Monday, May 14, 2007

Copper-banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon rostratus)

Originally uploaded by budak.
Together with the anemone clownfish, this colourful fish is probably the leading flagship of coral reef life for many. Many juvenile specimens (1-2 inches long) can be found hiding amongst the seaweeds and seagrasses off Sentosa's shoreline.

Adults reach about 20 cm in length and are popular aquarium fishes in marine aquariums. Unfortunately they don't survive well in captivity as they require a constant and quality supply of live coral polyps to thrive, so it's not kind to either buy them from shops or catch them from the wild.

Their long beak-like mouths are made for plunging deep into coral growth to pluck out small polyps and other sessile creatures. The fish's laterally-compressed body also allows it to dash easily into narrow crevices. At the end of its dorsal fin, a large eye-epot may help to confuse would-be predators that the fish is actually some other larger animal or make them aim for the tail instead of the real head.

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