10 Black And White Fish To Know About


Black and white fish have always grabbed my attention when snorkeling or watching marine life television series. Even though colorful corals or a neon fish light show can be amazing, I want to dedicate this article to only black and white fish species.

Why The Black And White Colors?

Nature always finds it’s way to stay away from predators. Besides hiding or staying in large groups, their colors can make a big difference too.

A lot of fish have a typical appearance with their pointy face and triangular tail. Unfortunately this reveals their species and their location, ringing the “alarm bells” of hungry predators.

Black and white stripes play a big role in staying “undercover”. They disrupt the typical fish shape, especially in shady areas. The ocean is filled with stripes, may it be plants or rocks, which means these fish are much safer in their “camouflage jackets”.

Not only stripes, but also dots and other kinds of combinations can be found amongst some marine life. In this article I name a few interesting and famous examples. If you’re like me and you like to snorkel with a GoPro, who knows you’ll identify just one of them sooner or later.

1. Black And White Moorish Idol

Even though the picture below shows you a black and white moorish idol with a yellow tail, there are a few that almost show no yellow at all. However, they are rare.

For those of you who watched Finding Nemo, maybe you remember Gill. Gill is a Moorish Idol with it’s typical prominent upper fin.

Since their favorite meal is algae, they often hang out around reefs and corals. They are a common species within the Indo-Pacific oceans.

list of black and white fish


2. Black And White Clownfish

Within the Indo-Pacific region we previously mentioned, you will also find the black and white clownfish. Most of us will probably know the orange version, but they exist in multiple colors. Across 28 variations you can also find them in yellow or maroon for example.

Black clownfish can be pretty aggressive. They defend their territory and even other clownfish are not allowed to come close. They eat algae and small worms.

Most of them will have more black than white, but you might see one when snorkeling that is more white than black. Don’t disturb them too much as they could bite your hand for example. Even though we never advise to bring any snorkel fish food, you definitely don’t want to feed these fish.

black and white clownfish


3. Black And White Damsel Fish

Another species to be found within the Indo-Pacific oceans is the damsel fish. This particular black and white fish, also known as whitetail dascyllus, is a big fan of the Red Sea.

They usually don’t grow that big, 2-3 inches is normal, with maybe a few larger exceptions reaching 4 inches.

You can spot them by their 3 thick black stripes running vertically across their body. Their tail is white and they love to stay close to the corals.

damsel fish


4. Banded Butterflyfish

These fish can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean. One of the black stripes runs over their eyes, which adds to their antipredator appearance.

They can grow up to about 6 inches in length. Even though they sometimes swim in groups, it’s not uncommon for them to swim alone or with a buddy.

They eat invertebrates, coral polyps, worms and eggs. Sometimes they function as a parasite remover for other fish species, like surgeon fish for example.

banded butterflyfish


5. Spotted Drum

The Spotted Drum, also known as spotted ribbonfish, are camouflaged with both dots and stripes. They often prefer deeper water but you could come across a few when it’s your lucky snorkel day.

They live in the occidental Atlantic Ocean, usually sheltered by rocks or any other hiding place. At night they leave their hiding place in order to find some food, like worms or crustaceans.

Their size can vary, but usually adults grow about 7-10 inches in length. Even though they don’t show themselves that much, one of your best chances to spot one could be in Key Largo, Florida.

spotted drum


6. Scissortail Sergeant

The Scissortail Sergeant, also known as Abudefduf Sexfasciatus, is a large damselfish. They live in the Indo-Pacific oceans and prefer to stay close to corals.

They’re a little bigger than the typical damsel fish we talked about before. Often they grow over 6 inches in length. The biggest difference is their scissor shaped tail, which includes the black stripes as well.

They lay their eggs on solid surfaces and protect them continuously. Their favorite meal includes plankton, algae, crustaceans and tiny fish.

Scissortail Sergeant


7. Black and White Spotted Guinea Puffer Fish

Compared to the above, this fish is mostly black with a whole lot of white dots. They usually exceed 20 inches in length and prefer the Indo-Pacific waters as their habitat.

One of the most interesting facts about these fish is their ability to suddenly increase their size. Since they’re not the fastest swimmer they seem like an easy prey. Once threatened they swallow a whole lot of water, which makes their body a couple of times bigger in just a few seconds.

Even though this sounds very interesting, the spotted guinea puffer fish carries a deadly poison. It doesn’t inject it, it just carries it. This means, never ever eat one or you’ll probably die.



8. Cyphotilapia Frontosa

Also known as front cichlid, this fish lives in the eastern parts of Africa. Like the picture below already reveals, it has a pretty large forehead. Even though this varies amongst this species.

They usually grow 13 inches in length. Most of them have somewhere between 5 and 7 vertical thick black stripes covering their white body. However, you can come across some that have a blue body.

The appearing forehead is often bigger in males than in females. They can reach ages of around 25 years. Even though they live deep underwater, in the early morning hours they rise to the surface for breakfast.

Cyphotilapia Frontosa


9. Convict Surgeonfish

The Convict Surgeonfish, also known as Acanthurus Triostegus, live within the Indo-Pacific waters. They can be found in different oceans as well, like the Hawaiian islands for example. If you’re planning to snorkel in Maui, who knows they’ll say hello. If you want to learn more, check out this Wikipedia page.

Most of them grow about 4 inches in length, however you could find them twice that size from time to time. They’re capable to eat a whole lot of algae, especially green hair algae.

It’s not uncommon to find big schools of them hanging out together. They are represented in large numbers since they can easily adapt to different conditions.

Convict Surgeonfish


10. Scorpion Fish

Also known as Pterois Volitans, the scorpion fish is represented in a variety of colors. Often they carry red, orange or creamy colors, however they also exist in the black and white combination. That’s why some like to call them zebrafish.

Be careful with this fish species. They carry a venom that can be injected through their spikes. If they sting you, expect abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. But the symptoms could be much worse than that. More information can be found in this article.

They can be found in the Indo-Pacific oceans and a few other tropical locations. On average they grow up to 15 inches. They prefer to stay close to the reefs and hunt for small fish to eat.

Scorpion fish


Our Summary Video of this article:

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of black and white fish worldwide. Even though some of them prefer the ocean bottom or even a rock to hide behind, who knows you’ll ever come across one. And hopefully, by that time, you can already tell it’s name.

There are more than 10 different fish species that come in this color combination. I wanted to list the ones that could be worth to know more about. Do your own research and who knows what you’ll discover.

Besides snorkeling I always enjoy to learn more about fish and corals. That’s why I dedicated this article to this specific group or marine life. Fish can be spectacular to look at, but having a little background information is always a good think. If you feel like it, feel free to read my guide about yellowtail fish as well. Another list I recently created covers 10 blue and yellow fish.

For anyone who’s simply fascinated by fish, there’s actually a lot to learn. Our article that covers the most interesting facts about fish should keep you entertained for quite a bit.

Black And White Fish Clipart

If you just can’t get enough, here are a few clipart examples to maybe check out. I would advise you to do a simple Google search as well. There are hundreds, if not thousands of examples to take a look at.

As clipart is getting extremely popular, who knows I can already help you out. People use them for online profiles, clothing or even electronic devices. Whatever the reason, I hope this helps.

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