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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Sea-riously Cool Kelpfish Facts For Kids

Kelpfish are endemic to the waters of New Zealand and Australia.

Kelpfish is a group of fishes that belong to the genus Chironemus. There are six recognized subspecies of Kelpfish, but there is also the Giant Kelpfish, belonging to and being the only member of the genus Heterostichus. Giant Kelpfish also belong to a different family, Clinidae, and are found in different waters, particularly the coasts of North America, from the American California to the Mexican Southern Baja California. Whereas the Kelpfish of the east are endemic to the waters of New Zealand and Australia, particularly the East and North Capes of Southern Australia, to the North Island in New Zealand. All Kelpfish favor shallow, marine water habitats, mainly a kelp forest, or rocky areas, and reefs. Kelpfishes are known to change colors to adapt to their surroundings, they do this to hunt their prey, which is other small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, or to avoid becoming prey to bigger fish. Kelpfish do not grow very big, only about 8-16 in (20-40cm), but Giant Kelpfish are known to grow up to 31 ft (80 cm) in length. The large Kelpfish species (Chironemus marmoratus), is called 'hiwihiwi' in New Zealand.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects including the milkfish or the needlefish here.

Kelpfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Kelpfish?

Kelpfish is a vertebrate animal that lives in marine waters

What class of animal does a Kelpfish belong to?

The Kelpfish species belongs to the fish (Actinopterygii, ray-finned fish) class of animals.

How many Kelpfish are there in the world?

The number of Kelpfish in the world is uncertain.

Where does a Kelpfish live?

A Kelpfish typically lives in the ocean.

What is a Kelpfish's habitat?

A Kelpfish may live in weedy areas, in kelp forests, or close to the reef. It is a shallow-water, marine fish found only as deep as 65-100 ft (20-30 m). It favors waters of high waves and currents. It is found close to the coasts of Australia and New Zealand in the East, and Giant Kelpfish are found in the west on North American coasts of California, and Southern Baja California.

Who do Kelpfish live with?

Kelp-fish may live alone or in 'schools'.

How long does a Kelpfish live?

A Kelp-fish may live around 4-5 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Kelp-fish species reproduce by spawning and laying eggs. The sperm is released into the water column by the males, which is picked up by the females. The eggs are released into the water column and hatch after a couple of weeks. The Kelpfish eggs are guarded by the males. Juveniles tend to live alone after developing coloration. During its lifetime, a female may up to 700 eggs.

What is their conservation status?

The overall Conservation Status of Kelpfish is 'Least Concern'.

Kelpfish Fun Facts

What do Kelpfish look like?

A large Kelpfish, called 'hiwihiwi' in New Zealand is typically 10-16 in (25-40 cm) long.

Different species of Kelpfish have different appearances. They are known to be colored cryptically, meaning they can change their coloration. This is done to hide among the weeds, the kelp, and the reefs, from prey and predators alike. They are known to change colors according to different surroundings, but their most usual colors are green, brown, or red. The bodies of kelpfish appear elongated, also compressed. Their length range anywhere between 8-16 in (20-40cm). They have anal, caudal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins. The number of spines and rays on each fin is different. Their eyes are medium-sized and have bands radiating from them. Brown and grayish kelpfish are known to become paler, possess mottled, brown or dark patterns, and black saddles. Their gill covers may also have silver spots on the rear, upper tips. The mouths of Kelpfish are small and their snouts are pointed. They may also have white spots all over and may change colors to pinkish as well.

How cute are they?

Kelp-fishes are very cute animals. Their skin color ever-changes to avoid detection, which is quite a sight when observed live. They have beautiful spotted, mottled bodies, and their fins and rays are highly decorative.

How do they communicate?

Kelpfish can communicate through motion and gestures.

How big is a Kelpfish?

A Kelpfish may be as big as 8-16 in (20-40cm) in length, which makes it four times bigger than the Dwarf Minnow fish.

How fast can a Kelpfish swim?

A Kelpfish may swim as fast as about 25-30 mph (40-50 kph).

How much does a Kelpfish weigh?

A Kelpfish may weigh anywhere between 0.5- 1 lb (0.23-0.46 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The males and females of the Kelpfish species do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby Kelpfish?

A baby Kelpfish may be called plankton, juvenile, or fry during different stages of its life before becoming an adult Kelpfish

What do they eat?

Kelpfish are known to eat invertebrates, smaller fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

No, Kelpfish is not dangerous. They adorn many aquaria around the world.

Would they make a good pet?

They may not make good home pets, since they prefer to inhabit reefs and kelp which tend to be big. Providing them with a proper habitat may be challenging.

Did you know...

The Kelpfish name comes from its genus, Chironemus, which in turn comes from the Greek words 'cheir' and 'nema' which mean 'hands' and 'thread' respectively.

A green Kelpfish may only appear green in the presence of green surf grass, while a yellow kelpfish may only appear yellow in the midst of yellow kelp.

Sebastiscus marmoratus is a species of rockfish that is known as the false kelpfish.

The Striped Kelpfish range is also most prominent in North America, off the Canadian province of British Columbia. It stretches from British Columbia to the more southern territory of Baja California in Mexico. Striped Kelpfish are known to grow up to 9.4 in (24 cm).

Another Clinid Kelpfish found in Pacific water in the same range is the Spotted Kelpfish. Spotted Kelpfish grows up to 16 cm and is found in waters as deep as 184 ft (56 m).

The Island Kelpfish is also known by its scientific name, Alloclinus holderi. The Island Kelpfish inhabits the same waters as the other western Kelp-fishes. The Island Kelpfish favors a rocky habitat up to 161 ft (49 m) deep.

Crevice kelpfish is also found in the Pacific waters along the coasts ranging from British Columbia to Baja California. The Crevice Kelpfish grows to maximum lengths of 4.3 in (11 cm).

The dorsal fin of a Kelpfish has 33 to 38 spines. The dorsal fin may also have 11 to 13 rays.

A Kelpfish makes a good, novel, aquarium fish due to its changing colors.

Types of Kelpfish

The different recognized species of Kelp-fish are the Chironemus bicornis, Chironemus delfini, Tasselled Kelpfish (Chironemus georgianus), Silver Spot Kelpfish (Chironemus maculosus), Large Kelpfish (Chironemus marmoratus), Smallscale Kelpfish (Chironemus microlepis).

Also, from the Clinidae family are the fishes, the Giant Kelpfish, the Spotted Kelpfish, the Crevice Kelpfish, the Island Kelpfish, and the Striped Kelpfish.

Kelpfishes are called Kelpfish because they live close to the 'kelps', which are giant seaweed algae plants. Such habitat is collectively called a kelp forest. They are known to swim, hunt, and spawn near these algae.

Can you eat Kelpfish?

Yes, you can eat kelpfish. They have a mild taste and texture. They are eaten fried, or blended in with seafood salads

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including brain coral and  skate fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Kelpfish coloring pages.

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