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Hong Kong Corals & the Associated Marine Life

Hong Kong Corals & the Associated Marine Life

> Other marine organisms  

Phylum Chordata - Reef Fish (Sub-phylum Vertebrata)

Doederlein's Cardinalfish

 Doederlein's Cardinalfish
  Apogon   doederleini   (Apogonidae)

There are 4-5 narrow brownish strips on the whitish to pinkish body. Juveniles occur in schools, often found between coral heads or large rock crevices. This species is common in local waters.


Cardinalfish are nocturnal, remaining close to shelter and in schools by day, and dispersing to feed at night. They are also interesting as the males incubate the eggs in their mouths after fertilisation until the larvae hatch. Broadbanded cardinalfish inhabit areas of silt and sand near reefs, often in large schools.

Broadbanded Cardinalfish

  Broadbanded Cardinalfish
      Apogon  fasciatus       (Apogonidae)

Longfin Grouper Epinephelus quoyanus

Longfin Grouper 

 Epinephelus  quoyanus  (Serranidae)



Blue-blotch Butterfly Fish
Blue-blotch Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  plebeius  (Chaetodontidae)

This species of butterfly fish was recently first recorded from local waters. It is quite rare, inhabiting rich areas of hard coral as it feeds mainly on live polyps of Acropora corals. Hong Kong is probably close to the northern limit for this tropical species along the coast of mainland China.


This species looks similar to C.  plebeius, but it doesn't have a black spot at the tail base. It is common in Port Shelter.

Mirror Butterfly Fish Chaetodon speculum
Mirror Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  speculum  (Chaetodontidae)
Brownband Butterfly Fish
Brownband Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  modestus 

It is a distinctive fish, with two broad brownish-yellow bars on each side of the silvery-white body. This species is one of the most abundant butterfly fish in Hong Kong. Though this butterfly fish is a deep water species in other regions, it can be found in local shallow boulder areas.


This species is unmistakable with the diagonal bands on the body and the black spot at the posterior margin. It is widespread and moderately abundant below waters of 3 m in depth.

Threadfin Butterfly Fish
Threadfin Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  auriga  (Chaetodontidae) 
Lined Butterfly Fish Chaetodon lineolatus
Lined Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  lineolatus

This species has many fine black vertical lines covering the body. The dorsal, caudal and anal fins are bright yellow. It is moderately abundant in coral areas of Port Shelter.


It has diagonal black lines on both sides of the white body and a broad black near the dorsal fin. This fish was found at Bluff Island , probably occurring from Lamma Island to Ping Chau.

Blackbacked Butterfly Fish
Blackbacked Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  melannotus  (Chaetodontidae)
Eightband Butterfly Fish
Eightband Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  octofasciatus  

It is a juvenile hiding among the branches of stony coral Acropora. It is distinctive with the 8 vertical bars on the yellow body. This species is moderately abundant in areas of Acropora corals.

Hong Kong Butterfly Fish
Hong Kong Butterfly Fish
 Chaetodon  wiebeli  (Chaetodontidae)
Long-fin Bannerfish Heniochus acuminatus

Long-fin Bannerfish 

 Heniochus  acuminatus  (Chaetodontidae)

Chinese Demoiselle Neopomacentrus bankieri
         Chinese Demoiselle             Neopomacentrus  bankieri        (Pomacentridae)      

This is the most abundant fish inhabiting coral communities after some of the gobies. It was described as a new species from a specimen collected in Hong Kong in the early 1800s. The new species was named after R.A. Bankier, a surgeon in the British Navy, who collected the specimen. Although the Chinese demoiselle is known from other regions, it only seems to be common here.


On the sides of its yellow body, seven bands can be found, which are distinctly narrower than the spaces between them. This species is common in shallow boulder and coral areas.

Bengal Sergeant Abudefduf bengalensis

   Bengal Sergeant 

 Abudefduf  bengalensis  (Pomacentridae)

Yellowtail Clownfish Amphiprion clarkii
 Yellowtail Clownfish 
 Amphiprion  clarkii  (Pomacentridae)

Its body colour is highly variable throughout its range, from orange , brown to black. The three white bars on the head and body is distinctive. This species is common and always found associated with the sea anemone  Entacmaea  quadricolor.


Blue-stripe Angelfish Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis
     Blue-stripe Angelfish     Chaetodontoplus  septentrionalis (Pomacanthidae)
Blue-ringed Angelfish Pomacanthus annularis
    Blue-ringed Angelfish    Pomacanthus  annularis (Pomacanthidae)
Cockerel Wrasse Pteragogus enneacanthus
           Cockerel Wrasse           Pteragogus   enneacanthus  (Labridae)

This cryptic species remains close to cover and inhabits semi-exposed rocky shores with clear water and some hard corals. The cockerel wrasse probably feeds on benthic invertebrates. Unlike many wrasses, both males and females have similar colouration, but males develop two "horns" in front of the dorsal fin. The wrasses (Labridae) are one of the most diverse families of local reef fish, more than 30 species have been recorded.


It feeds on the crustacean ectoparasites and mucus of fish at specific cleaning stations. To attract "customers", the cleaner wrasse moves up and down at its station during daytime.

Blue-streak Cleaner Wrasse
   Blue-streak Cleaner Wrasse   
 Labroides  dimidiatus 
Chinese Wrasse Halichoeres tenuispinis
                Chinese Wrasse                 Halichoeres   tenuispinis     (Labridae)  
Stellar Rock-hopper Entomacrodus stellifer lighti
        Stellar Rock-hopper      Enfomacrodus  stellifer  lighti (Blenniidae)

This inter-tidal blenny is extremely abundant along exposed rocky shores such as at the Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve. It occurs only at a few metres depth, hiding in crevices and empty barnacle shells when threatened.

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