The first five species touched on in this post are some fishes that can tend to be overlooked when planning out the livestock for a Caribbean tank, and can sometimes fly "under the radar" on the reef.
Neon Gobies are often observed singly or in pairs, hanging close to coral heads or just under overhangs built into the crevasses of the reef. They are quick to dart into holes or other hiding places, so collecting from the wild may take practice and patience. A first-rate option for a local nano tank, as the bold blue stripes along their sides bring a lot of additional color to a reef tank.
Neon Gobies are also readily bred in captivity, Oceans, Reefs, and Aquariums (ORA) produces a large variety of E. oceanops and other similar species at their facility in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Masked Gobies are small, colorful, and abundant fishes that are often seen in groups clustered together in medium-sized gaps in the reef rockwork. Hovering in the water, these gobies are relatively slow swimming and easy to corral, and their translucent midsection and orange patches make them an understated beauty. Maximum size is usually less than 1.5", making these peaceful gobies an excellent choice for a local biotope nano aquarium.
The Chalk Basslet is one of the best smaller-sized sea basses for the home aquarium. Possessing a mild disposition and a hearty appetite, these beautiful neon blue and dusty pink splotched fish look great under blue lighting. In larger setups, pairs and trios can be maintained provided there is enough food and space for the basslets to get along. Wary and quick to dart, Chalk Basslets are occasionally found South Florida waters, but make a difficult catch for the responsible collector.
The Lantern Basslet is another great fish from Family Serranidae, but can at time show a little bit more aggression to tank mates. Found naturally near coral rubble and seagrass beds, Lantern Basslets generally rest or hover near the bottom of a larger tank, but do exhibit a wholesome appetite for invertebrates, and therefore should only be kept in fish-only systems. An excellent local shore dive guaranteed to showcase Lantern Basslets would be Blue Heron Bridge, where the pilings and coral rubble create a great habitat for these colorful, gregarious seabasses.
The Twospot Cardinalfish is another local gem that possesses a bright red coloration with several eyespots along its body. Not two be confused with the Flame Cardinalfish (only has one spot), both fishes do well in medium-sized tank, and prefer dimly-lit areas and overhangs to peer out from the shadows. Common throughout South Florida, their ranges stretches down through the Dry Tortugas and into the greater Caribbean.