Trumpetfish Facts

Scientific Name : Aulostomus

Yellow Trumpetfish at Kona Island, Hawaii.

Tom Meyer/Moment/Getty Images

Trumpetfish are part of class Actinopterygii, which consists of ray-finned fish, and can be found in coral reefs throughout the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. There are three species of trumpetfish under the scientific name Aulostomus: the West Atlantic trumpetfish (A. maculatus), the Atlantic trumpetfish (A. strigosus), and the Chinese trumpetfish (A. chinensis). Their name is derived from the Greek words flute (aulos) and mouth (stoma) for their long mouths.

Fast Facts

  • Scientific Name: Aulostomus
  • Common Names: Trumpetfish, Caribbean trumpetfish, stickfish
  • Order: Syngnathiformes
  • Basic Animal Group: Fish
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Long, slender bodies with a small mouth, varied colors.
  • Size: 24-39 inches
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Life Span: Unknown
  • Diet: Small fish and crustaceans
  • Habitat: Coral reefs and rocky reefs throughout the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.
  • Population: Unknown
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Fact: Male trumpetfish carry fertilized eggs with them until they hatch.


Trumpetfish have elongated bodies and snouts leading into a small jaw. The lower jaw has small teeth, and their chin has a short barbel for defense. They also have a row of spines on their backs that can be raised to ward off predators, and their body is covered with small scales.

Trumpetfish can grow anywhere from 24 to 39 inches depending on the species, with A. chinesis reaching up to 36 inches, A. maculatus averaging 24 inches, and A. strigosus reaching up to 30 inches. Their coloration helps them blend in with their environment, and they can even change their colors for stealth and during their mating ritual.

Habitat and Distribution

Trumpetfish in Chichiriviche de la Costa,Venezuela,Caribbean Sea. Humberto Ramirez/Moment/Getty Images

A. maculatus are found in the Caribbean sea and off the northern coasts of South America, A. chinensis are found throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans, and A. strigosus are found in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa and parts of South America. They live in coral reefs and reef flats in the tropical and subtropical waters in these areas.

Diet and Behavior

A trumpetfish’s diet consists of small fish and crustaceans, as well as occasionally larger fish. For larger prey, trumpetfish swim near large herbivorous fish to hide and ambush their prey. To catch smaller food, they float in a vertical, head-down position among corals to conceal themselves—a technique that also hides them from predators—and wait for their prey to come across their path. They capture them by suddenly expanding their mouth, which generates a suction strong enough to draw in their prey. Additionally, they can also consume fish larger than the diameter of their mouths due to the elasticity of their tissue.

Reproduction and Offspring

Not much is known about trumpetfish reproduction, but trumpetfish begin courtship via a dancing ritual. Males use their color changing abilities and dance to win over females. This ritual occurs close to the surface. After the ritual, females transfer their eggs to the males to fertilize and care for until they hatch. Like seahorses, the males care for the eggs, carrying them in a special pouch.


Trumpetfish. Daniela Dirscherl/WaterFrame/Getty Images Plus

There are three species of Aulostomus: A. maculatus, A. chinensis, and A. strigosus. The coloration of these fish changes depending on the species. A. maculatus are most commonly reddish-brown but also can be grey-blue and yellow-green with black spots. A. chinensis can be yellow, reddish-brown, or brown with pale bands. The most common colors for A. strigosus are brown or blue, green or orange tones, or intermediate shades. They also have a pattern of pale, vertical/horizontal lines across their body. A. chinensis are seen in shallow reef flats of at least 370 feet. They can be seen swimming close to coral or rocky sea floors or floating motionless under ledges. A. strigosus are a more coastal species and are found over rocky or coral substrates in inshore waters. A. maculatus range in depth from 7-82 feet and are found close to coral reefs.

Conservation Status

All three species of Aulostomus are currently designated as least concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the A. maculatus population has been found to be decreasing, while the populations of A. chinensis and A. strigosus are currently unknown.


  • "Aulostomus chinensis". IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, 2019, 65134886/82934000.
  • "Aulostomus maculatus". IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, 2019,
  • "Aulostomus strigosus". IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, 2019, 21133172/112656647.
  • Bell, Elanor, and Amanda Vincent. "Trumpetfish | Fish". Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, animal/trumpetfish.
  • Bester, Cathleen. "Aulostomus Maculatus". Florida Museum, 2019,
  • "Eastern Atlantic Trumpetfish (Aulostomus Strigosus)". Inaturalist, 2019,
  • "Trumpetfish". Lamar University, 2019,
  • "Trumpetfish". Waikīkī Aquarium, 2019,
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Your Citation
Bailey, Regina. "Trumpetfish Facts." ThoughtCo, Sep. 23, 2022, Bailey, Regina. (2022, September 23). Trumpetfish Facts. Retrieved from Bailey, Regina. "Trumpetfish Facts." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).