Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fish gear

Not long ago, it was generally believed humans were the only 'animals' that use tools. A major proof of human exceptionalism. Nowadays we are well aware of animals using tools (i.e. chimpanzees using tools to collect ants from their nests; dolphins using sponges to protect their noses as they scour the ocean bottom for food and birds using sticks to collect ants). Now chimps and dolphins are considered as the most intelligent creatures amongst animals. But fish, often considered to be the least brainy of all animals, using tools in the same way as other animals? That's a remarkable feature.

Giacomo Bernardi, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Wrote about it in the journal "Coral Reefs":  "We observed an individual of Choerodon anchorago cracking bivalves using a rock as an anvil. After two such events, we started filming the behavior, which was repeated a third time... It requires a lot of forward thinking, because there are a number of steps involved. For a fish, it’s a pretty big deal.”

The Anchor Tuskfish, showing 
its impressive teeth. 
(Photo Ned DeLorach)
Check out the video, to see Choerodon anchorago, the "Anchor" or "Orange-dotted Tuskfish, digging out a clam, carrying it to a suitable rock and then throwing the clam against the rock to break it open. Even without being a handyman, using stones as gear, the Anchor Tuskfish has ways to open up clams. Take a look at the impressive teeth at the photo and you will understand how the job is done.

You know, I won't be suprised if one of these days Sponge Bob appears to be a true species.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Only $ 19,95!

The Bladefin basslet, Jeboehlkia gladifer, which is rarely being offered for sale in the aquariumtrade, is an incredible reef fish. It's only about 3 cm (1.5 inches) long and probably one of the most expensive reef fish that has ever been offered to the aquarium hobby. An adult specimen will approximately cost you $ 8,000.-. That makes roughly $ 5,000.- an inch!

J. gladifer was described from a single, mature female specimen collected in the Caribbean at 165 meters depth  (approx. 550 feet). This is also the reason for the incredibly high cost of this bladefin basslet. Catching fish at depths of 150 meters depth raises costs. It's striking white and red coloration make it very attractive. The elongated dorsal fin distinguish Jeboehlkia from Liopropoma species. Even larvae show this remarkable elongated fin (Baldwin,1991).

Bit short on money? No worries, a T-shirt with the painted fish (the image at this blog) will only cost you $ 19,95... 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fragile dragons

Last month a new seadragon has been described: Phyllopteryx dewysea, the red seadragon. Seadragons are related to seahorses and pipefish. Remarkable creatures with extreme fins. The entire body is camouflaged, resembling pieces of coral. The Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus eques, has by far the most outrageous fins and filaments. The Red Seadragon is known by three specimens only. Its distribution range therefor limited to the only two places the species has been caught. (The holotype was trawled east of the remote Recherche Archipelago in 51 m; additional specimens extend the distribution west to Perth in 72 m). Like its relatives the red sea dragon is considered endangered. 
The image shows a male carrying brood at its tail. Just like Pipefish, Seadragon males are taking care of the eggs until hatching. Compared to the only two species of Seadragons, the new species is easily distinguishable. The Leafy Seadragon has far more filaments and shows an overall coloration which is more greenish. The filaments resemble seaweeds. The second species, the common seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, has more stripes and a dorsal fin positioned much more backward as in the red sea dragon (although it's hard to tell where the dorsal is...). The red sea dragon has the shortest filaments of all three species and shows a remarkable red coloration.

Read the first description online: Stiller, J., Wilson, N.G. & Rouse, G.W. (2015): "A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae)." - Royal Society Open Science2: 140458.

Original painting, as pictured above, on 36x52 cm white paper. One of a kind, available for $ 79.95. 
Tees, Mugs and other cool fish stuff based on my blog entries are available at my webshop: QueerFish

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Emperor's new mask

The Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator, is one of the most impressive fish available in the aquarium trade. Like many marine fish, juveniles show a completely different coloration. An odd pattern of electric white circles upon an dark blue, almost black background. Only adults have the beautiful striping and the magnificent yellow and blue mask as shown in the painting. It's a favorite among photographers, artists, and aquarists because of its unique, brilliant pattern of coloration. Adults have bulky, strong jaws usuable to chew upon sponges made up of tiny, needle-like pieces of silica. Mind you, this would be the equivalent of a human chewing on small fragments of glass!

In fact the painting is a so called 'trompe l'oeil'. What you see, actually is not there. The composition consists of sand drippings, all together creating the image of the Emperor's mask, while in fact I did not paint a fish. Nevertheless the fish is there. And not even nude like Hans Christian Andersen's emperor. ("The Emperor's New Clothes").

Original painting, as pictured above, 100x100 cm acrylics and sand on canvas. One of a kind - SOLD