Juvenile Reef Fish
Did you know that some reef fish look completely different in their juvenile stage? You may have seen many baby fish and not even known due to the drastic transformation they make throughout their life.
Some baby reef fish look identical to their adult stage like for the example black foot anemone fish and the lionfish. They look just like mini replicas to their parents. However, some species of angel fish, sweet lips, and parrot fish show extreme differences as they go through life. Many will change colour, shape and even pattern!
The oriental sweet lip is a species that goes through drastic colour and pattern change. When young they have black and white patches covering their elongated bodies. As they grow into adults the pattern will change from the patches into long thick horizontal black and white stripes.
Emperor angel fish as juveniles will often catch your eye due to their unique pattern. The coloration is captivating. Electric blue in contrast with black and white rings which alternate, creating an almost vortex effect. This patten will completely disappear as the adult has thin horizontal blue stripes covering a yellow body. If you had trouble visualising, here is a link to picture of both.
At first glance the juvenile clown trigger fish looks just like the adult. With a closer look you will see some differences. It has the same shape and coloration through its life, but the pattern changes. The young clown trigger fish has a black body, an orange saddle, and white spots all over. As the fish grows the spots will drop down and cover the bottom half of the fish. The orange colour will expand across the back, and a yellow stripe will form across the eye.
Baby longfin batfish can often be spotted inside the shallow lagoons surrounding the islands. They look similar to their adult forms, but some features are highly emphasised. Baby batfish bodies are quite small, but they have extremely long dorsal, anal, and ventral fins. As the fish grows older the body will become bigger and these long fins will become shorter.
You may have spotted your favourite reef fish in its juvenile form and not even known!