. Calif. 250pp.

Burgess, Warren E., Herbert R. Axelrod & Raymond E. Hunziker. 1990. Atlas of Aquarium Fishes Reference Book, v. 1, Marine Fishes. T.F.H. Publ.s, NJ. 768pp.

Coletti, Ted. 1998. Habitat tanks; like biotope tanks, but different. AFM 9/98.

Debelius, Helmut. 1993. Indian Ocean Tropical Fish Guide. IKAN, Frankfurt. 321pp.

Debelius, Helmut. 1998. Red Sea Reef Guide. IKAN, Frankfurt, Germany. 321pp.

Dor, Menahem. 1984. CLOFRES. Checklist of the Fishes of the Red Sea. Israel Academy of Science and History. Jerusalem.

Erhardt, Harry & Horst Moosleitner. 1997. Marine Atlas 2 & 3. Invertebrates. MERGUS, Germany. 1,326 pp.

Fenner, Robert. 1996. The Lyretail Grouper, Variola louti. SeaScope v.13, Summer, 96.

Fenner, Robert. 1997. Rating the Red Sea butterflyfishes. TFH 3/97. 

Fenner, Robert. 1997. Rating the triggers of the Red Sea. TFH 10/97.

Fenner, Robert M. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, A Commonsense Handbook for the Successful Saltwater Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432 pp.

Fenner, Robert. 1999. Marine angelfishes of the Red Sea. TFH 2/99.

Fenner Robert. 2000. A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Tropical Marine Aquarium Fishes of the World. WetWebMedia. San Diego, CA.

Fenner, Robert. 2002. The Coral Hind, Lapu Lapu, or Miniata Grouper, Cephalopholis miniata. SeaScope v.19, Winter 02.

Fenner, Robert 2002. Red Sea Fishwatcher's Guide, in four parts. FAMA 2-5/02.

Fossa, Svein A. & Alf Jacob Nilsen. 1995. Korallenriff- Aquarium, Band 3, Fische im Korallenriff und fur das Korallenriff-Aquarium. Schmettkamp, Bornheim. 333 pp.

Fossa, Svein A. & Alf Jacob Nilsen. 2002. The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium, v. 4; Molluscs, Echinodermata, Tunicates. Schmettkamp, Bornheim. 480 pp.

Giovanetti, Thomas A. 1989. Getting acquainted with Red Sea fishes. TFH 9/89.

Hanauer, Eric. 1994. A Red Sea traveler's survival guide. Sport Diver 5-6/94.

Hemdal, Jay. 1988. Marine biotopes as a theme for home aquariums. FAMA 10/88.

Hough, Dennis. 1996. The Red Sea's Gulf of Eilat. TFH 6/96.

Mayland, Hans A. 1976. Some Red Sea fishes. Marine Aquarist 7:5, 76.

Mergner, Hans 1971. Structure, ecology and zonation of Red Sea Reefs. Symp. Zool. Soc.  Lond., 28: 263-299

Michael, Scott W. 1998. Reef Fishes, v. 1. Microcosm, VT. 624 pp.

Nelson, Joseph S. 1994. Fishes of the World. Wiley, NY. 600 pp.

Randall, John E. 1983. Red Sea Reef Fishes. Immel Publishing, London.192 pp.

Randall, John E. 1995.Coastal Fishes of Oman. U. of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu 439 pp.

Rashad, Byron K. 1996. Red Sea fish for the reef aquarium; jewels of the desert sea. FAMA 5/96.

Tepoot, Pablo & Ian. 1996. Marine Aquarium Companion; Southeast Asia. New Life Publications, FL. 358 pp.

Veron, J.E.N. 2000. Corals of the World. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 3 vol.s

Vine, Peter. 1986. Red Sea Invertebrates. Immel Publishing, London. 224 pp.


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