Coral fishes - fishes of the families Chaetodontidae, Pomacentridae, Scaridae, Acanthuridae and others, living mainly in tropical and subtropical zones of the World Ocean in the area of coral reefs. Have a bright coloration, have increased maneuverability. Coral fishes are characterized by a diversity of forms and species due to the emergence of various forms of adaptability.
Coral reefs form a complex of ecosystems characterized by enormous biodiversity. A small reef can be home to myriad organisms, including several hundred species of fish. Many coral fish have camouflage or hide well, and are well adapted to their habitat. Coral fishes are an ecological category; they belong to different families but share a common habitat and often have convergent morphological similarities related to similar habitat conditions and diet.
Most coral reef fish belong to the ray-finned class, with characteristic bony rays and spines in their fins. Often these spines are connected to poison glands and are capable of locking themselves in an upright position. They provide excellent defense. In addition, many reef fish have camouflage coloration. Reef fish have also developed complex patterns of adaptive behavior. Smaller species hide in crevices or gather in flocks and herds. Many have a limited individualized habitat area where every shelter is known and to which they can instantly retreat. Others patrol the reef in flocks, but return to the same spot to rest. Spinorhogs are able to squeeze into a small crevice and prostrate themselves there with vertically raised spines. An example of adaptability can be herbivorous Zebrasoma flavescens, which feeds on bottom algae and, in addition, acting as cleaners, eating overgrowth from the shells of sea turtles. They do not tolerate the presence of other fish with a similar body shape and colored yellow. When an intruder appears, they raise the spines on their tail and chase it away with quick sideways swipes.
Most reef fish differ in body shape from pelagic fish. The latter are adapted to life in open water, their bodies have a streamlined spindle or torpedo-shaped body shape, minimizing friction and allowing high speed. Coral fish live in relatively confined spaces, are sedentary and adapted to the complex underwater landscapes of reefs. For them, maneuverability is more important than speed in a straight line movement, their bodies are adapted to make rapid throws and dramatic changes in direction. With such movements, they are able to escape predators by hiding in crevices, or rapidly slipping around coral elevations. Small and medium-sized butterfly fish and angel fish have a high, strongly compressed from the sides of the body and a small terminal retractable mouth. Their pelvic and pectoral fins have different structures and together with the flattened body they optimize maneuverability.
Many reef fish are characterized by bright and variegated coloration. In many cases, it serves as camouflage. Some fish are visually compartmentalized. Wide dark stripes alternate with light, and large irregularly shaped marks strongly distort the silhouette. A number of poisonous fish have a warning coloration, such as the winged zebra, which in case of danger turns around, showing the spread red and white fins. The coloration of amphiprion (alternating red or orange and white stripes) dissects their body, turning them in the eyes of predators in a cluster of small red spots, in addition, it plays an important role in recognizing individuals of their species. The four-eyed butterfly fish gets its name from the large dark spot located on each side of the body at the rear. It has a bright white border that resembles an eye spot. At the same time, the real eye is masked by a black vertical stripe. The fish seems bigger than it really is, in addition, the predator, attacking primarily the head, confuses the front and tail of the potential victim. In case of danger, the butterfly fish instinctively turns to flee by exposing the eyed rear part of the body. If escape is impossible, the butterflyfish turns frontward, lowers its head, and raises its barbs in an attempt to intimidate the offender.
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