SCIENCE IN PICS: A School of Razorfish Hangs Together

September 29, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
A school of razorfish at Gilimanuk in Bali, Indonesia. (Matthew Oldfield)
A school of razorfish at Gilimanuk in Bali, Indonesia. (Matthew Oldfield)

Razorfish, Aeoliscus strigatus, inhabit seagrass beds and coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific, and spend their whole lives in a vertical position.

Their elongated bodies are protected with transparent bony plates that form a spine at the tail and a ridge along the underside, like the edge of a razor.

They start life as a dark-colored juvenile, but become silvery as adults with a dark line running the length of the body that helps them blend into their surroundings.

Also known as striped shrimpfish, they reach up to about 6 inches in length.

Their head-down, tail-up swimming habit allows them to hide among sea urchin spines, enabling them to escape predators and also hunt prey.

These fish are carnivorous, feeding on small invertebrates like brine shrimp.

They often aggregate into large groups, all synchronized in a vertical position.

Matthew Oldfield is a freelance photographer based in Bali, Indonesia, specializing in editorial and documentary images from both above and below the waves. He works primarily with charities, NGO’s, and other organizations working to conserve the environment, endangered species, and disappearing cultures.

Matthew is on Twitter @matthewophoto. More of his photos can be found at

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