[Coral-List] Why do fish swim upside down in caves?

Paul Sammarco psammarco at lumcon.edu
Thu Feb 4 10:25:31 EST 2016

Dear Charles,

Hello.  This is all a guessing game, but my suspicion is that the phenomenon may be a combination of two things.  Firstly, where is direct or reflected light coming from?  Which way is it light, and which way is it dark?  Also, perhaps it's also a matter of looking dorsally for predators.  They should certainly know which way is up and which way is down.  

Food for thought.  



Paul W. Sammarco, Ph.D.
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)
8124 Hwy. 56
Chauvin, LA  70344-2110

1-985-851-2876 (tel)
1-985-851-2874 (FAX)
1-985-232-6575 (Cell)
psammarco at lumcon.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Charles Delbeek
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 3:22 PM
To: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Why do fish swim upside down in caves?

Our exhibit design consultant asked me this question concerning Cephalopholis polleni.

My thoughts were that since these fish are bottom oriented they feel more secure with something on their ventral surface, I also believe they can see more what is ahead and below them where most predators come from for bottom oriented fish?? Also when a fish swims into a cave or overhang they are swimming down a reef face and coming across the opening so it is safer to remain oriented to the rock face then twisting and turning as they enter to cave/crevice. Also the shelter holes are in the ceiling so it is easier to dart into them when it is below them then above their line of sight, but I am just guessing on these.

Anyone have something more definitive on this?

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,

*J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc. *Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium California Academy of Sciences

Desk: 415.379.5303
Fax: 415.379.5304

*cdelbeek at calacademy.org <cdelbeek at calacademy.org> *www.calacademy.org

55 Music Concourse Dr.

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco CA 94118

Discover nature’s secret language in *Color of Life*, a dazzling new exhibit—now open.
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