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Love is in the … Water? Valentine’s Day Inspiration from the Aquatic Animal World

How do you show your friends, family or partner that you love them? From gifting giant teddy bears and boxes of chocolates to planning a dreamy candlelit dinner with rose petals leading the way, there are many ways to express how much you care.

If you haven’t yet been struck by cupid’s arrow, let these aquatic animals get you in the mood for romance this Valentine’s Day!

Green Kissing Gourami (Helostoma temminckii)

Pucker up! Kissing gouramis have protruding lips, an extra joint near their jaw and small teeth that allow them to easily scrape and suction food like algae off surfaces.

It is also believed that individual fish will “lock lips” with another kissing gourami to assert dominance and establish territories, hence their name. This species is native to Southeast Asia.

A small silver fish with prominent, puckered lips.

Green kissing gourami

Rosy Rockfish (Sebastes rosaceus)

Bunches of roses come in several colors, similar to the rosy rockfish. The color of the rosy rockfish can vary in shades of red, pink and yellow with purple stripes on its head and upper body. But these bright colors are hard to see at the depths it lives, from about 100 to 150 feet below the surface, camouflaged in the shadows of crevices in rocky reefs. They are native to the Eastern Pacific Ocean from Washington to Baja California.

A football-shaped orange fish with white stripes.

Rosy rockfish

An orange and yellow fish stares headlong at the camera with its huge round eyes.

Rosy rockfish

Yellowbanded Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus lineatus)

Sweet like candy! The yellowbanded sweetlips, also known by several other common names, have prominent yellow lips that grow as they age. They also sport a bold, black striped pattern with stunning yellow fins. The species lives in deep water and is nocturnal, foraging at night in sea grass beds and open areas of sand. They are native to reefs, coral slopes and lagoons in the Indian and west-central Pacific Oceans.

A black and white striped fish with large yellow lips swims among rocks and corals.

Yellowbanded sweetlips

A black and white striped fish with large yellow lips looks sidelong at the camera.

Yellowbanded sweetlips

Strawberry False Coral (Corynactis californica)

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a Valentine’s Day staple. Be inspired by the strawberry false coral, also known as the strawberry anemone. These small animals live on the west coast of North America — especially common in California — on vertical rock walls or at the bottom of kelp forests. Although usually red like the fruit they are named after, they can also be purple, brown, yellow or nearly white.

Small jeweled anemone grow in bright pink flower-like clumps, each small protruding mouth surrounded by a ring of small stumpy stinging tentacles.

Strawberry false coral

Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)

While some prefer chocolate-covered cherries, the cherry barb adds the iconic red color to the aquatic world. The cherry barb is aptly named for its bright cherry red coloring throughout its whole body. These small freshwater fish live in groups in slow-flowing streams within the Kelani and Nilwala Rivers in southwest Sri Lanka, and were also introduced to Colombia and South America.

A tiny bright red fish with large fins.

Cherry barb

Giant Pink Star (Pisaster brevispinus)

Looking for a giant teddy bear to gift your loved one? In the aquatic animal world, the giant pink star is one of the largest and heaviest sea star species. It eats several types of clams that bury themselves in the sand, so the sea star uses its tiny tube feet to dig out their meals up to 10 inches deep. They are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.

A purple starfish clings to the glass with small pink feet.

Giant pink star

A closeup of a starfish's toothy mouth surrounded by small pink feet.

Giant pink star