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FAQs about Rabbitfish Behavior

Related Articles: Rabbitfishes

Related FAQs:  Siganids 1,   Siganids 2, Rabbitfish Identification, Rabbitfish Compatibility, Rabbitfish Selection, Rabbitfish Systems, Rabbitfish Feeding, Rabbitfish Disease, Rabbitfish Reproduction,

Chaetodon ulietensis Cuvier 1831, the Pacific Double Saddleback Butterflyfish. Other, even usually peaceful fish species can alter the behavior of Siganids in captivity.

One Spot Foxface Rabbitfish; color morphs, morphing      4/24/14
I have looked everywhere trying to find out more about my fish. I have had him about four months and he has been a model citizen. I know that these fish change colors and mine has shown a more mottled look when he was first introduced into the tank. The one I have, I am wondering, is this a female, are there notable differences between males and females?
<Not chromatic (nor physical, external as far as I'm aware re any Siganid)>
The back is more black than I have seen and the yellow seems more subdued than what appears in pictures. He/she eats well, actually a pig, eats out of my hand, he/she isn't picked on, the largest fish in my tank. It is a very pretty fish but I am curious. Thanks
<Not surprising to find Rabbits changing color, markings... with state of health, apparent emotion... There is a wide range of markings for this species over its range as well. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

Rabbit fish getting aggressive with puffer fish. Beh. chg. w/ the addn. of Hippolytid cleaner    7/4/13
Hello WWM crew,
I have a 110 gallon tank with a 20 gallon refugium set up.  Nitrates nitrites and ammonia are not detectable.  Ph 8.4, dKh12 specific gravity is 1.023, I have an Eshopps skimmer, a Fluval 405 canister filter that has carbon and PhosBan media in it that is changed out on a regular basis .  I do  a 15 gallon water change once a week.
The tank has been up and running for 3 years.  The inhabitants of the tank are a scribbled rabbit fish that is about 6 inches in size and a porcupine puffer about the same size.  Both are about 3 years old.  I am saving for a bigger tank.  I have 3 mushroom corals and a Kenya tree coral. I have lots of live rock and plenty of hiding holes for the fish. All are doing well.
My question is this, about a month ago I added a skunk cleaner shrimp knowing full well he may end up a meal for my puffer.
 Since adding him Roger my Rabbit fish has become increasingly aggressive to Kirby the Puffer fish.  I believe he even invenomated him once on his back with how my puffer was swimming around the tank after incident, it was a bit frightening.  The puffer was a little lethargic after the incident. He is doing well now with no apparent after effects. It appears as if Roger is protecting the skunk shrimp. 
<Does happen... recognized as a help... cleaner>
If my puffer ventures near the shrimps hiding area while the tank lights are on  Roger is over there popping his spines at him and trying to nail him.  He will also block the puffer from getting near the shrimp with his body. He will then chase the puffer away from the area fins popping all the way.
Roger has also started to release small clouds of venom from his spines every once in awhile, he will then turn around and take them into his mouth and blow them in the direction of the puffer if he is nearby.  This behavior has happened 4 or 5 times now so I know it is not a one time thing.  However this is a new behavior since I added the shrimp.  I don't recall seeing this behavior before the shrimp was added.
When the moon lights come on in the tank and Roger is sleeping.  The puffer goes over and is cleaned by the shrimp.  I think there is a truce between the two.  The puffer will open his mouth and the shrimp cleans it for him.
<Ah yes>
Should I be setting up a separate tank for one of them? 
<Mmm, no; likely all will settle down...>
Or should I be getting a second cleaner shrimp since it would be harder for Roger to protect two shrimp at one time?  Or should I be adding another small fish so not all the attention or rather aggression is directed at Kirby?  They have shared the same tank for around 3 years.   The rabbit fish has never shown any aggression until now.   Do you think that the aggression is due to the addition of the shrimp or something else?
<Likely the shrimp>
  Do you thing Kirby would
be put in danger if he gets invenomated multiple times by Roger the Rabbit fish?
<Might die as a consequence if jabbed but good>
Any insight you could offer would be appreciated.   Thanks again for an amazing site.   I find myself reading on this site for hours sometimes.  
I have learned a ton and it has made me a better fish keeper.
<I'd leave all as is for now; keep planning on the new, larger system. Bob Fenner>

