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29 Fish that Live in Coral Reefs (A to Z List with Pictures)

29 Fish that Live in Coral Reefs

Examples of fish that live in coral reefs include black triggerfish, bluestripe snapper, clown triggerfish, copper-band butterflyfish, and coral grouper.

Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, and as a result, they are home to a wide variety of fish. Some of these fish have adapted specifically to life in coral reefs, while others simply take advantage of the resources that these ecosystems provide.

In this post, we will take a closer look at some of the fish that live in coral reefs and what makes them unique.

Examples of Fish that Live in Coral Reefs

1. Black Triggerfish

Black Triggerfish
Scientific NameMelichthys niger
Type of AnimalFish
RangeHawaii, up through Polynesia, westward to the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean

The black triggerfish is a species of triggerfish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These fish are easily recognized by their distinctive black and white coloration, as well as the large black spot on their tail fin. Black triggerfish grow to a maximum length of around 30 cm (12 in), and they feed primarily on small invertebrates.

Related Article: 25 Fish that Bite

2. Bluestripe Snapper

Bluestripe Snapper
Scientific NameLutjanus kasmira
Type of AnimalFish
Rangefrom the coast of Egypt bordering the Red Sea, south to Madagascar, and east to India, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and a number of Pacific islands

The bluestripe snapper is a small fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Pacific island. This fish gets its name from the blue stripes that run along its body. The bluestripe snapper is a carnivore and feeds on smaller fish and crustaceans.

Related Article: 25 Fish that Give Live Birth

3. Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish
Scientific NameBalistoides conspicillum
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeon reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific, from East Africa’s tropical coast in the Indian Ocean to the shores of Samoa in the Central Pacific

The clown triggerfish is one of the most iconic fish that call coral reefs home. These brightly colored fish are easily recognizable thanks to their distinctive patterns and colors. Clown triggerfish are predators, and they primarily feed on small invertebrates. These fish have large mouths and sharp teeth that help them to capture and eat their prey.

Related Article: 13 Fish that Look Like Dragons

4. Copperband Butterflyfish

Copperband Butterflyfish
Scientific NameChelmon rostratus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangereefs in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans

The copperband butterflyfish is a brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs in Pacific and Indian Oceans. These fish get their name from the distinctive band of black and white stripes that runs across their eyes. Copperband butterflyfish are relatively small, reaching a maximum length of around 6 inches (15 cm).

5. Coral Grouper

coral grouper
Scientific NameCephalopholis miniata
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeas far north as southern Japan and south to northern Australia

The coral grouper is a large fish that can grow up to 3 feet in length. This fish is characterized by its brown and white stripes, which help it blend in with the coral reef. The coral grouper is a predator, and it feeds on smaller fish, crabs, and shrimp.

6. Coral Trout

Coral Trout
Scientific NamePlectropomus leopardus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangefound in the western tropical Pacific (from southern Japan through Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia

The coral trout is a species of fish that is found in coral reefs in the western tropical Pacific oceans. These fish are very brightly colored, with patterns of orange, red, and white on their bodies. Coral trout can grow to be quite large, reaching lengths of up to 1 meter (3 feet).

7. Emperor Angelfish

Emperor Angelfish
Scientific NamePomacanthus imperator
Type of AnimalFish
Rangecoral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and have been reported off the coast of Hawaii

The emperor angelfish is a stunning fish that is native to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. This fish is easily recognizable thanks to its bright blue and yellow stripes. The emperor angelfish can grow to be about a foot long, and it has a lifespan of around 10 years.

This fish feeds primarily on coral polyps, and it has been known to damage live coral reefs in its quest for food. As a result, the emperor angelfish is considered to be one of the most destructive fish in the Great Barrier Reef.

8. Falco Hawkfish

Scientific NameCirrhitichthys falco
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe tropical Indo-Pacific from Africa to the Marshall Islands and from southern Japan to Australia

The Falco hawkfish is a small, brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These fish are named for their hunting behavior, which involves perching on top of corals and other structures and waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.

