Binomial name: Aulostomus maculatus, Achille Valenciennes, 1841
The trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, is a long-bodied fish with an upturned mouth; it often swims vertically while trying to blend with vertical coral, such as sea rods, sea pens, and pipe sponges.
It is widespread throughout the tropical waters of western Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Brazil including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
Trumpetfish occur in waters between 0.5 and 30 meters (1.6 and 100 feet) deep, and can grow to 40 to 80 cm (15 to 31 in) in length. They are sometimes locally abundant over coral atoll reefs or in lagoons, where they may be caught even in areas of severe wave action. The spawning habits of the trumpetfish are unknown, but in the region around Madeira, the females are known to have mature eggs from March to June.
Trumpetfish are closely related to cornetfish. Trumpetfish can be a bit more than 36 inches (3 ft) long and have greatly elongated bodies with small jaws at the front end of their long, tubular snouts. The gills are pectinate, resembling the teeth of a comb, and a soft dorsal fin is found near the tail fin. A series of spines occurs in front of the dorsal fin. Trumpetfish vary in color from dark brown to greenish, but also yellow in some areas. A black streak, sometimes reduced to a dark spot, occurs along the jaw, and a pair of dark spots is sometimes found on the base of the tail fin.
Trumpetfish swim slowly, sneaking up on unsuspecting prey, or lying motionless like a floating stick, swaying back and forth with the wave action of the water. They are adept at camouflaging themselves and often swim in alignment with other, larger fishes. They feed almost exclusively on small fish, such as wrasses and Atheriniformes, by sucking them suddenly into their small mouths.
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- Aulostomus maculatus