There is a great diversity of bony fish species. Here, some of the more interesting specimens including the devil firefish, emperor angelfish, garden eel and Knysna seahorse are illustrated and discussed.
Devil firefish (Pterois volitans)
A most striking fish, the devil firefish belongs to the Scorpaenidae family due to its deadly dorsal spines. It is also known as the lionfish or dragon fish in other parts of the world. When capturing prey it extends its large pectoral fins to block and corner the prey before devouring it whole. It is grouped with the stonefish and other members of the Scorpaenidae family, since it uses its sharp spines to inflict an extremely painful "sting".
Emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)
The emperor angelfish is one of the most colourful and majestic of all angelfish found in the tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific Oceans. It inhabits coral reefs along the coastline to a depth of 100m. It grows up to 40cm long and may live for 14 years. Angelfish young are differently coloured and were considered a different species until 1933 when they were found to be the juvenile form of the fish.
Emperor snapper (Lutjanus sebae)
This is a most striking fish belonging to the Lutjanidae or snapper fish family. Found in the Indo West Pacific region, it can attain one meter in length. As a juvenile it is vividly covered in red and black markings and as it ages the overall colouration changes to reddish-pink. It has a varied diet consisting primarily of crustaceans and fish.
Garden eel (Congridae)
These shy and timid eels are often seen living together in large colonies of up to 100 or more in Indo-Pacific oceans. They feed on microscopic particles which float past in ocean currents. When threatened they quickly retreat to their burrowing hole for safety. Two species of garden eel are housed at uShaka Sea World: the spotted garden eel (Heteroconger hassi) and the splendid garden eel (Gorgasia preclara).
Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis)
This seahorse is endemic to South Africa and is found in bays or estuaries in among the vegetation. As with other seahorses, the male becomes pregnant and gives birth to approximately 200 fry every three weeks. The Kynsna seahorse is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Paperfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)
The paperfish belongs to the Scorpaenidae family. It is not a very active swimmer and relies on ambush tactics to capture its prey. By using its surroundings as camouflage this fish is able to hide from predators and potential prey. As with most members of its family, the paperfish has the ability to shed its skin to get rid of algae or parasites.
Pineapple fish (Cleidopus gloriamaris)
The pineapple fish is aptly named because it looks similar to the fruit. This fish is able to emit a yellow glow thanks to bacteria produced by a gland in its jaw. This adaptation is used to attract various microscopic organisms that it preys on. Pineapple fish are a favourite in many aquariums across the world.
Pipefish (Hippichthy cyanospileas)
The pipefish is a cousin of the seahorse. It is often found among seaweed where it hides from predators. It is generally dark brown so it can blend in with its surroundings. It feeds on mysids and other small crustaceans and lives in sub-tropical and tropical waters.