Muck-diving and Macro-diving Underwater Critters

Field Guide for Underwater photography macro subjects in Anilao, Indonesia, Bali, Ambon, Lembeh & Dumaguete
By Scott Gietler

This is the underwater critter list and online field guide of over 130 macro species that I used for Anilao, Philippine, Bali and Lembeh, Indonesia for macro underwater photography. It is list of the most sought after underwater photo subjects in the Indo-Pacific region.


We found 90% or more of these critters in Anilao, and almost all are also found in Lembeh, Sulawesi. This is also a great macro subject list for Mabul, Dumaguete, Ambon, Bali, Papau New Guinea or any other muck diving area in the Indo-pacific region.

Photos by Scott Gietler unless otherwised mentioned.


ornate ghost pipefishpeacock mantis shrimpsoft coral crabflamboyant cuttlefish







bobbit worm, anilao

Bobbit worm, Eunice aphroditois

fire worm

Fire Worm



Nudibranchs & Molluscs


Phyllodesmium rudmani, xeni mimic nudibranch
Phyllodesmium rudmani, Xenia mimic nudibranch

Marionia nudibranch
Marionia species

ceratosoma alleni nudibranch underwater critter
Ceratosoma alleni, photo by Mike Bartick

solar powered nudibranch, lembeh

Solar-powered nudibranch. Photo by Larry Polster


solar powered nudibranch, phyllodesmium

Solar-powered nudibranch, Phyllodesmium longicirrum. Anilao. Photo by Mike Bartick.


swimming clam

Swimming Clam, Bali

electric clam

Electric Clam, photo by Marli Wakeling



Shrimps and Crabs

mantis shrimp underwater photoGorlock mantis shrimp

Peacock mantis shrimp, gorlock mantis shrimp

Bumblebee Shrimp

Bumblebee shrimp, very rare! (great find Peri!)


colmani shrimp photo

 Colmani shrimp, lives in pairs on fire urchins

harlequin shrimp
Harlequin shrimp. Feeds on blue starfish.

Anemone shrimp
Anemone shrimp

bubble coral shrimp

sexy shrimp
jumping shrimp, Thor amboinensis. Often waves its tail, sits outside anemones. Also called "Sexy shrimp"

Imperial shrimp
Imperial shrimp, found on sea cucumbers and Spanish Dancers.

crinoid shrimp
Crinoid shrimps, always found on a similar host featherstar

Tozeuma shrimp
Donald duck shrimp, Leander plumosus

tiger shrimp
Tiger shrimp, Bali

Hairy squat lobster
Hairy squat lobster (purple), Lauriea siagiani. Lives on Barrel sponges.

Crinoid crab
Squat lobster (crinoid crab)

xeno crab
Xeno crab, found on wire coral

porcelain crab
porcelain crab

Soft coral crab

Soft coral crab

Humpback prawn,  Metapenaeopsis lamellata. I call it the evil shrimp.

sawblade shrimp

Sawblade Shrimp, Tozeuma species. By Jeff de Guzman

saron shrimp, anilao

Saron shrimp

army shrimp

Red Army Shrimp (Bali), Rhynchoinetes durbanensis

harlequin crab

Harlequin crab

orangutang crab

Orangutan crab

slipper lobster

Slipper lobster, photo by Mike Bartick

wire coral shrimp

Wire-coral shrimp

crab in lembeh

Zebra crab on fire urchin, Lembeh. Photo by Larry Polster

boxer crab underwater

Boxer Crab, photo by Mike Bartick



Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

reef squid

Common Reef squid

Bobtail squid
Bobtail squid

pygmy squid
Pygmy (mimic) cuttlefish

flamboyant cuttlefish
Flamboyant cuttlefish

broadclub cuttlefish
broadclub cuttlefish

pygmy cuttlefish
Pygmy cuttlefish

cuttlefish bali

large cuttlefish

wonderpus octopus
Wonderpus octopus

coconut octopus
Coconut octopus


mototi octopus

Mototi octopus, photo by Mike Bartick

blue ringed octopus
Blue-ringed octopus, photo by Mike Bartick

blue-ring octopous

Another Blue-ringed octopus, from Raja Ampat. Photo by Kevin Lee

Mimic octopus
Mimic octopus



Juvenile Fish


Juvenile longfin batfish
juvenile longfin batfish

juvenile harlequin sweetlips

Juvenile harlequn sweetlips

juvenile harlequin sweetlips
juvenile harlequin sweetlips, older stage

juvenile oriental sweetlips

juvenile oriental sweetlips


juvenile pufferfish
juvenile spotted boxfish or pufferfish, very tiny


juvenile rockmover wrasse

Juvenile Rockmover Wrasse from Kona, Hawaii. Photo by Jeff Laity.


