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Elongated/tapered juvenile? But which?

Discussion in 'Name that Critter' started by Slow, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. Slow

    Slow Nassau Grouper

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    I'm a total newb at fish ID, but after a lot of book flipping and googling, the best I am coming up with is "some sort of juvenile snapper or grunt"...so, I'm posting here to ask what it is. Hoping to hone my ID skills.
    P6280190_zpsoyg9cpjg.jpg
    (1) How big is the critter? 3-4 inches

    (2) Where in the world is the critter? Cayman Brac

    (3) What sort of habitat (reef, wreck, sand, rubble etc) is the critter in? Rubble near reef

    (4) How deep is the critter? ~30 feet

    (5) What time of day (or night) did you see the critter? Late morning/early afternoon

    (6) Any observed behavior of the critter... Swimming low around rubble in the sand near a reef. My inital though was that it was a bottom dweller, but after searching through Reef Fish ID book, it looks more similar to juvenile grunts/snappers I think...but nothing seems to match.
     
  2. ColoDale

    ColoDale ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Cozumel
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    It's hard to tell from the photo what colors are there due to white balance and that the tail is sightly out of focus (easy since it's transparent and probably moving though I do see spots on it).

    I can't be sure but given the tiger spotting below the midline and the spots on tail I am going to guess that it is a Harlequin bass. The size you gave (3-4 inches) would make it an adult but the adult should have some yellowish color on the lower body and pale blue lines on the head which I cannot see. However I understand that the Harlequin Bass can change the stripe and bar pattern and with paler or darker color.

    Were there any other colors on the fish? Yellow on body or pale blue on the head? Other photos?

    I don't think it's a juvenile grunt (or specifically Sailors Choice or Cottonwick) due to the lack of many small spots on the tail and lack of tiger marks on the body.

    That's my guess.
     
    Slow likes this.
  3. Slow

    Slow Nassau Grouper

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    I think you're exactly right. (and given the crappiness of the picture, I'm severely impressed)

    It didn't have any colors that I saw other than the black/gray and white. All my other pics of it are even worse than this one, but based on what's in the pic and my memory of this fish, it looked exactly like the pic on this page: Harlequin Bass

    Thanks!
     
  4. Slow

    Slow Nassau Grouper

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    Interesting learning for me: I had skipped over the "heavy bodies/large lips" section in Humann/Deloach since the fish looked so small and sleek to me...
     
  5. ColoDale

    ColoDale ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Cozumel
    836
    388
    63
    Fortunately the Humann/Deloach ID books frequently show the juvenile next to the adult. I was headed initially to juvenile fish with this one but got no matches. So I had to go in a different direction. I always look at tail shape (rounded, crescent, transparent or not, spots, points), body lines (color, body and head), and fins to lead me. The heavy body/large lips can be misleading.
     
    Slow likes this.
  6. RyanT

    RyanT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    1,772
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    Yes, harlequin bass. As @ColoDale mentioned, the title "heavy body" can be a little misleading. It doesn't necessarily refer to absolute size, but rather how the fish "looks."
     
    Slow likes this.
  7. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
    4,099
    2,685
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    I would say definitely a Harlequin Bass. Its shape and patterning is pretty unique. Cute little fish. (ryanT posted as I was writing this)
     
    Slow likes this.

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