Animal Species:Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis (Steindachner, 1903)

The Comet occurs on coral reefs throughout the Indo-west Pacific. When alarmed, the it will dart head first into the coral and leave the posterior part of the body exposed. In this position the fish looks like the head of a Whitemouth Moray Eel, Gymnothorax meleagris.

A Comet from the Australian Museum Fish Collection

Mark McGrouther © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Comet

Identification

The Comet is easily recognised by its dark colour with numerous white spots, the ocellus (glossary) at the base of the last dorsal rays and the lanceolate tail.

Size range

The species grows to 16 cm in length.

Distribution

The Comet occurs throughout the Indo-west Pacific. In Australia it is recorded from north-western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Calloplesiops altivelis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Comet specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The species occurs on coral reefs.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Comet is a secretive fish which is not often observed during the day. When alarmed, it will dart head first into the coral and leave the posterior part of the body exposed. In this position the fish looks like the head of a Whitemouth Moray Eel, Gymnothorax meleagris, with the ocellus mimicking the eye and the gap between the caudal and anal fins resembling the mouth.

Classification

Species:
altivelis
Genus:
Calloplesiops
Family:
Plesiopidae
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. & H. Debelius. 1994. south-east Asia Tropical Fish Guide. IKAN-Unterwasserachiv. Pp. 321.
  4. Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes. Volume 1. A Guide to Their Identification, Behaviour, and Captive Care. Microcosm. Pp. 624.
  5. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.


Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis, coral reef, dark colour, white spots, dots/spots, 10 cm - 30 cm, Great Barrier Reef, tropical water, marine,