We’re going to take a break from our usual routine in this article. Instead of sharing a recipe, discussing our products, or expounding on the nutritional benefits of seafood, we’ll be talking about sea creatures you won’t be eating. This is not to say that you wouldn’t want to eat many of them if you could. That’s because we’re about to introduce you to seven of the most beautiful creatures of the world’s oceans. To start things off, we’ll talk a little bit about the mandarinfish.
1. Mandarinfish – While its name may lead one to believe that the mandarinfish is from China, it is actually native to Pacific waters further to the south. The vast majority of them live in and around the breathtaking coral reefs of the Australian coast.
Their name is a reference to the fact that the first people to discover these particular fish were reminded of the royal robes worn by Chinese mandarins. Their bodies present a striking blue color, marked with orange and yellow stripes and swirls throughout their bodies and most notably on their fins.
Mandarinfish are small, rarely exceeding 2 inches in length. Because of this, they are not sought out as a food source by humans. They are, however, a very popular fish among saltwater aquarium enthusiasts, most of whom can’t resist the beauty of these fish and simply must them among their collections. It can be a difficult task trying to get a mandarin fish to eat store-bought fish food, since they will sometimes refuse to eat anything that is not part of their natural diet in the wild. Consequently, it is very important to do your research before buying one of these guys.
2. Nudibranch – The nudibranch (plural: nudibranches) are soft bodied marine gastropod mollusks1. This is just a fancy way of saying that they’re sea slugs. Generally speaking, the word “slug” usually does not conjure up images of physical beauty in the minds of most people. This will quickly change though once you see a nudibranch for the first time.
Their brightly colored bodies show off neon hues of yellow, blue, orange, pink, green and red, along with brilliantly bright white markings as well. The color of nudibranches varies widely from one specimen to another, but their spectacular appearance comes standard.
In terms of size, there is a great deal of variation among different species of these eye-pleasing slugs. They can be shorter than one inch and in some cases, will be almost two feet long. One thing about this particular animal is truly a shame. They have very simple eyes and therefore are only able to detect brightness vs darkness. They’ll never know how good they look. Nudibranches are not eaten by humans. When it comes to their diets, sea sponges, barnacles and even other nudibranches are some of the most popular items on the menu.
3. Yellow Tang – Yellow tang, as you might guess, present a bright and radiant yellow color. A relative of the dangerous surgeonfish, the yellow tang usually grows to be about 8 inches long at fully maturity. While one may be tempted to say “yellow tangs” the pluralization for this fish is simply “yellow tang” – exactly the same as its singular form.
Yellow tang tend to eat algae and seaweed which can often be in hard to reach places. They are aided in this endeavor by their relatively long and beak-like mouths. The natural habitat of the yellow tang spans the Pacific and Indian Oceans2. They rarely stray any further north than the coast of Japan or any closer to the mainland of North America than the Hawaiian islands. Many find themselves plucked from their natural habitat by professional aquarium dealers.
After being caught, most yellow tang will either wind up on display in public aquariums or in the homes of tropical fish hobbyists in smaller saltwater tanks. They are a very popular aquarium fish, and this is at least in part due to their long lifespans. If given enough swimming room and proper care and nutrition, a yellow tang can live for more than 20 years.
4. Mantis Shrimp – The mantis shrimp features a shockingly bright red exoskeleton which is ticked and adorned with many other florescent colors. They normally max out at about a foot in length from head to tail. There are some specimen that can grow slightly larger than this, but not by a whole lot. They’re not the most social creatures in the sea and they’re also not among the most frequently spotted. This is because they are solitary animals who spend most of their lives in tunnels they dig beneath the ocean floor.
While the mantis shrimp is certainly beautiful, it is a very powerful animal as well, especially given its small size. They use their powerful claws to attack prey, punish interfering humans, and in some cases, have even used them to smash right through aquarium walls.
One of the most amazing parts of a mantis shrimp is its eyes. Their eyes are highly complex and are capable of viewing even more colors than the human eye can. They also have exceptional depth perception and motion detection, enabling them to become efficient hunters and powerful adversaries to potential attackers.
5. Marine Angelfish – The marine angelfish (not to be confused with the freshwater angelfish) dwells among the coral reefs of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They exhibit exquisite striping of bright yellow, blue, and white along their bodies, which are quit thin but tall. In terms of length, a typical angelfish grows to be about 10 inches. This can vary though, as there are several sub-species who appear quite similar but are of different sizes.
The body of an angelfish is equipped with small sharp spines that aid in protecting their gills. Their fins often have soft and brightly colored streamer-like extensions3 which further help in identifying them. Angelfish can be considered to be either friendly or fierce, depending on what kind of animal you are. In any event, they are highly social and aren’t very fearful. They have been known to swim right up to divers and hang out with them as they explore coral reefs.
Angelfish are an omnivorous species, dining on plant life such as algae and animals such as the sea sponge. While most home aquarium owners hope to get their hands on an Angelfish, not many are able to do so as they are highly expensive.
6. Clownfish – Clownfish are one of the unmistakable beauties of the deep, instantly recognizable by their trademark orange, white, and black patterns. They are yet another relatively small fish, with most being between four and seven inches in length.
Like many of the marine species we’ve already touched upon in this article, clownfish like to make their homes among coral reefs. This restricts them to inhabiting the more tropical regions of the planet, specifically those within the Indian and Pacific Oceans. For whatever reason, the coral reefs of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are devoid of clownfish – at least those who were not intentionally placed there by humans.
Clownfish are another omnivorous species, but tend to lean more toward the herbivore end of the spectrum. They love to eat algae (anybody noticing a trend here?) but also enjoy filling up on plankton when the opportunity arises. They are immensely popular in the aquarium industry, accounting for more than 40% of average annual sales.
Some clownfish form symbiotic relationships with sea anemones and in some extreme cases, will not stray more than a foot away from a an anemone to which they have become particularly attached. The anemones consume what the clownfish excrete and the clownfish benefit by way of protection from predators and getting to eat the leftovers that get tangled in the anemone’s tentacles.
7. Parrotfish – Last but certainly not least on our list of aesthetically pleasing sea creatures is the parrotfish. Parrotfish comprise a group of around 90 different sub-species, all of which are stunningly marked with bright colors and prominent facial features. Once again, this is a variety of fish that likes to live among coral reefs, specifically those located in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Parrotfish get their name from their unique faces. To be precise, it is the mouth of the parrotfish that stands out the most. They have a very unusual tooth structure. A parrotfish’s teeth are tightly packed into a small are on the external portion of their lower mandibles. These unique teeth prove to be very helpful in snagging food.
As stated before, there are many different kinds of parrotfish. These sub-species are distinguished from each other mostly by virtue of their size. The smallest specimen are around a foot long while the largest can be more than four feet in length.
Parrotfish change gender throughout their lives and this is accompanied by changes in color. The same is true in regard to their outward appearance as they progress through the various steps of their maturation process. All in all, they are a very attractive and unique fish and one that are truly a sight to behold.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking at and reading about these good-looking sea creatures. Now you can impress your friends by pointing out who’s who during your next aquarium trip. Alternately, if you’re lucky enough to be able to take a vacation to a destination that includes coral reefs, you’ll hopefully have the good fortune to see one (or more) in person.
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