9. Firefish

Firefish
Scientific NamePterois volitans
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Indian and Pacific oceans from the eastern coast of Africa to the Hawaiian Islands and from the Austral Islands north to the Ryukyu Islands

The firefish is a small, brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These fish get their name from the bright red stripes that run along their body. Firefish are very shy and timid, and as a result, they are often preyed upon by larger fish.

In spite of this, firefish have a number of adaptations that allow them to survive in their environment. For example, firefish are able to quickly change the color of their stripes from red to white. This helps them to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.

10. Four-eye Butterflyfish

Four-eye Butterflyfish
Scientific NameChaetodon capistratus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetropical western Atlantic

The four-eye butterflyfish is a small, brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs around the world. This fish gets its name from the large dark spot on its body, which is surrounded by a bright white ring. The four-eye butterflyfish is a timid creature that spends most of its time hiding among the coral.

11. Giant Morays

Giant Moray
Scientific NameGymnothorax javanicus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeIndo-Pacific region

These eels can grow to be quite large, with some specimens reaching lengths of over 10 feet. Giant Morays are typically found in caves or crevices in coral reefs, where they lie in wait for their prey. These eels are excellent swimmers and use their powerful tails to propel themselves through the water at high speeds

12. Gray Angelfish

Gray Angelfish
Scientific NamePomacanthus arcuatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeamong the coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean

One of the most iconic fish of the coral reef, the gray angelfish is easily recognizable by its striking coloration. These fish are found in reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and they play an important role in the ecosystem by eating algae.

13. Longnose Hawkfish

Scientific NameOxycirrhites typus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetropical reefs of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean

One of the most common fish that live in coral reefs is the longnose hawkfish. These brightly colored fish are easily recognizable thanks to their long, pointed noses. Longnose hawkfish are opportunistic predators, meaning that they will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths.

14. Maroon Clownfish

Maroon Clownfish
Scientific NamePremnas biaculeatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Indo-Pacific from western Indonesia to Taiwan and the Great Barrier Reef

The maroon clownfish is one of the most recognizable reef fish, thanks in part to its starring role in the movie Finding Nemo. These fish are easily recognizable by their bright orange coloration and white stripes. Maroon clownfish are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and they typically live in close association with anemones.

15. Orange-Green Triggerfish

Orange-Green Triggerfish
Scientific NameBalistapus undulatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangenear coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific

As its name suggests, the orange-green triggerfish is a brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs. This fish gets its name from the large dorsal fin that it uses to trigger its prey. The orange-green triggerfish feeds on a variety of small invertebrates and algae.

16. Percula Clownfish

Percula Clownfish
Scientific NameAmphiprion percula
Type of AnimalFish
Rangecoral reefs living within their host anemones throughout the Indo-Pacific region to Australia in the south and southeast Asia in the north

The Percula Clownfish is one of the most popular reef fish due to its striking orange and white coloration. This fish is found in shallow waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Clownfish are uniquely adapted to life in coral reefs as they have a symbiotic relationship with anemones.

17. Pink Skunk Clownfish

Pink Skunk Clownfish
Scientific NameAmphiprion perideraion
Type of AnimalFish
Rangewest to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, east to Fiji, north to the Ryukyu Islands, and South to New Caledonia

The pink skunk clownfish is a species of anemonefish that is native to the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. This fish gets its name from its bright pink coloration and the white stripe that runs down its back.

18. Porcupinefish

Long-Spine Porcupinefish
Scientific NameDiodontidae
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Mediterranean Sea

Porcupinefish are one of the most distinctive fish that you’ll find on a coral reef. They get their name from their large, spiny scales, which help to protect them from predators. These fish are relatively slow-moving, and they often hide among the coral to avoid being seen. When they feel threatened, they can inflate their body to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating.

19. Purple Firefish

Purple Firefish
Scientific NameNemateleotris decora
Type of AnimalFish
RangeMauritius, Samoa, the Ryukyu Islands, and other nearby areas

The Purple Firefish is a small, brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These fish get their name from their distinctive purple coloration, which is thought to help them blend in with the colorful corals they live amongst.

20. Queen Angelfish

Queen Angelfish
Scientific NameHolacanthus ciliaris
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Western Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to Brazil and the Caribbean

The Queen Angelfish is a brightly colored fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Caribbean. This species of fish can grow to be up to 18 inches long, and it is distinguished by its blue body with yellow stripes. The Queen Angelfish is a popular choice for aquariums because of its beautiful appearance.

