Interesting Fish from Belize

This snapper isn't yawning, coughing or throwing up.   Instead, he's inviting the Spanish Hogfish in the foreground to clean him.   The distinct purple marking indicates that this is a juvenile Spanish Hogfish, which is the only type which performs this cleaning role, which involves removing parasites and dead tissue from the fish being cleaned.   This benefits both fish - the cleaner gets a meal and the cleanee leaves as a healthier fish.   As you can see, fish requesting this service aren't at all shy about letting the cleaner fish into the most intimate places; this same fish later opened its gill covers to allow the cleaner to clean there, too.

I didn't realize that Spanish Hogfish performed this role until I saw these two together.   A number of fish, particularly smaller wrasses and some shrimps, also act as cleaners, but I hadn't seen any fish as large as this one do it.   I found out later that Spanish Hogfish are also members of the wrasse family.

snapper inviting juvenile Spanish Hogfish to perform its cleaning function
hogfish with raised barbs

This fish is known simply as a hogfish.   I'm told that they're a favorite target of spearfishers, because they taste good.   But what interests me is the variety of markings and shades of color that they come in; the photos below show only some of the variations which I saw.

hogfish swimming above sea grass

"I'm ready for my closeup, Mr DeMille".   It's interesting to compare the markings of this fish with the one two photos higher.   They're very similar, but just a little different.   They both have the brown patch above and behind the pectoral fin, but the patches are slightly different in shape, as is the large brown patch at the front of the fish.

closeup of a hogfish
unidentified puffer fish

On the left, a puffer fish, I'm not exactly sure what variety it is.

The Atlantic Porkfish on the right wins its place in this hall of fame by just being cute.

Atlantic porkfish
Caribbean Trumpetfish hiding amongst sea whips This Caribbean Trumpetfish takes the prize for Feeble Attempts at Concealment.

The ruse goes something like this: swim on your head near something which is vaguely vertical, like the sea whips on the left of this picture, then wait a few million years until your body has lengthened a bit. 

Really, who does it think it's kidding?

Maybe after all this time this species is just too proud to admit it made a mistake.

Caribbean Trumpetfish swimming horizontally
Caribbean Trumpetfish swimming horizontally

There are times when even a Trumpetfish has to just admit defeat and swim horizontally like all the other fish - times like this, with a persistent photographer on its trail, determined to expose the fraud.

female stoplight parrotfish

On the left, a female stoplight parrotfish, and on the right a male.   The yellow mark at the base of the male's tail is supposed to be the origin of the "stoplight" name.

No, I never saw a yellow stoplight, either.

male stoplight parrotfish