NOT ON EXHIBIT
At the Aquarium
How do you keep a coral reef exhibit clean? Our aquarists try to mimic relationships that exist in the wild, keeping everything in balance. Snails and hermit crabs are introduced to help scour exhibit surfaces. Tangs and surgeonfishes pick, tear and rasp away at the rocks to keep algae in check. There’s even a fish nicknamed the lawnmower blenny that scrapes away at brown algae film on the rocks. Some butterfly fish do their part by eating pest anemones, which can harm living corals. “All these animals have jobs to do,” says Curator Paul Clarkson, “consuming things we don’t want in the exhibit, and helping keep the coral healthy.”
Brilliantly colored pyramid butterflyfish gather in schools of thousands, near coral reef drop-offs. At night they lead a different life, changing color to help them hide in reef crevices.
As pyramid butterflyfish grow, their heads change from yellow to brown.
The pyramid butterflyfish lives in tropical coral reefs—a living oasis where spectacular sea life thrives. This beauty and bounty provides food and shelter for those who live nearby, including fishes.
While the bright colors of coral reefs are a sign that they’re healthy, warmer ocean waters are killing some corals, leaving only bleached-white skeletons. Corals build rocky skeletons from calcium and carbonate, chemicals found naturally in the ocean. But oceans are absorbing enormous amounts of carbon pollution, making them more acidic, which soaks up loose carbonate. Without that critical building block, it's much harder for corals to form a reef.
If we slow down ocean changes now, we can give the whole community a chance to survive.
Learn more about our “Hot Pink Flamingos” special exhibition.
This fished is named for the pyramid-shaped white patch on each side of its body.
During spawning, the pyramid butterflyfish releases eggs that float with the current until hatching.
There are over 100 species of butterflyfish worldwide.