Lines and stripes

Lines, stripes, bars, and bands are prominent characteristics used in the identification of species, especially fishes, and are a frequent component in the make-up of scientific names of aquatic animals.

Although ichthyology has general definitions regarding terms such as band, bar, stripe, and line, these can sometimes appear confusing; similarly the Latin and Greek words appearing in compound names can be used inconsistently, with different authors inferring different meanings, and are not reliable guides to orientation, vertical or horizontal, of the markings that they refer to.

As a general guide:
Stripe – a horizontal or longitudinal marking in the form of a line.
Bar – a vertical or diagonal marking in the form of a line.
Band – any linear marking that contrasts with its immediate surroundings; a vertical band is a bar, a horizontal band is a stripe; a vertical marking that may encircle the body.
Line – a thin mark of any orientation.





cinctus, -aLatin, cingoa girdle, belt; gird, wreathe, crownChrysiptera tricincta (Allen & Randall, 1974), the Threeband damselfish.
fasciatus, -a, -umLatin, fasciaa band, bandage, swathe, girth, fillet; lined, stripedEviota bifasciata Lachner & Karnella, 1980, the Twostripe Eviota
Greekthat which is drawn, stroke of a pen, a line; linedMeiacanthus grammistes (Valenciennes, 1836), the Striped poison-fang blenny
lineatus, -a, -um
Latin, linealine; lined, stripedChromis lineata Fowler & Bean, 1928, the Lined chromis
striatus, -a, -umLatin, striohaving furrows or channels, grooved, fluted, striated; stripedPomacanthus sexstriatus (Cuvier, 1831), the Sixbar angelfish
Latin, taenia
(Greek, tainia)
band, hair-band, ribbon, filletPseudocheilinus hexataenia (Bleeker, 1857), the Sixline wrasse
virgatusLatinmade of twigs; stripedSiganus virgatus (Valenciennes, 1835), the Barhead spinefoot
vittatus, -a, -umLatinbound with a fillet, chapleted, wreathed; with bands or stripes of colour, stripedThalassoma quinquevittatum (Lay & Bennett, 1839),
the Fivestripe wrasse
zonus, -a
Latin, zonusbelt, girdle, zonePomacanthus zonipectus (Gill, 1862), the Cortez angelfish
zoster-Greek, zosterbelt, girdleArchamia zosterophora (Bleeker, 1856), the Blackbelted cardinalfish