Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis Click to enlarge image
A Comet from the Australian Museum Fish Collection. Image: Mark McGrouther
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    altivelis
    Genus
    Calloplesiops
    Family
    Plesiopidae
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 16 cm in length.

Introduction

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.

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.

Habitat

The species occurs on coral reefs.

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.



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.

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.