Aulostomus chinensis is a species belonging to the order Syngnathiformes and the family Aulostomidae. It is known as the chinese trumpetfish, and inhabits the shallow, pristine and crystalline waters of the tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific.
The body of Aulostomus chinensis is very elongated and somewhat compressed laterally. It can reach 80 cm in length, although the normal is to see specimens of 40-45 cm in length. The mouth is located at the end of an elongated and tubular muzzle, in which a unique chin is located in the lower jaw. The dorsal fin is divided into two regions, a first one formed by between 8 and 11 spines isolated between them and that is rarely visible since it is always collected. The second region of the dorsal fin, formed by 24-27 soft rays, is located in the same vertical as the anal fin. The anal fin on the other hand is formed by 26-29 soft rays. The pelvic fins are small, and the abdominal fins are formed by 6 soft rays. It has a continuous lateral line from the top of the operculum to the base of the tail fin. The color of Aulostomus chinensis is very variable. Generally it is brown with irregular vertical stripes of light colors, although there are also very striking specimens with the body entirely yellow. In the area of the mouth, they present a small black spot, associated to the area of the jaws. The dorsal and anal fins are light-colored with a dark basal band. The caudal fin is rounded and generally presents 2 dark circles. At the base of the pelvic fins may also have a dark colored spot.
It is very common to find specimens of Aulostomus chinensis in a vertical position, with the head facing the sea bottom. Very often we can observe them around gorgonians. With this posture, they manage to pass themselves off as one more branch of the gorgonia that they surround, or at least they go unnoticed among the verticality of the gorgonia itself. They have the capacity to modify their body coloring to be able to pass unnoticed according to the surroundings in which they are. It is also frequently observed in the center of shoals of other fish.
The snout of Aulostomus chinensis together with its slender shape can already give us clues about its feeding. By means of very fast movements they are able to capture their prey among which we find small fish and crustaceans.Photos: