YourFishStore Rabbitfish are hand-picked, carefully screened for size and exceptional color, quality, and health by our expert hobbyists.Foxface and rabbitfish are peaceful, colourful fish that love to eat algae. They have venomous dorsal and anal fins that can deliver a painful sting. Care must be taken when handling these fish or maintaining an aquarium that contains them. Recommended for experienced marine aquarists. Rabbitfish, found in shallow lagoons, have small, hare-like mouths, large dark eyes, and a peaceful temperament. They are colorful, and have well developed, venomous dorsal and anal fin spines. Use caution when handling these fish, as the spines will inflict a painful sting. There are a number of fish that not only look great but serve a valuable function in the aquarium. This is especially true when it comes to trying to control undesirable plant material in the reef aquarium. Many coralkeepers have had to fight the botanical nemesis known as algae. While there are some desirable forms of algae, others can cause an aquarist to pull his or her hair out. One group of fish employed by reef aquarists to help control this botanical pest are the rabbitfishes (family Siganidae). These are some of the most effective algae-eaters that roam the reef. The rabbitfishes are a good selection for the moderate to large aquarium (at least 55 gallons or larger). They are active fishes that normally cover a lot of territory in their daily pursuits. Therefore, it is important to provide them with a lot of swimming room. Be aware that the rabbitfishes vary in size (see the species accounts later in the article). When it comes to food, rabbitfishes are usually not finicky. However, it is important to include plenty of plant material in their diets. This includes nori (sheets of dried algae), spinach leaves that have been frozen and thawed, broccoli, and flake and frozen foods that contain Spirulina. They will also eat algae growing on the aquarium glass or decor, or introduced macroalgae, such as Caulerpa. Some of the rabbitfishes will also eat fecal matter produced by their piscine tankmates. They eat throughout the day in the wild, so feed them often in a tank that does not contain healthy plant growth for them to regularly browse on. The rabbitfishes are not as pugnacious as their surgeonfish cousins. However, in some cases, they will exhibit intra- and interspecific aggression. This is especially true if the rabbitfish is placed in a tank and allowed to settle in before a conspecific or congener is introduced. In order to reduce the likelihood of aggressive interactions, it is prudent to add all the rabbitfishes you intend to keep in the aquarium at once (after they have all been quarantined, of course). If you are unable to place all siganids in the tank simultaneously, introduce the largest individuals and the potentially most aggressive species last. Also, the less similar the rabbitfishes are, the more likely they will tolerate the presence of a congener. Of course, conspecifics are more likely to fight. That said, on some occasions a belligerent rabbitfish may harass a newly added relative for a day or two and then begin to ignore the “intruder” or even start swimming about with the new fish as if they were a pair (even if they are two different species). The pencil-streaked rabbitfish (S. doliatus) is a handsome species that is regularly available. This species is similar to the virgate rabbitfish (S. virgatus), but it has alternating blue and yellow bars on the side of the body behind the dark shoulder band, while the virgate rabbitfish has blue spots, rather than slender bars. Siganus doliatus reaches about 10 inches, while S. virgatus gets a couple inches longer. Small juveniles of these species are usually found in shallow sea grass beds, with scattered coral heads. The virgate rabbitfish is more often encountered in turbid waters around rocky reefs and in estuaries — in fact, juveniles will even enter fresh water. Adult S. doliatus tend to occur on clearer reefs and often associate with large stands of staghorn coral (Acropora spp.). Both S. doliatus and S. virgatus are fairly hardy rabbitfish that will do best if kept in a tank with plenty of swimming room and non- to moderately aggressive tankmates. To ensure acclimation, introduce either species before any fish that is likely to harass it. Keep only one, or keep a pair of the pencil-streaked or virgate rabbitfish per tank. Adult pair members may behave aggressively toward similar-looking species. A tank of 100 gallons would be large enough for adults of both species. Larger individuals may also eat small delicate shrimps (e.g., small anemone shrimps; e.g., Periclimenes spp.). However, they rarely bother ornamental crustaceans. An occasional specimen may also pick at large-polyped stony corals, corallimorpharians (mushroom anemones) or tridacnid clam mantles. Many of the rabbitfishes form long-term pair bonds, which is relatively rare in reef fish. These species form pairs at a relatively small size (usually around 3 inches in length). The pair usually stays very close to one another, never straying more than 3 or 4 feet apart. The young pair spends most of its time in more protected, shallow reef habitats, such as lagoons, back reefs or reef flats. The pair may join mixed feeding groups that might include other siganids and parrotfishes. As they grow, rabbitfish pairs begin to move into more exposed reef areas or lagoon patch reefs. At a length of around 7 inches, many of the rabbitfishes will have a fairly well-defined home range. Pairs may chase off conspecific pairs, suggesting territoriality.
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