Bulletin 17 - July 1982:
Fish of the UAE

Fish of the UAE

by Roger Brown

This article deals with two spectacular fish which are rare in the Gulf but more common off the Fujeirah coast. Both fish inhabit coral reef areas of medium depth, 10 -15 metres.

Chaetodon vagabundus

Commonly known as the Vagabond Butterfly Fish, 'mushat' in Arabic, this fish is usually seen in pairs searching the coral reef for food. It uses its pointed mouth to suck out coral polyps and other small marine creatures.

Description: Whitish body background with two vertical black bands, one through the eye and one to the rear. Rear of dorsal and anal fins and the tail are yellow with black fingers. Faint black diagonal markings also appear on the body. Up to 20 cms. in length.

Habitat: Usually inhabits a rocky or coral cave of suitable size, but always in the vicinity of a coral reef. Generally a timid fish that doesn't make for easy photography.

Location: Common in the Eastern Region around Khor Fakkan and Dibba but rarely seen around Abu Dhabi.


Pomocanthodes imperator

Commonly know as the Emperor Angel Fish, 'Anfuz' in Arabic, this fish is generally a loner, but may occasionally be observed in pairs. It has most striking body markings and is often seen in prize aquaria collections.

Description: Yellow body background with numerous horizontal blue lines. Dorsal rays and tail are yellow and the anal rays bluish. Mouth and cheeks are white. A black marking passes through the eye to the underside. The mouth is large with strong teeth. Markings of juvenile fish are quite different, so much so that in the early days of scientific marine identification adults and juveniles were thought to be separate species. The juvenile is a uniform blue with whitish circular markings and a pale blue tail.

Habitat: This fish is seen either patrolling its own coral patch or guarding the entrance to its own cave. Like C. vagabundus it is normally found in the vicinity of a good coral reef. It feeds by scraping off tiny marine creatures attached to coral surfaces.

Location: Not very common in the Eastern Region, but apparently more abundant than in the Gulf, where there has been only one known sighting.


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