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Related FAQs: The Fishes of the Red Sea

Related Articles: Reef Flats, Reef SlopeBiotopes, Fishwatcher's Guide to the Red Sea, Triggerfishes of the Red Sea, Butterflyfishes of the Red Sea, Angelfishes of the Red Sea,  

Marine Aquarium Biotopes: Pt.3

Sandy Red Sea Reef Slope 2 of 5


Bob Fenner  

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Species Offered Occasionally from Sandy Red Sea Reef Slopes but Should be Avoided  

The Bluespotted Stingray, Taeniura lymna. Very rarely lives for any time in captivity; dying from cumulative stress and trauma from collection, holding, shipping... and infection from inappropriate aquarium habitat... Only for those with very large, open-bottomed systems with fine substrate, the patience and skill to pick out an initially healthy specimen.
Crocodilefishes, family Platycephalidae. Related to Scorpionfishes, though only commonality for aquarists is their penchant for swallowing tankmates. Nine species are found in the Red Sea. The most common is pictured: Papilloculiceps longiceps. Occasionally sold in the hobby, should be avoided. 
The Fourline Wrasse, Larabicus quadrilineatus is sold in the trade every now and then. It is beautiful, and does stay small (maximum length about four inches/ten cm.), but though it's relatively hardy and a real asset as a non-obligate cleaner as a juvenile, as adults they feed primarily on coral polyps. Shown: juvenile and adult.
"Touchy" Wrasses of the genera Macropharyngodon (M. bipartitus from here)<right> and Anampses (A. twistii, A. meleagrides, and rarely A. lineatus)<below> are offered from the Red Sea, and almost always perish; from capture, shipping trauma, starvation.

The common or Blue Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus . Thousands will be collected today and thousands will die. One out of thousands lives for a year in captivity. Indo-Pacific, east Africa, Red Sea to the Marquesas. To four and a half inches in length. Juvenile in the Red Sea, adult, for a short while, in captivity, and a pair working over a Parrotfish "customer" at their cleaning station in the Red Sea.

Ultimately too large and aggressive Triggerfishes, particularly the Blue Triggerfish, Pseudobalistes fuscus, where the Red Sea is concerned. This fish is gorgeous and "medium" aggressive as a juvenile, but grows to twenty two inches in length not counting the tail in the wild. Shown: Juvenile and adult. 
Nudibranchs like the common Chromodoris quadricolor Ruppell & Leuckart 1828. Red Sea, eastern Africa... To 4.5 cm. in length. Very frequently starve to death in captivity.  Here in the Red Sea.

Hymenocera pictus Dana 1852, the Harlequin Shrimp. Anterior first pair of legs look like tweezers, second pair covering them. First antennae flap-like... waved around side to side. Live in pairs only.  Noted for their feeding exclusively on echinoderms; starfish and urchins. 

Pincushion Sea Star, Choriaster granulatus, is a big, bulky Indo-Pacific asteroid that scavenges in reef shallows. It should only be employed in systems of hundreds of gallons size.

Leopard Blenny, Exallias brevis. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Hawaiian, Marquesan Islands. To almost six inches in length in the wild. Obligate feeders on live coral polyps. Still offered on pet-fish markets on occasion. Definitely NOT reef safe. This male in Oahu, Hawai'i. 

Survey of Best, Available Species of Sandy Red Sea Reef Slopes:

Algae: a few scattered Red algae species are found this deep down, mostly encrusting types. 

Turbinaria sp. A Brown Algae of Phylum Heterokontophyta, Order Fucales, Family Sargassaceae. Hawai'i, Red Sea close-up image.  

Sponges, Phylum Porifera. 

Are largely cryptic here (hidden, part of the inside, underside of rock, coral-stone, though some occur occasionally as large colonies of near to adult size. Shown: a Siphonochalina species of about two foot height.

Stinging-Celled Life, Phylum Cnidaria: There is a smattering of stony corals, gorgonians, the occasional sea anemone, but the hard surfaces of the sandy reef slope here are overwhelmingly dominated by Pulsing Corals of the family Xeniidae (likely ninety some percent of cnidarian presence), with the bulk of the remainder various sized stands of the hydrozoan Millepora, Fire Coral.

Several species of Xenia (X. umbellata shown), Heteroxenia fuscescens (shown) and Anthelia glauca (shown) occur on hard surfaces of the reef slope proper in calmer water settings, and are predominate on stony substrates on the Sandy Reef Slope. 

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