Atlantic Trumpetfish – Aulostomus strigosus


The Atlantic Trumpetfish is a species in the family of Syngnathidae and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish. Sometimes its named incorrectly as Atlantic Cornetfish.

Description

Aulostomus strigosus has a very elongated body with a likewise long head. Noticeable is its tail fin, which reminds of a zebra because it is black and white striped. The body may have different colourations or patterns. The East Atlantic trumpet fish is able to change its colour and can even show patterns like vertical or horizontal stripes.

It reaches a maximum length of 75cm.

Habitat and Distribution

The Atlantic Trumpetfish lives over rocky ground. Above all in harsh conditions, it can be found in archways, canyons, under overhangs or in front of cave entrances. However, it generally prefers rocky reefs with hiding places and is to be found in depths down to 70m.

When diving in the Canaries, Aulostomus strigosus is often seen on La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. On the larger islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuertventura and Lanzarote, it occurs only in some dive sites.

Aulostomus strigosus distribution area extends from Madeira via the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Saint Helena, Ascension and along the African coast, all the way to Namibia.

Biology

Aulostomus strigosus mostly lives solitaire, but could also appear in pairs. One can also find small groups in certain places, but I would not say that they live together permanently, but only like the same location.

The Atlantic Trumpetfish feeds on crustaceans and small fish such as the Bogue.

Reproduction

The Atlantic Trumpetfish first performs a mating dance before the female hands his eggs to the male, so that it can fertilize them. Until the eggs hatch, the male is responsible for them. The ability of changing its colour plays a role at the mating dance too.

Hunting Behaviour

From my own observation I know two hunting techniques of the Atlantic Trumpetfish.

On the one hand, it follows other fish, like the Island Grouper, and hides behind it until the right time comes up. If it has spotted suitable prey the Atlantic Trumpetfish flashes lightning fast and snaps it.

On the other hand they hang vertically into the open water, with the snout down and then fall into swarms of smaller fishes, then likewise snap for the prey quickly.

One of Aulostomus strigosus enemies is the Common Octopus. During a night dive I could observe how an octopus wrapped around the Atlantic Trumpetfish.