Marine Community Exhibit

Tang

Range: Coral Reefs in the Pacific and Indian Ocean
Diet: Herbivores grazing on algae
Size: Most are 6-15 inches
Life Span: Up to 30 years

The distinctive characteristic of this family is the scalpel-like scale that has been modified at the base, the peduncle, of the tail.  There may be one or two of these very sharp scales depending on the individual which helps protect these fish from danger.  They have small mouths that have one row of teeth to allow them to graze on algae.

Engineer Goby

Range: West-Central Pacific Ocean
Diet: Carnivore including plankton
Size: 24 inches
Life Span: 3 years

Engineer Goby are eel-shaped fish that swim in tight formation schools to look like one organism.  Juveniles resemble a poisonous striped catfish to fend of predators.  During the day they will hunt for plankton and at night return to their burrows.  During the day, the adults will continue borrowing, moving up to 6.6 pounds of sand.  Some burrows reach the length of 6 meters.  Adults will take in mouthfuls of juveniles and spit them out again collecting a green slime for their food source.

At night, young fish dangle by their mouths from the roof of the tunnels by thin mucous threads.

Mandarin Goby

Range: Pacific Ocean
Diet: Omnivores including algae, small crustaceans and invertebrates and fish eggs
Size: 2-4 inches
Life Span: 10-15 years

Mandarinfish have a layer of smelly and bitter slime instead of scales which helps to block disease.  This and its bright coloration discourages predators from attacking.

They have large pectoral fins that allows them to “walk” on the sea floor while their pectoral fins are near their center and are nearly transparent.  Their name comes from their bright coloration evokes the image of the robes of an Imperial Chinese mandarin.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish

Range: Warmer waters of Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Pacific Ocean at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or lagoons. No Clownfish found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Diet: They are omnivores. They can eat the undigested food from their host anemones, zooplankton and algae.
Size: 3-4 inches
Life Span: Up to 10 years

Clownfish host anemones and they create a symbiotic mutualistic relationship.  The anemones protects the clownfish from predators and provide food through their scraps and in return the clownfish defend the anemones from predators and parasites.

The mucus coating of the clownfish is based on sugars rather than proteins which makes the anemone fail to recognize them as a food source and does not sting them.

Pajama Cardinal Fish

Range: Western Pacific Ocean
Diet: Carnivore including small invertebrates
Size: 3 inches
Life Span: 5 years

Male pajama cardinal fish incubate eggs in his mouth until they hatch. Once they hatch, he spits them out and then they are on their own.

The black band helps camouflage them with the spines of sea urchins and coral structures.  They hang out in small schools and found hovering in one place by caves or corals.  At night though they will split from their school and go hunting themselves.  Their huge eyes make it easier for them to see at night.