21. Regal Tang

Scientific NameParacanthurus hepatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethroughout the Indo-Pacific

The regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) is a beautiful fish that is easily recognizable by its bright blue coloration. This fish is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region and can grow to be about 10 inches long. The regal tang is a herbivore, feeding primarily on algae.

22. Rock Beauty Angelfish

Rock Beauty Angelfish
Scientific NameHolacanthus tricolor
Type of AnimalFish
RangeGeorgia, USA, to Bermuda, and thorough the northern Gulf of Mexico all the way down to Santa Catarina in Brazil

One of the most beautiful fish in the coral reef is the rock beauty angelfish. This fish gets its name from its stunning coloration, which can range from deep blue to bright yellow. Rock beauty angelfish are found in reefs throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

23. Royal Gramma

Scientific NameGramma loreto
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetropical western Atlantic Ocean

The Royal Gramma is a small, colorful fish that is native to the Caribbean Sea. This fish gets its name from its bright purple and yellow stripes, which resemble the colors of a royal robe. The Royal Gramma is a popular choice for saltwater aquariums because of its vibrant colors and peaceful demeanor.

24. Saddleback Butterflyfish

Saddleback Butterflyfish
Scientific NameChaetodon ephippium
Type of AnimalFish
RangeIndian and Pacific Oceans from Sri Lanka and the Cocos-Keeling Islands to the Hawaiian, Marquesan, and Tuamotu islands

The saddleback butterflyfish is one of the many fish that have adapted to life in coral reefs. This fish gets its name from the dark saddle-shaped marking that runs down its back. Saddleback butterflyfish are found in tropical waters throughout the world, and they typically grow to be about 4-5 inches long.

25. Striated Frogfish

Striated Frogfish
Scientific NameAntennarius striatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe eastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa from Senegal to Southwest Africa including a single record from St. Helena

The striated frogfish is a small, but venomous fish that is often found in coral reefs. This fish gets its name from the black stripes that run along its body. The striated frogfish is a carnivore and uses its long, lure-like appendage to lure prey close before snapping it up with its powerful jaws.

26. Titan Triggerfish

Titan Triggerfish
Scientific NameBalistoides viridescens
Type of AnimalFish
Rangein lagoons and at reefs to depths of 50 m (160 ft) in most of the Indo-Pacific

The titan triggerfish is a large, brightly-colored fish that is found in coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific. This fish gets its name from its large size and its aggressive behavior. Titan triggerfish are known to be highly territorial, and they will often attack other fish that enter their territory. In addition to being aggressive, titan triggerfish are also very good swimmers.

27. Tomato Clownfish

Tomato Clownfish
Scientific NameAmphiprion frenatus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeThe South China Sea from the Gulf of Thailand west to Palau east and from Java south to Japan in the north

The Tomato Clownfish is one of the most popular fish in the aquarium trade. It gets its name from its bright red and orange coloration, which is reminiscent of a tomato. This fish is found in coral reefs throughout the South China Seas.

28. Wrasses

Wrasses
Scientific NameLabridae
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethroughout the world in tropical and temperate seas

The wrasses are a large, diverse family of fish that are found in all sorts of habitats, including coral reefs. There are over 600 species of wrasse, and they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

29. Yellowfin Goatfish

Yellowfin Goatfish
Scientific NameMulloidichthys vanicolensis
Type of AnimalFish
Rangewidespread in the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to Hawaii and the Tuamotus, north to Japan, and to Lord Howe Island to the south

The yellowfin goatfish is a species of reef fish that is found in the Indo-Pacific region. It gets its name from the distinctive yellow fins that it has. This fish can grow to be about 18 inches long, and it is typically a golden-brown color with white spots.

Conclusion

There are many different types of fish that live in coral reefs. Some of the most popular include angelfish, clownfish, and parrotfish. The fish that live in coral reefs play a very important role in the ecosystem. They help to keep the coral clean and free of algae. The fish also provide food for other animals that live on the reef and without the fish, the coral reef would not be able to survive.

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