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Related FAQs: Marine Life of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles: TWA Invertebrates, Algae, Vascular Plants, Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 3

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,


Bob Fenner  

Grammas, Family Grammatidae. Grammas are confusingly termed "Basslets", and though related to the Basses (same Suborder), make up their own distinct family. An indispensable, stock aquarium species, the Royal Gramma, Gramma loreto (1), is an archetypal aquarium species. Descending into greater depths in similar environments you'll find the more expensive Blackcap Basslet, G. melacara (1) (60-400 feet) and Yellowcheek Basslet, G. lincki (2); the latter and one other grammatid rarely offered in the trade.

Ecotype: Vertical walls under overhangs and within caves, often upside-down.

There are but a couple of grammatids that are highly prized in the aquarium hobby. Gramma loreto, the Royal Gramma is the  Basslet or Gramma to many. Colorwise it's front half varies from purple to violet, with the back half a bright yellow. The second in Bonaire.

Bigeyes, or Catalufas, Family Priacanthidae. These fishes are often listed by wholesalers and dealers as "Soldiers" or this and that "Squirrelfish", which they do resemble with their shiny reddish coloring, large eyes, and shy, nocturnal habits. But priacanthids are not really closely related to the holocentrids. Two species are commonly brought out from the TWA for our aquaristic interest. The Glasseye Snapper, Priacanthus cruentatus (2) is the larger, attaining a foot in length. The aptly named Short Bigeye, Pristigenys alta (2), grows to about four inches.

Ecotype: Reef and rocky areas with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in.

Cardinalfishes, Family Apogonidae. Other authors list more than the two TWA Cardinal species that I've regularly across in the trade. The Flamefish, Apogon maculatus (2), and very similar Twospot, A. pseudomaculatus (2) are all I've seen on the U.S. west coast in any numbers. Both are quite hardy, especially given their timid, fragile appearance, and make good additions to peaceful marine set-ups of all kinds.

Ecotype: Reefs in crevices by day, coming out to feed at night.

Apogon binotatus (Poey 1867), the Barred Cardinalfish. West-Central Atlantic; Florida to Venezuela. To four inches in length. Bonaire pic.

Apogon maculatus (Poey 1860), Flamefish. Western Pacific, Massachusetts to Brazil. To four or so inches in length. Here are images of the species in the Bahamas during the day and night. 2-60 feet. 

Apogon quadrisquamatus Longley 1934, Sawcheek Cardinalfish. Western Pacific; Florida to Venezuela. To 7 cm. in length. Bonaire pic at night.

Apogon townsendi (Breder 1927), the Barred Cardinalfish. West-Central Atlantic; Florida to Venezuela. To 6.5 cm. in length. Bonaire pic.

Hawkfishes, Cirrhitidae. There is but one species in this family in the TWA, the Caribbean or Redspotted Hawkfish, Amblycirrhitus pinos (1). Like other hawks, this is a shy retiring animal that spends most of its time stationed on a prominence watching the world go by.

Ecotype: Coral reefs, resting on top of coral or hiding under.

Remoras, Family Echeneidae. The one common species in the TWA, the Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates (2), is found worldwide and collected from the same. This is a really tough animal that does well without a "traveling companion" to stick to. In fact, one must take care to not constantly overfeed remoras, as they grow very quickly; and this species gets more than three feet in length.

Ecotype: Found attached to larger sharks, boats, swimming free for an opportunistic clean-up meal.

Echeneis naucrates Linnaeus 1758, the Remora or Sharksucker. Circumtropical. To 110 cm. in length. Most noted for their modified dorsal fin attachment organ, by which they join temporarily with a variety of hosts (whales, dolphins, ships, divers...). Even used by humans for a fishing tool! A free-swimming small individual in Fiji and a larger pair swimming about in the Bahamas.

Sand Tilefishes, Family Malacanthidae:

Malacanthus plumieri (Bloch 1786), the Sand Tilefish. Tropical West Atlantic; Carolina to Uruguay and Ascencion Isl. To twenty eight inches in length. Bahamas, St. Thomas and Cozumel pix of six and ten inch individuals. 

Grunts, Family Haemulidae (Pomadasyidae). Named for the audible grunting noises they make, only two species of haemulids are regularly utilized from the TWA. Thank goodness, they're more hardy stock than most of their non-Atlantic brethren. The French Grunt, Haemulon flavolineatum (2) and Porkfish, Anisotremus virginicus (2), should be familiar to you if you've been "in the life" for long. I'd like to give a "plug" to some of the other grunts hailing from the TWA if you don't mind. IMO, the Cottonwick, H. melanurum, Bluestriped, H. sciurus, and White Grunts, H. plumieri deserve a try (all 2's) '¦ among others. They're medium-hardy, good looking, there are bunches of them, and they're easy to collect.

Anisotremus virginicus Linnaeus 1758, the Atlantic Porkfish. The most commonly offered member of the family (that lives... see the Sweetlips section below). Tropical West Atlantic. To fifteen inches in length. A nice addition to a peaceful tropical Atlantic biotope presentation. Bahamas pic.

Haemulon album Cuvier 1830, the White Margate. Tropical West Atlantic. A food and game as well as occasional pet-fish... Grows to about two feet maximum length. This one photographed in the Bahamas. Yes, those are two Royal Grammas hanging upside down under a ledge with the Margate. Bahamas image.

Haemulon chrysargyreum Gunther 1859, the Smallmouth Grunt. At nine inches maximum length, a far easier fish to keep than its larger kin. Tropical West Atlantic. 

Haemulon flavolineatum (Desmarest 1823), the French Grunt. Another common "Grunt" offering out of the tropical West Atlantic. This one part of a typically large school in the Bahamas. To one foot in length.

Haemulon melanurum Linnaeus 1758, the Cottonwick Grunt. Tropical West Atlantic. To thirteen inches in length. An image of a single and school of Cottonwick Grunts in Tobago.
Haemulon parra (Desmarest 1823), the Sailor's Choice Grunt. West Atlantic. To sixteen inches in length. Not a great beauty, but at times collected for the pet-fish trade.

Haemulon plumieri (Lacepede 1801), the White Grunt. Tropical West Atlantic. To eighteen inches in length. Again, another occasional ornamental aquatic out of the Caribbean.
Haemulon sciurus (Shaw 1803), the Bluestriped Grunt.  To eighteen inches in length. A species that ought to be used more in the aquarium interest, though it can grow to some eighteen inches in length. Bahamas pix.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,

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