I am still accepting submissions, but recently find I am too busy to work on my own drawings. I'm taking a break. I shall return one day with an entire ecosystem of life forms for you to enjoy.
One common fishnet-hunting false fish is the armfish. The fifth and lowest skull of these odd-looking animals is set back a ways (in most species about halfway down the body, some less, some more) and modified into a long, complex, grasping appendage. Sometimes the fourth skull is also used for grasping and coordinates with the fifth. Armfish will also capture mace snakes, not good for food, but a menace that no community wants around.
The ways that animals use to avoid becoming food at times seems endless. One type of fish is nearly symmetrical and capable of swimming backwards or forwards, keeping predators guessing which direction it will move next. It has a fin across its face that splits when the mouth opens.
Two types of fish are shaped like teardrops and school together, but one has a narrow mouth and the other a narrow tail, making them opposites and confusing predators which way they are facing.
Another group of fish have between two and five tails, depending on species. By using only one of the outer tails to swim and having different coloration on this part of the body, predators can be tricked into thinking that this part is the entire fish. When they reach for it, the fish can suddenly turn on its center of mass to move in unexpected ways. Alternately, the fish can make use of chromatophores to switch the colored part of its body to the other end, making it look as though the fish has mysteriously teleported, confusing predators to the point that they give up and hunt something less weird. The multitude of tails can also be used to grasp seaweed strands while resting.
The snaptail (seen above) has a large tail that looks like a gaping, toothy, mouth. It even has a false eye to complete the illusion. Unlike with Earth butterfly fish, this tail can actually snap shut on pursuers and draw blood.
A member of a larger group of false fish with distinct necks and heads containing a single mouth leading to anywhere from two to six throats, the racing goblin has a mouth full of terrifying teeth leading to only two throats. Like others of the group, the racing goblin lacks scales and instead has root-like growths spread under the skin. Three meters long and slender with large pectoral fins, the racing goblin is fast enough even to catch quickipedes and bite them in half. Nothing in the weedy seas is fast enough to catch up with it. Only ambush predators have a chance.
Preying on three-ways, sack-back worms, and tokorats, the tadpole crabs hunt primarily at night when they cannot be seen by larger predators, spending the day sleeping deep in the least accessible parts of the tangled weeds. At night, they stretch their long legs to feel for prey as they crawl through the weeds. When needed, they can also swim by means of a powerful tail.
Most organisms on Ectora undergo a gradual transformation in anatomy as they age, but few can be said to truly undergo metamorphosis. In contrast, tadpole crabs grow up to become frog crabs. To reduce competition, the adults feed during the day and mostly eat plankton or small swimming weeds that they capture in their comb-like claws. They lose their tail and instead rely on their flippered legs. These legs easily detach if caught.
During mating season, males will dance to catch the attention of females. If she is receptive, the male will pull off one of his own legs and offer it as a meal to fortify her for the ordeals of pregnancy. While she is distracted with her meal, the male will then fertilize her eggs. After a short gestation period, the female will lay her eggs inside a large clump of seaweed where they hatch immediately.
Flapper crabs are herbivores that swim by means of fins attached to leg joints or the sides of their leg segments. A few species also have fins attached to the main body. They are capable of swimming in any direction without turning the body. They hold their legs and bodies folded up in strange ways, often resembling just a clump of weeds.
A juice sucker with odd anatomy is the climbing fish. This diminutive false fish has five digestive tracts that begin in beaked mouths and end in anal cones. Both the beaks and the cones are used as legs for climbing through the weeds. Thus the ventral surface becomes the posterior and the dorsal surface becomes the anterior. The beaks often specialize in different activities for different parts of the weeds, such as stripping, chewing, or crushing. In most species, the foremost beak sits at the end of a long, jointed appendage used for wrapping around and grasping weeds. This beak is usually used only for drinking juices, which make up the bulk of the animal’s diet. In most species, the rearmost “legs” are also jointed enough to grasp weeds by working together. The larger species tend to be spiny and lightly armored while the smaller species tend to be soft and have very reduced bones.
Wider than they are long, ray crabs are highly flexible herbivorous crustaceans that only swim sideways by undulating their bodies (a few relatives in the reefs can also walk sideways on multiple rows of short legs). They often have reduced or absent legs, but have a separate set of feeding claws for each mouth. There are many genera, including stripe crabs (5 mouths), grazing crabs (9 mouths), and ribbon crabs (15 mouths). They can range from three centimeters long to fifteen meters long.
Tokorats, small-to-microscopic false crustaceans and the most numerous consumers in the weedy seas, are the ticks of planet Ectora. They spend their lives crawling through the weed clumps and sucking out juices. Some are able to burrow inside. Others are unable to pierce the thick skins of the sunburst weeds and instead wait for swimming weeds to pass by where they will attach themselves. More than a few species will actually attach to animals and suck blood instead. They will have anywhere from four to ten mouths and any number of legs modified for walking, climbing, swimming, grasping, or digging.
One of the strangest organisms on the planet Ectora is the three-way. Unique in having a gut open in three locations, it has no clear mouth or anus and defies convention. It is adapted to consume both liquid and solid food. Liquid food is drawn in through the needle and waste expelled out the pucker-mouth (this is also where the kidneys empty) while solid food is taken in through the pucker-mouth and expelled through the pore. Weeds are softened with heat produced by electrical resistors in the lips of the pucker-mouth. These three orifices are at the ends of arms they use to grip and crawl through the weeds. They spend most of their lives on one side and some species show minor asymmetry. Some species also swim weakly by means of hairs on their outer edges.