Odd Shaped Swimmers

 
 
Orangespotted Filefish
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Orangespotted Filefish (Cantherhines pullus)

The orangespotted filefish has narrow broken yellowish stripes that run along the side of the body to the tail. They can change to solid brown or darken and or pale in color. Usually found near the bottom and often hide in corals sponges or gorgonians.

 
Whitespotted Filefish
Photo by Susanna Pershern

Filefish
Whitespotted Filefish (Cantherhines macrocerus)

The whitespotted filefish typically has a brown or olive colored body with lighter spots. They rapidly change color patterns as camouflage.

 
Fringed Filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus)
Photo by Adam Glahn

Fringed Filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus) Juvenile

The fringed filefish is a flattened fish with a keeled body and a dewlap on the underside. They can be seen in sandy or rubble bottoms with seagrass or algae. They are not easily frightened when being approached. This one shown is in its green juvenile phase.

 
Scrawled Filefish (Aluterus scriptus)
Photo by Naomi Blinick

Scrawled Filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

The scrawled filefish has an elongated oval body with olive-brown to grey body depending on its surroundings and irregular blue lines and spots. Juveniles are yellow with black spots.

 
Unicorn Filefish Judy Buchholz 300x198
Photo by Judy Buchholz

Unicorn Filefish (Aluterus monoceros)

This rare filefish is gray to brown in color with dark reticulated pattern and pale and dark spots. The adults can be grayish silver without markings. It is usually found in open water but may be seen over reefs or in shallow water where they come to be cleaned.
 
Gray Triggerfish Caroline Rogers 300x200
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Triggerfish
Gray Triggerfish (Balistes capriscus)

The gray triggerfish is gray to olive-gray or yellowish brown and has distinguishing blue spots and lines on upper body and fins. They may have white dots and lines on the lower body and fins as well. They can be found drifting just above the bottom alone or sometimes in groups. Juveniles can be seen drifting in Sargassum. This triggerfish was seen at Francis Bay.

 
Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula)
NPS Photo

Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula)

The distinct queen triggerfish has two blue stripes on the face with small lines radiating from the eyes and extended rear dorsal and tail fins. They can been seen swimming over tops of reefs, coral rubble and seagrass. They are fond of sea urchins.

 
Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Photo by Dave Bryan

Frogfish & Scorpionfish

Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Lionfish are found in recesses of rock and coral areas. It is usually alone and if threatened raises its fins and spines in protection. They are invasive here and have venomous spines and fins so do not approach. Report any sightings to The CORE Foundation.

 
Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

This master of camouflage is easy to miss as they blend into the background while laying motionless as you swim by. It is a mottled brown color with three dark bars on the tail.
 
Sargassumfish (Histrio histrio)
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Sargassumfish (Histrio histrio)

The sargassumfish inhabits floating rafts of Sargassum and Virgin Islands National Monument mangrove roots. It can be brown, olive, or yellow.
 
Spotted Trunkfish
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Box Type Fish
Spotted Trunkfish (Latorphrys bicaudalis)

The spotted trunkfish has a light colored body which is covered with black spots and white around the mouth. They swim above reefs sand and seagrass. They are not shy and sometimes appear to pose for the camera.
 
Buffalo Trunkfish
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Trunkfish (Latorphrys trigonus)

The trunkfish has a hump on its back and two sharp spines in front of the anal fin. The coloring varies from brown, green, blue or gray with white spots on the back and base of tail. They may be seen swimming in seagrass or in and about reefs.
 
Juvenile Spotted Trunkfish
Photo by Ginny Westricks

Juvenile Trunkfish (Latorphrys trigonus)

About the size of a marble, the juvenile trunkfish has a greenish body with dark spots circled in white. They may be seen swimming in seagrass or in and about reefs.
 
Smooth Trunkfish (Latorphrys triqueter)
Photo by Naomi Blinick

Smooth Trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

The smooth trunkfish has a dark body which is covered with white spots and honeycomb markings on its sides. They are easily confused with the Spotted trunkfish which has opposite coloring. They are not shy and may approach swimmers and divers while swimming above reefs, sand, or seagrass.
 
Smooth Trunkfish (Latorphrys triqueter)
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

The juveniles have bright yellow spots which change to white as the fish matures. At this stage, they are about the size and shape of a marble.
 

Puffers and Porcupinefishes

 
Porcupinefish  (Diodon hystrix)

Porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix)

Porcupinefish have olive or brownish bodies which fade to a white belly. They can pale or darken in color. Porcupinefish can be seen hiding in or near caves and reef edges. The are wary making them difficult for the novice photographer to capture a photo.

 
Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)

The balloonfish has long spines on it's head, small dark spots on it's body and is olive to brown in color. It is easily recognized by eyes which have iridescent blue-green specked pupils and yellow irises. They can be found in seagrass, mangrove roots, and reefs. They are shy and blend into to the background making them easy to miss.
 
Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)
Photo by Adam Glahn

Trunpetfish
Atlantic Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

The trumpetfish has a long thin body with trumpet like mouth. Colors can be yellow, brown, or purplish. They are usually seen drifting vertically in or around seafans, gorgonians or even dock lines.

 
Harlequin Pipefish Adam Glahn 300x222
Photo by Adam Glahn

Harlequin Pipefish (Halicampus ensenadae)

This very rare pipefish has a trumpet like snout,small mouth with a long snake like body, and alternating bands of yellow and brown.

 
Bluespotted Cornetfish (Fistularia tabacaria)
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Bluespotted Cornetfish (Fistularia tabacaria)

This long thin fish with a slender filament type tail is uncommon here. It can grow to about 5 feet long, has a brownish or greenish body with blue dashes and spots. The mouth and snout are shaped like a cornet, hence the name. If one is very lucky they might spot this fish in seagrass or patch reefs.
 
Spotted Drum (Epuetus punctatus) Adult
Photo by Dave Bryan

Spotted Drum (Equetus punctatus) Adult

The adult spotted drum have Black rear and tail fins with white spots. They may be found in secluded reef areas under ledges and near small caves.
 
Spotted Drum (Equetus punctatus)
Photo by Caroline Rogers

Spotted Drum (Equetus punctatus) Juvenile

The juvenile spotted drum has black and white stripes on head and body and a very long dorsal fin. The juveniles can be difficult to spot as they are only ¾ - 1 ½ inches in size. As they mature, the rear dorsal and tail fins turn black with white spots making them very distinctive.
 
Highhat (Pareques acuminatus)

Highhat (Pareques acuminatus)

The juvenile highhat looks very similar to the juvenile spotted drum having similar black and white stripes. The highhat has a black curving band around the foredorsal fin. As they mature they develop black and white stripes on the body and have a slightly elongated front dorsal fin.

Last updated: March 21, 2017

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St. John, VI 00830

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