The world’s smallest fish “saves” coral reefs TANMag Oceanography


The smallest vertebrate aquatic species – cryptobenthic fish – though less than 2cm long but plays the most important role in the coral region’s ecosystem.

That is the latest discovery of scientists, in contrast to what genius biologist Darwin predicted.

The coral is a shelter of the highest number of animals in the ocean, including parachute, fish, shrimp … In it, half cannot be seen with the naked eye.

According to Popular Science , in 1842, Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory , studied the coral ecosystems that often caught a flash of blue light flashing around the area.

Darwin thinks that this light trail is plankton and they are the basic foundation in the food net in the coral ecosystem.

For more than a century, many scientific groups have studied this mysterious light. Finally, a research team said the secret lies in small fish cryptobenthic.

The word “crypto” in the name is derived from the Greek meaning of hiding, describing their way of “hiding and hiding” .

Cryptobenthic hides very quickly and is very small. According to Science magazine, they are the smallest vertebrate aquatic species on Earth when weighed less than 0.1g, less than 2cm long.

Dr. Simon Brandl – Simon Fraser University (Canada) – has spent most of his career studying this fish.

Brandl’s group thinks that it is cryptobenthic and not an ephemera species, as Darwin says, the most important factor that helps maintain the ecosystem of the coral region.

According to Brandl, the current cryptobenthic has about 3,000 species, of which only about 1,000 “brothers” have been recorded.

In terms of quantity, the group determined on an area of ​​about one square meter, the number of live cryptobenthic fish can be up to 100. This is the ” largest” group in a coral ecosystem .

In a year, this fish can produce up to 7 generations. The number of cryptobenthic fish is reproduced after each birth is equal to the amount lost.

Even during the 10km length of a coral reef that the team studied in Australian waters, 70% of the recorded fry is cryptobenthic.

The largest number, cryptobenthic fish is also the most important source of nutrition for corals and animals in the ecosystem.

The cryptobenthic fish team contributed up to 60% of the fish-derived coral feed, giving the coral enough nutrients to live on the ocean floor.

In particular, while many species are affected by climate change, cryptobenthic retains its ” reproductive ” form, and still provides regular food for the coral ecosystem.

Nick Graham – a coral environmentalist from Lancaster University (UK) – commented that the study is an important contribution, clearly telling us what is the foundation for each coral reef. “Obviously, not plankton like Darwin predicted,” Graham said.

Meanwhile, Douglas McCauley – an environmentalist at the University of California (USA) – said it is very likely that this fish also contributes greatly to other marine environments not only corals.

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