5 Clever Fish Species That Use Camouflage to Survive in the Ocean

It would be pretty great to be able to use camouflage to protect ourselves and get out of some sticky situations, wouldn’t it?

Whilst camouflage is often featured in movies, books, and television shows, such as the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World and the Invisible Woman in Fantastic 4, there’s also a fair few animals in the world that share this awesome characteristic.

Chameleons are pretty well-known around the world for their distinct abilities to blend into their surroundings, but they’re not the only ones. In fact, Arctic foxes are also able to change their colour depending on varying environments, moulting their fur to blend better with their terrain throughout the seasons.

It’s not just reptiles and mammals that are able to use camouflage, there’s also a fair few different species of fish that can disguise for their advantage. Here are five of our favourite fish that use camouflage to survive in the ocean, some of which you can even see right here at Blue Reef Aquarium Tynemouth!

Camouflage in the animal kingdom is amazing, these animals have adapted over millions of years to become so stealthy. This is not magic or a trick, just a clever way to survive!


Not only do trumpetfish have an awesome name, they’re also great at sneaking up on unsuspecting prey.

Trumpetfish are able to swim vertically in a swaying rhythm, pulling off the disguise of a floating stick. Unsuspecting prey are caught off-guard when the trumpetfish swoop down and suck them up.

Reef Stonefish

Not only is the reef stonefish (also known as the rockfish) one of the most venomous fish in the world, it is also a master of disguise.

Found in the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific region, stonefish live on reef bottoms while being disguised as rocks or corals. This disguise allows the stonefish to ambush unsuspecting shrimps and other small fish for food.

Using their large pectoral fins, the stonefish is also able to bury itself into sand – another way of camouflaging itself. You can see the stonefish ‘in action’ here at Blue Reef Aquarium Tynemouth.

Painted Frogfish

The painted frogfish shares the same superpower as the chameleon, in that it is able to adapt to its surroundings by changing colour based on its environment.

Found on rocky and coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, the painted frogfish can grow up to 30cm long. Its large mouth allows it to eat prey that is the same size as itself.

The extensible body of a frogfish is usually covered in spots, stripes, blotches, and filaments. This allows the species to imitate its surroundings and become hidden from predators. Top fact: the frogfish is named due to the fact its skin and legs resemble a frog, despite still being a species of fish.


The lionfish, just like the reef stonefish, is another incredibly venomous species of fish where its sting can cause severe pain and possibly even death.

The common species of lionfish has a transparent dorsal fin that is also covered with dark spots – allowing the lionfish to blend into its surroundings, such as coral and gorgonian sea fans. There are currently 12 known species of lionfish, all ranging in different colours and patterns. You can see and learn more about the common fish at our aquarium.

Leafy Sea Dragon

The leafy sea dragon is another marine species that is excellent at camouflage and belongs to the same family as seahorses and pipefish (who are also great at disguise).

The name comes from its appearance and its leaf-like protrusions. The leafy sea dragon is able to propel itself with the pectoral fin situated on its neck, alongside its dorsal fin. The sea dragon’s fins are almost transparent, which make them difficult to see, helping to add to the illusion of floating seaweed.

Sea dragons, unlike seahorses, are unable to curl their tails onto weeds or seagrasses to stay safe. This can often result in many sea dragons being washed ashore during storms.

Come and Meet Some of the Masters of Disguise!

Not only are you able to see the lionfish and stonefish here at Blue Reef Tynemouth, but you’ll also be able to come ‘face-to-fin’ with other camouflage experts, such as piranhas and crabs.

We’ve got plenty more creatures too – say hello to our seals, otters, and much more during our great talks and feeding times.

Don’t forget that if you book your tickets in advance online, you’ll make big savings on prices!

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