10 Animals that Change Their Color - and How They Do It

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7. Mantis Shrimp

Even the mantis shrimp is able to adapt its color to match its surroundings. If it swims around green kelp, it will also be green. On the sandy ocean floor, the mantis shrimp changes to a light brown. The perfect camouflage!

Mantis Shrimp Mantis Shrimp - Photo: John A. Anderson/Shutterstock

Mantis Shrimp Mantis Shrimp - Photo: Stubblefield Photography/Shutterstock

Hide and seek

6. Bignose Unicorn Fish

Color-changing for the cleaners

The bignose unicorn fish doesn’t just use its color changing abilities to camouflage itself or impress lady fish. Annoying little parasites are always on this fish’s back. Thankfully there are “cleaner fish” that live off these parasites. To make it easier for the cleaner fish to do their jobs and to get rid of their uninvited guests a lot faster, the bignose unicorn fish will turn pale several times a day.

5. Mosquitofish

Black and white art

This small ray-finned fish doesn’t boast colorful, shimmering scales, but adapts its color to suit its surroundings. If the environment is light, it gets lighter. As soon as it’s dark, it intensifies the dark colors in its skin. By the way: The Mosquitofish can do math! In one experiment, 10 mosquitofish were placed in a water tank. One out of two doors lead to a bigger tank with other mosquitofish. But: Only the door with the correct number of symbols opened the door.

In order to prevent the fish from simply orienting themselves towards a certain size of objects, the researchers used a clever method: although the number of symbols was always the same, they always differed in form, size, brightness and distance. The mosquitofish could not be confused and chose the right door.

4. Frogfish

Yellow, brown, red, green, black

This unusual-looking fish looks like a sponge as it sits motionless between them. You’d struggle to notice it. Many frogfish can also change their color. Light frogfish can turn yellow and yellow-brown. Dark frogfish can turn dark green, black or dark red. We’re still not completely sure why they do it.

Frogfish Frogfish - Photo: Silke Baron/Shutterstock

Frogfish Frogfish - Photo: bierchen/Shutterstock