Juvenile Catfish
juvenile catfish

juvenile Lionfish
juvenile lionfish

juvenile pinnate batfish
juvenile pinnate batfish

juvenile barrimundi cod
juvenile barrimundi

juvenile ribbon eel

juvenile ribbon eel. Juveniles are black, adult males blue, old females yellow.

juvenile emporer angelfish

juvenile emporer angelfish






Hairy frogfish, a version of the Striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus. Photo by Brent Durand

frogfish, lembeh

Frogfish, photo by Larry Polster



pianted frogfish

Juvenile painted frogfish

Painted frogfish, Antennarius pictus

Painted frogfish, Antennarius pictus, photo by Jeffrey de Guzman. Species often develop large scab like patches on body. This species has the ability to change almost any color including white, black, red, pink, orange, yellow and brown.


Warty frogfish

Juvenile warty frogfish

warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus

Warty frogfish.

warty frogfish

Warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus. Photos by Jeffrey de Guzman. Juveniles frequently yellow with red-brown saddle and orange borders of rear dorsal and tail fins. Often in open sand.


Randall's Frogfish, Antennarius randalli


Antennarius randalli, Randall's Frogfish - Dark Phase. Photos by Jeffrey de Guzman




Antennarius coccineus, Freckled Frogfish


Antennarius coccineus, Freckled Frogfish.Photo by Jeffrey de Guzman.




pygmy seahorse anilao, phillipines

Pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti

thorny seahorse
yellow (thorny) seahorse

giant seahorse anilao phillipines
Giant seahorse of Anilao

giant seahorse in soft coral

Another Giant Seahorse of Anilao

yellow pygmy seahorse
Yellow pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus denise


Pipehorse, related to pipefish and seahorses

lembeh pipedragon

New lembeh pipedragon, Kyonemichthys rumengani. Photo by Marli Wakeling. Looks like a stick or algae.




coral banded pipefish
coral banded pipefish

sand pipefish
Sand pipefish

Common pipefish (photo coming soon)

robust ghost pipefish
robust ghost pipefish

ornate ghost pipefish
Ornate ghost (harlequin) pipefish

Juvenile ornate ghost pipefish, colors not defined yet

Halimeda ghost pipefish

Halimeda ghost pipefish

mushroom coral pipefish, Siokunichthys nigrolineatus
Mushroom coral pipefish, Siokunichthys nigrolineatus




Check out Mike Bartick's great Rhinopia article


rhinopia eschmeyeri
Rhinopia eschmeyeri

Rhinopia frondosa, weedy rhinopia
Rhinopia frondosa, Weedy Rhinopia

lacy rhinopia, Rhinopia aphanes, ambon

Rhinopia aphanes, Lacey Rhinopia. Photo by Larry Polster



Photogenic Fish


snake eel

Snake Eel

crocodile snake eel

Crocodile snake eel (bites!)

napolean snake eel

Napolean snake eel

garden eel

Garden eel, very shy

garden eels

Garden eels, hard to approach


blue ribbon eel

Male ribbon eel

female ribbon eel, lembeh

female ribbon eel, lembeh. Rarely seen, the female is the last color stage of the Ribbon eel. Photo by Larry Polster.


wire coral goby

Wire coral goby

Fire Dartfish

Fire dartfish

mimic filefish

Mimic Filefish, mimics a Toby. 


underwater critter list
Razorfish (shrimpfish)

banggai cardinalfish lembeh

Banggai Cardinalfish

pajama cardinal fish

Pajama cardinalfish, photo by Bill Van Antwerp


urchin clingfish

Urchin clingfish, photo by Mike Bartick

Convict blennies


Cometfish, juvenile

leafy filefish

Leafy filefish

soft coral fishfish

Soft coral filefish, photo by Mike Bartick

underwater critter photography

Green algae filefish, found in shallow harbors

scrawled fishfish
Scrawled filefish



spotted boxfish

Spotted blue Boxfish

yellow boxfish, bali

Yellow boxfish

mandarin fish
Mandarin fish



Camoflauged bottom-dwelling fish



Fingered Dragonet  from Anilao, Dactylopus dactylopus


common lionfish

Common Lionfish

leaf scorpionfish

Leaf scorpionfish

twinspot lionfish

Twin spot lionfish,photo by Marli Wakeling

yellow shortfin lionfish

Shortfin lionfish, Dendrochirus brachypterus. Rare yellow variation. Photo by Mark Strickland

crocofile flathead

Crocodile flathead

stonefish underwater photo

Stonefish face, photo by Mike bartick


sanddiver display, bali

Sanddiver, male displaying with 2 females of his harem

pegasus sea moth
Pegasus sea moth, photo by Kevin Lee

flying gurnard
Flying gurnard

cuckatoo waspfish, lembeh
Cuckatoo waspfish, Lembeh. Photo by Larry Polster

devil scorpionfish
Devil scorpionfish


Ambon scorpionfish

Ambon scorpionfish

scorpionfish, lembeh

Male ambon scorpionfish, lembeh. Photo by Larry Polster.


Sea snake
Sea snakes, not to be confused with the similar Banded snake eel


Further reading:

Muck-diving and Macro-diving Underwater Critters
Scott Gietler
Field Guide for Underwater photography macro subjects in Anilao, Indonesia, Bali, Ambon, Lembeh & Dumaguete


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