Fish ID, 2 photos from my trip on Molasses Reef in Key Largo


I have no idea what any of these fish are. Please help. I am new to this sport and during my referral dives have totally fallen in love with the fish life down there.

Fish ID help

The tang is a blue tang (they are actually yellow when they are young). The yellow fish are initial phase bluehead wrasse (they are cleaner fish). Swimming away from you in the front is a yellowtail damselfish, and in the back to the right is a smooth trunkfish.

On the second image are two creole wrasse. The larger one below is a terminal phase male and the one on top is an initial phase female.

are you sure about the two

are you sure about the two fish on the bottom being creole wrasse? I thought most wrasses were only a few inches long? Both of these fish were well over a foot in length.

Yes, these are creole

Yes, these are creole wrasse.  They get up to about a foot in length, but usually they're smaller than that.  A puddingwife, another type of wrasse, can get even larger (about 18 inches).  You're right that most warsses are on the smaller side.

Thank you for your help. I

Thank you for your help. I was starting to go nutty not being able to find the darn things in the book I have. Going to be investing in a better one on my next trip to the Keys in May.

Yes DiverDave is correct -

Yes DiverDave is correct - the two fish in the forefront are Creole Wrasse.

As a new diver I always carried my "Reef Fish" book with me whereever we traveled.  An investment of $39.95 is well worh the money spent.  In 1989, I paid $35.99, so the cost has only gone up $4.00 in 20 years  If you truly are seriouly interested in knowing the names of the fish, buy the book.  You will not regret a penny of the cost!  Pewing

Thank you for your help. It

Thank you for your help. It was driving me nuts. I am planning on buying the FishID book on my next trip down to the Keys. I am hoping to go sometime in May.

Fish ID goodies


Reef fish identification by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach is indeed the bible for fish ID in the Western Atlantic and you can buy it right here on the REEF website. Just go the store link on top and select survey materials and books.

A very good addition is the Reef fish identification DVD. Initially created by the Wilk family's ReefNet company, their interactive DVD is now partnered with the same publisher that releases the Humann/Deloach book (I hope I got that right). Anyway, it has many great images including many species not in the book. In addition, many species have multiple images to show the variable colors of many reef fishes. Finally, my favorite, for many species they have short videos showing the way they move around. Again, this can be purchased on the REEF website.

Finally, there are some free web resources. Reefnet has a Fish ID quiz to help you train yourself. has almost 1000 images of about 250 Caribbean species and allows you to carry out several searches as well as its own quiz.

My advise, get the book! Once you get better, or you are becoming addicted to fish watching, consider the DVD for your next Xmas present :)


More tips

I thought I'd post a couple more tips for learning your fish.

If you can, attend a REEF Field Survey trip. I can't tell you how much I learned the first time I went. I had enough fun, that I've been on 2 more REEF trips since. (And no, I don't work for REEF... I'm just a happy member.)

If you can't go on a REEF trip, get a hold of the Reef Fish In-A-Pocket waterproof booklet. (If you are going on a REEF trip, I'm pretty sure you'll get this in your kit.) Here's a link to the booklet I'm talking about: Bring it with you on your dives (just make sure to rinse it afterward or the salt will glue the pages together as it dries). When I learned, my instructor advised us to rubber-band it to our survey slates along the binding of the middle page so we could flip thru it underwater without losing it. I felt silly spending dive time flipping thru a book, but after a while I learned where the fish were in the book so I could find them faster, and a little while after that I didn't need the book anymore because I remembered the fish!

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