Fish Identification: Rock Beauty

[Rock Beauty][]
Rock beauties are a common sighting on many reefs. Other names for the fish include corn sugar, coshubba, rock beasty, and yellow nanny. I haven't heard these, so stick with rock beauty and most people will know what you are talking about.

Physical description

Rock beauties are in the angelfish family, so they have the usual large-shaped, flat bodies of that species. They don't get as big as most angelfish, topping out at around 12 inches (35 cm).

Rock beauties are most easily distinguished by their color rather than their body shape. They have a bright yellow head and caudal fin. Sometimes these two patches of yellow connect above and below the large black region on the rear of their body. They have big lips that are iridescent blue.

Juvenile rock beauties are almost entirely bright yellow, with a single black spot on the upper rear of their bodies. As they grow older, this spot grows until it covers most of the back of the fish.

Geography and Habitat

Rock beauties are reef fish in the western Atlantic down to the Gulf of Mexico, and can be found at all diving depths.

They hang around reefs, rock jetties, or any sort of crevices that offer some protection. They are very territorial, so you will rarely see them venture far from their shelter.

Fun facts

It is thought that rock beauties are monogamous, due to the observed long-lasting pairs they form.

Further reading

Florida Museum of Natural History

[Rock Beauty]:

Basic Wetsuit Care

Take care of your wetsuit, and it'll take care of you
Water conducts heat away from your body 20 times faster than air, so the only thing keeping you from freezing after 15 minutes of diving is your wetsuit. Excellent care is a must to keep it insulating well for a long time.

  • After a dive

    Most people know this one. After a dive, rinse the wetsuit thoroughly in fresh water. Take a moment and run your hands over it, rubbing away any salt that may try to dry inside. This basic step will do more for your wetsuit than anything else. Don't forget to do the same after pool dives …

What Makes Something Sink or Float?

Lift bags make heavy objects positively buoyant
Buoyancy is determined by a lot of competing factors on a scuba diver. The net effect, however, is that you are either positively, negatively, or neutrally buoyant. For recreational divers, you are usually positively buoyant (at the surface). Weights are used to offset this positive buoyancy and make you slightly negatively buoyant, in order to sink to depth. Choosing weights may feel largely like guesswork, but there are physical principle at work as you dial in to your ideal weighting.

Archimedes' principle

The most basic principle at work is Archimedes' principle, which states that an object in a liquid is …

Scuba Dive Gear Paint

Fabric Paint
Last weekend we were in a local dive shop killing some time. We saw some fabric paint for sale that was meant for writing your name on gear, or drawing pretty pictures, who knows. How much? 8 bucks.

Looking closer, we saw that the label, which said something like, "Scuba Dive Gear Paint", was actually affixed on top of another manufacturer's label. My girlfriend, Maritza, pointed out the manufacturer, telling me they sold that brand in Michael's, the arts and crafts store.

Later that day we happened to pass by a Michael's, so we stopped in. Sure enough, we saw …

Fish Identification - Soldierfish

This week we have yet another standard resident of the reef, the soldierfish. Soldierfish are in the squirrelfish family, so you may hear them referred to as such, but they actually are a little more specific.

Physical description

As a member of the squirrelfish family, soldierfish also have red bodies. As you might expect, though, this tends to fade out with depth, yet the fish should still be recognizable. They are nocturnal, and thus have large eyes for seeing in low light. They usually grow to 6-14 in (15-35 cm) in length.

Soldierfish have a forked caudal fin. They also …

Enriched Air Diving

Disclaimer: Do not attempt to dive with enriched air unless you have completed the appropriate speciality course. Doing so without complete training can be very dangerous.

Enriched air can mean any gas blend other than the standard 21% oxygen / 79% nitrogen that comprises what we call "air." For our purposes in this article, enriched air will refer to a blend of oxygen and nitrogen in which the oxygen content has been raised, more commonly called "Nitrox" (or EANx, Enriched Air Nitrox). We won't be concerned with Tri-mixes and the like---usually the domain of tech diving.

Nitrox blends increase the oxygen …

Scuba Dive Agencies

I admit it. The articles I write for The Diving Blog tend to be PADI-centric. Do I think PADI is better than all the others? Not really. I did my Open Water certification with PADI and just happened to move through their system. I'm working on a PADI divemaster certification (and soon, Open Water Instructor).

To introduce a little fairness, I decided to investigate several agencies and report on the differences. The result may not be a big surprise. The differences between agencies are small. When you dig deeper you uncover the reason for this. There are international (and national …

Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver

Advanced certification
Following basic certification, many divers immediately move on to an advanced certification level. Especially since some activities (like deep dives) require an advanced card.

Advanced certification has been criticized for being somewhat of a misnomer. In all certification agencies, the advanced level is attained with a relatively small number of dives. For this reason, it has been suggested to rename the advanced open water level to something like, "Open Water II" (as it was previously called by NAUI) or "Comprehensive Open Water", to better indicate the nature of the course. Regardless of what it is called, those that dive regularly …

Fish Identification: Spotted Drum

One fish I really enjoy spotting is the spotted drum. It's not uncommon to find one, but it's infrequently enough where they're not boring.

Physical description

Spotted drum are about 6-9 inches in length (about 20-something centimeters). If you see one, you will know it. It is an easily recognized fish that is white with broad black stripes in varying directions. The dorsal fin and tail are usually adorned with white spots. If that isn't distinguishable enough, they have a long, white and black "feather" connected on top of their body, between the head and dorsal fin.

Geography and Habitat …

Dive Instructors Travel the World

I recently came across this article on world travelers who make their money online. The first profile is of a British couple who travel the world as dive instructors.

Ben Stokes and Sarah Kemsley met on vacation in Malaysia (while diving, I assume). Neither of them returned to school, and instead live abroad setting up dive tours. They spend 3-4 months at a time in various locations. Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Honduras, Belize, Fiji---their home bases read like a top dive destination list from a travel magazine.

I imagine it is difficult keeping a steady stream of customers working in this …