Ryan Photographic - Siganidae - Rabbitfishes


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Family Siganidae

There are 25 species of rabbitfishes in 2 genera (FishBase). The biggest species grow to around 40 cm. Rabbitfishes are all diurnal algal feeders and play an important part in the ecology of coral reefs and seagrass beds. Their constant grazing, often in large schools, prevents coral from becoming overgrown with algae. A few species feed on benthic organisms such as sponges and seasquirts.

They are popular foodfishes but their possession of venomous spines make them difficult to handle. The venom glands lie in grooves on either side of the spines. While not as painful or longlasting as Scorpaenid stings, care should be taken in handling rabbitfish.

Rabbitfishes undergo dramatic color changes at night with a disruptive pattern of dark bars, zig-zags and blotches. They usually sleeep on their side on the bottom. I once encountered a group of six in coral rubble while night-diving in Raja Ampat. I use the word sleep advisedly as rabbitfishes show no intial reaction to lights and take several seconds to respond. A photo of this group is below.

Most rabbitfish lay eggs on the bottom but a few, most notably the forktail rabbitfish produce pelagic eggs. The eggs and larvae are presumably able to disperse over large distances which may explain the wide distribution of this species.

 

Siganus argenteus Forktail rabbitfish

Siganus argenteus Forktail rabbitfish

FISH 4428 Siganus argenteus, Forktail rabbitfish, Taveuni, Fiji.

Siganus argenteus, night time coloration

FISH 3839 Siganus argenteus Forktail rabbitfish night, time coloration, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Siganus argenteus Forktail rabbitfish group, night time coloration, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat, West Papua

FISH 3839 Siganus argenteus Forktail rabbitfish group, night time coloration, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat, West Papua.

Siganus corallinus Coral rabbitfish

Siganus corallinus Coral rabbitfish, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

FISH 7525 Siganus corallinus Coral rabbitfish, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Siganus corallinus Coral rabbitfish Raja Ampat

FISH 0005 Siganus corallinus Coral rabbitfish Raja Ampat.

Siganus guttatus Golden rabbitfiish

Siganus guttatus, Golden rabbitfiish, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat .

FISH 7221 Siganus guttatus, Golden rabbitfiish, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Siganus puellus Masked rabbitfish

Siganus puellus Masked rabbitfish Raja Ampat

FISH 6929 Siganus puellus, Masked rabbitfish, Raja Ampat, West Papua.

Siganus puellus Masked rabbitfish Raja Ampat I

FISH 0368 Siganus puellus Masked rabbitfish Raja Ampat.

Siganus uspi Bicolor rabbitfish

Siganus uspi Bicolor rabbitfish, named after the University of the South Pacific (USP), found in Tonga and Fiji. Photographed Kadavu, Fiji, 2007.

Siganus vulpinus Foxface rabbitfish

Siganus vulpinus Foxface rabbitfish Raja Ampat

FISH 0378 Siganus vulpinus Foxface rabbitfish Raja Ampat.

 

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