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Reef Fish Identification Guide - 20 Common Species of Florida and the Caribbean


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Yellow Goatfish and Yellowtail Snapper
Photo of yellow Caribbean reef fish.

Yellow Goatfish Mulloidichthys martinicus, main photo)and Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus, lower left) have similar colorations and may school together.

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Many divers confuse Yellow Goatfish (Mulloidichthys martinicus) and Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) because of their similar coloration and the fact that they may school together in large groups on shallow reefs.

Goatfish, including the Yellow Goatfish, have whiskers or barbels underneath their chins. These are fleshy appendages which they use to hunt for food hidden in the sand. In addition to the Yellow Goatfish, divers may also see Spotted Goatfish (Psuedoupeneus maculatus) which has similar barbels and is either white with three dark spots across its sides or a marbled pinkish/red color.

Yellowtail Snapper, like Yellow Goatfish, may also be seen hovering in schools over the reef. They sometimes form mixed schools with the Yellow Goatfish. While similar in appearance to the Yellow Gaotfish, Yellowtail Snapper do not have the barbels characteristic of goatfish.

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