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What Is a Rabbitfish?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of species of rabbitfish, all belonging to the Siganidae family. Its face, which looks like a rabbit’s due to a small mouth and large eyes, is one of its distinguishing features. All species have a diet that mainly consists of algae, which is why the small mouth evolved. The fish are found in shallow regions of water in the Mediterranean and Pacific oceans. As a group, the fish are not recommended for beginner aquarium owners due to their poisonous spines.

As the name suggests, all species have a face that resembles a rabbit. The fish grow to approximately 16 inches (40 cm) in length, although this depends on the specific species. All types have noticeably large eyes and are generally shy, although the fins are poisonous. If a human is pricked by the spines, it is not usually life threatening, but the poison can cause serious discomfort. This is one of the main reasons why rabbitfish should only be kept in aquariums by experienced owners.

In the wild, rabbitfish mainly eat algae. It is for this reason that the mouths appear to be “rabbit-like,” because they have adapted to “grazing” this small type of food. If the fish are kept in captivity, they must be fed vegetables on a daily basis along with regular pellet fish food. If a rabbitfish is not fed vegetables, it is likely to be unhealthy.

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The habitat of a rabbitfish also depends on the species. Some species, for example, live in schools in open areas of water. Others inhabit coral reefs. The fish are found in waters ranging from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, and are often seen in shallow areas of water. All species are diurnal, which means that they are awake during the day and sleep at night.

The exact number of different species is not conclusively known. Some species interbreed, and there is disagreement about whether they should be classified as a single species. Examples include the Masked Spinefoot, Magnificent Rabbitfish, and Blotched Foxface.

If an aquarium owner wants to keep rabbitfish in captivity, it’s important to put the fish in the proper environment. The fish are generally peaceful, although it is usually not a good idea to put more than one in the same tank. Special care should be taken when cleaning the tank; this is when the fish is most likely to get scared and use its poison spines.

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