March 1, 2017

Coral Reef Fish

Specialized cells for color and iridescence


  • Cells that contain pigments
  • Stimulated by nerve impulses and or hormones
  • The higher the density of these cells the more brilliant color the fish

Synchiropus splendidus 2 Luc Viatour.jpg

Mandarinfish” by Luc Viatour under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


  • Cells with crystals that reflect light
  • Act like mirror
  • Typical of silvery fish

File:Atl mackerel photo3 exp.jpg

Atl mackerel photo3” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Public Domain

-Some fish use camouflage to blend into their surroundings to keep from being eaten

-Some fish use camouflage as a foraging strategy: sit and wait hunting

Courtship, Mating, Egg Gardening

  • Some female fish may be attracted to male fish that change colors
  • Sergeant Majors take ondarker color when nest guarding
  • Clown wrasses turn bright when spawning

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Sergent Major” by Richard Ling under Flickr

Stoplight Parrot Fish

-Start out as one gender and transition into the other gender as they get older


Stoplight Parrotfish” by Adona9 under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Protogynous– Start out as females and transition into males

Protoandrous– Start as a male and transition into females


Counter – Shading

  • Some species of fish use Counter – Shading to conceal movements
  • Dark on top (dorsal) and Light on the bottom (Ventral)


Tiburón” by  Fbattail under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Other Functions of Color and Patterning

  • Conceal eye
  • Exaggerate Size
  • Advertise Toxicity
  • Aid Schooling Behavior
  • Angelfish announce territories with bright colors and behavior
  • Blue tang juveniles are yellow and they transition to blue as adults

Image result for fish with eyespot

Chaetodon capistratus1” by Chris Huss under  public domain

Image result for blue tang juvenile

Juvenile Blue Tang” by Sean Nash under Flickr

Blue Tang” by Tewy under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported