golden phase in fish

Christy Pattengill pattengill at
Tue Oct 14 17:19:33 EDT 1997

For the past four years I have been studying the coral reef fishes of the East and
West Flower Garden Banks and Stetson Bank in the northwest Gulf of Mexico, USA. 
These are relatively small reefs (high diversity zones are 0.95 sqr km, 0.36 sqr
km and 0.004 sqr km, respectively) and they are fairly isolated from other tropical
reef areas (the closest being 700 km to the South - Cabo Rojo, Mexico). Fish diversity
is considerably less than in other areas of the tropical western Atlantic but we
have documented at least 170 reef fish species from the three banks.

When I began my study we noticed a few smooth trunkfish, Lactophyrs triqueter, that
were bright gold in coloration.  The overall markings are the same.  There appears
to be no correlation to behavior, sexual identity, or maturation.  The color appears
permanent.  Often we will see the golden phase swimming with a normal color phase,
but just as frequent the golden morph is observed by itself. I estimate that about
15% of the L. triqueter we see are golden. 

We collected a specimen and it keys out as L. triqueter.  I am wondering if anyone
out there has insight into this phenomenon?  In addition, if anyone has seen this
coloration in L. triqueter elsewhere, please let me know.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Christy Pattengill
Texas A&M University/Dept. of Biology
College Station, TX 77843-3258
Pattengill at

Free web-based email, Forever, From anywhere!

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list