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Coral reef fish

Fish abound on a coral reef in the shallow waters fringing the coast of a tropical island. Coral reefs are found in the warm, clear, shallow waters around volcanic islands or rocky coastlines of tropical seas. The reefs teem with wildlife, including many species of brightly coloured fish. Many of the smaller kinds feed on tiny plants called algae inside the coral. The coral itself is consumed by some fish. Predators, such as sharks, rays and barracudas, prey on coral reef fish. Most fish that live on coral reefs have sharp, bony spines, called "rays", in their fins, which provide defence from these predators. In some species of these ray-finned fish, the spines are venomous.

Coral reef wildlife
Japanese pygmy angelfish, Japan and Hawaii, 15 cm (6 in) long


Angelfish have very narrow bodies, so that when viewed from the front, they seem almost to disappear. There are many different kinds of angelfish, and they often have striking patterns and beautiful, bright colours. Angelfish make sure that they are always near a clump of seaweed or rocks. If threatened by predators, they will quickly dart into this shelter.

The bright colours and distinctive patterns of many reef fish are thought to help them recognize their own species among the throng of wildlife on the reef.

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