Fish Lightning Maroon Clownfish | ©Tahir Mahmud

The Maroon Clownfish or Spinecheek Anemonefish, Premnas biaculeatus (Perciformes - Pomacentridae), is a species of clownfish that is found in the Indo-West Pacific, including the coasts of India, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, New Britain, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and northern Queensland.

This species is among the easiest anemonefish to identify, even when young. They are bright red with 3 bars that are bright white in males and grey in females. Individuals may become bright white if they are provoked. The lines may also be bright yellow.


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Octopus Citizen Science!

My labmate, Anne, is categorizing the body patterns of Octopus cyanea for her thesis project. Her work requires photographs and videos of Octopus cyanea. These images will be analyzed to answer questions about body pattern generation.

You can help her by either sending her your photos and videos of Octopus cyanea, which is active in the day, and found in the Indopacific (including Hawaii)… or, if you really want to help out, go to the link below and score some octopus body patterns yourself:

It takes a little time to figure out the instructions, but if you want to participate in octopus research, here’s your real opportunity!

Have fun, nerds! Share this with your friends! 

On Certain Mental Tests, the Tiny Cleaner Wrasse Outperforms Chimps

It takes a big brain to be a good criminal. Only a handful of species have the smarts to cook up a good lie, or cheat without getting caught. Humans are particularly good deceivers, along with great apes, ravens — and the bluestreak cleaner wrasse.

Though its brain weighs less than a tenth of a gram, the four-inch reef wrasse somehow manages to match — or even beat — egghead animals in certain feats of cunning. This marine Machiavelli uses its powerful memory and grasp of game theory to lie, cheat and sweet-talk its way to a full belly.

Biting the fin that feeds you

The cleaner wrasse lives in the ocean’s equivalent of New York City: crowded, vibrant and with fierce competition over real estate and business deals. Just replace the skyscrapers with heads of coral.

In the hustle and bustle of an Indopacific coral reef, this blade-shaped wrasse earns its living by nibbling parasites off ‘client’ fish that regularly stop by for a scrubbing. The wrasse gets a meal, and the client gets clean.

But there’s a catch to this happy arrangement. Scales, skin and mucus are more nutritious than parasites, and the bluesteak cleaner wrasse sometimes can’t resist the temptation to take a chunk out of the fish it should be helping.

To bite or not to bite — that’s the tactical decision that a wrasse needs to make. To make this choice, wrasses are aided by a prodigious memory. One wrasse can complete 2,000 cleaning sessions each day and may be able to keep track of more than 100 individual clients.

Bluestreak wrasses can also remember if the most recent interaction with one of its hundred-plus clients was positive or negative. If it previously mistreated a valuable customer —a big fish with lots of parasites, for example — the wrasse will offer an apology in the form of a more pleasant cleaning with an added fin ‘massage.’

Intelligent mammals like dolphins, chimps and humans all treat each other more affectionately to reconcile after conflicts. The bluestreak wrasse might be the only non-mammal that plays extra nice to make up for bad behavior.

Read more here.

Written by Allison Guy

Photo by Boris Pamikov