Like some nuclear meltdown horror show, a flash of the protruding blue-colored tusks of the harlequin tuskfish may give the impression of evil, but these psychedelic fish are ferocious only in appearance. Even the name, Harlequin, comes from a mischievous devil character in commedia dell’arte theater – though the fish’s name is likely derived not from its moral character, but from its garish, multicolored stripes channeling Harlequin’s checkered costume. Juveniles are relatively dull in appearance, but they grow more beautiful with age, with orange and blue stripes and white margins, with their coloration depending on regional differences.
The harlequin tuskfish don’t bury under the sand at night like other wrasses. They have eyes that move independently of each other, so predators need some serious ninja skills if they dare try to snag one. The harlequin tuskfish grow up to 30 cm and are found mostly along coral reefs in tropical and subtropical waters of the western Pacific region, from Taiwan to western Australia and New Caledonia.
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