The comet is a tropical reef-dwelling fish that is characterised by its dark black-brown body which is covered in small white spots. Its large fins can be expanded wide, forming a large oval disc, or pulled in, reducing the comet’s apparent size.

Its most striking visual characteristic is the large blue-edged eyespot on its dorsal fin.

The comet is a nocturnal predator. During the day it tends to stay hidden in crevasses or under ledges. At night it leaves its hiding places in search of small fish and crustaceans.

When it identifies prey, the comet will flare its fins and approach the fish by swimming sideways. Often, the dorsal fin eyespot will confuse the prey into thinking that the comet’s tail is its head. The prey will try to escape “behind” the comet, but will actually be swimming towards its mouth.

If a comet is startled or pursued by a larger predator when hunting, it once again uses its tail. The comet will hide its head in a hole, and by flaring its tail it can fool predators into thinking that it is a moray eel’s head, specifically the guineafowl moray (Gymnothorax meleagris).

The IUCN status has not yet been assessed.

Species Facts

  • It is also known as a marine betta.
  • Found along the East African coast and the Red Sea.
  • Grows to 20cm long.
  • Uses its tail to fool predators into thinking it is a moral eel.