In this session of our visual meditation series, we’d like to bring the Trumpetfish, in this case, Aulostomus chinesis, to your attention. Their scientific name „Aulostomus“ is derived from the Greek words for flute (aulos), and mouth (stoma). Looking at the creature, one can sort of understanding how they got to this name.
Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinesis)
Worldwide there are 3 species of Trumpetfishes, namely A. maculatus which can be found in the Caribbean Sea and Northern parts of South America. A. strigosus, which inhabits the Atlantic coastal waters of Africa and South America. And lastly, the leading actor of this episode A. chinesis which lives in the Indo-Pacific region.
All about looks
Trumpetfish are easily recognizable by their long elongated bodies and long heads with compressed snouts. At the tip of these elongated snouts, is a single prominent barbell, which can be used for defence. Their dorsal and anal fins are small, reduced, and set very far back on the fish’s body, lending an almost snake-like appearance. Their dorsal fins are preceded by twelve dorsal spines, and the caudal (tail) fin is small and highly rounded. All of these adaptations have led to the fact that the Trumpetfish is not a great swimmer.
Where to look for trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinesis)
They like to inhabit the seagrass beds, coral reefs and reef flats of the tropical and sub-tropical waters in their particular areas, where they can be found in areas with abundant vertical structures, like whip corals, sponges, and fan corals, in which they can easily blend in. From these places of concealment, they hunt for small fish and crustaceans, usually approaching their prey slowly from above, in a vertical manner.
How they hunt
They have also been known to use larger fish, or even divers, as camouflage in their search for food. Although most of their food consists of small prey, they have been known to occasionally dine on larger fish as well, like grunts and surgeonfish. When hunting, Trumpetfish are able to open their mouths wider than the diameter of their own body, facilitated by elastic mouth tissues, creating a vacuum that sucks the prey into the fish’s mouth.
The next generation: Aulostomus chinesis
The intricacies of Trumpetfish reproduction are not well studied, but it is known that they use their chromatophore colour-changing abilities to conduct elaborate mating display rituals. These courtship rituals occur near the surface, and then, as in their close relatives the seahorses, the burden of caring for the eggs is given to the male, who fertilizes them and carries them in a special pouch until they hatch.
What an amazing creature!