Successfully Relocating A Rabbit fish/Foxface Behavior 4/9/10
Hi Crew!
<Hello Danielle>
I am moving my one spot Foxface into a larger tank. Do you think I can do that successfully without it releasing venom into the water and killing the other fish?
<Although the dorsal spines <<And anal and pectoral>> can and do easily puncture unwary aquarists hands, they do not release any harmful toxins/venom into the water.
James (Salty Dog)>

Foxface... beh.    3/17/10
Hi there, Does anyone know why my Foxface is a dark brown on his top half?
Should I worry about it?
<... Most likely stress/coloration... You should worry. Summat is wrong here... likely "other livestock wise", if not other aspect/s of the environment. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/rbtfshbehfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Do note, Siganids are venomous. Bob Fenner> 

Foxface seems stressed -- 01/17/10
135 gallon w/ "Calfo" overflow box
20 gallon refugium
20 gallon sump
Octopus skimmer
Mag 9.5 return pump
2 distinct rock areas with lots of hiding places
lots of open swimming room
1 yellow tang 5"
1 flame angel 3"
1 ocellaris clownfish 3"
4 yellow tail damsel 1.5 - 2"
I introduced a 4" Foxface Rabbitfish about 2 weeks ago. The fish hadn't been at the pet store as long as I would have liked, but it's behavior seemed fine and it was eating. Knowing them to be generally hardy I went ahead and purchased the fish. There was some Tang/Foxface interaction, mostly the yellow tang attempting to intimidate the Foxface, no noteworthy pursuit of the Foxface by the Tang. The Foxface had no qualms about pushing the Tang aside at the algae clip, so I felt everything was likely ok. When I purchased the Foxface it had a dark 'splotchy' band from it's black dot to it's face. Having kept this species before I realized this was just a stress response and nothing to worry about.
<Yes and yes generally>
However, the dark band has not gone away. In fact, it has never gone away which in my experience with the species is unusual. It looks more like color change as opposed to bruising or physical damage. The Tang and the Foxface still have minor altercations, but I'm not convinced it is sufficient to be causing a problem. I haven't done an actual water test, but I keep lots of LPS and soft coral which all seem in perfect health, additionally the other fish are showing no signs of stress or problems. Any other thoughts on what would cause the Foxface to constantly have this dark band?
<It is stressed, likely by the Zebrasoma's presence, actions... only time can/will tell whether they "settle in together"... Placing other fish  livestock may help to disperse some of this aggression>
The Foxface does seem to go to the cleaner shrimps 'station' more frequently than the others, so perhaps some type of parasite?
<Or not>
Thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to what you think.
<If there is no apparent damage, from spines, tangs... and both fishes are feeding, I'd wait this situation out. If it escalates, catching, holding the Yellow Tang in a plastic floating colander for a few days may solve this issue, at least temporarily. Bob Fenner>

Foxface fish rubbed his snout 1/11/10
Good morning, <Good afternoon Jeff>
My question relates to the Foxface fish and I couldn't find an answer to this anywhere. <ok> I currently have a 3" blue hippo tang, 3" Foxface fish, 3 blue/green Chromis, a Sixline wrasse and 2 ocellaris clowns in a 75 gallon <crowded>. I keep the temperature at 77 degrees, Nitrite=0, Ammonia=0, Nitrates usually between 5-10 (have been steadily decreasing since putting in the DSB), Salinity = 1.025 and PH 8.4 <all good so far>. I have a 4" DSB and pretty strong current and also 80 lbs of live rock. Anyways, all my other fish seem to be fine. I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary but the Foxface fish spends a lot of his time swimming up and down the glass on the side of the tank. <one of two possible reasons I can think of> He started doing it all of a sudden and I didn't think too much of it at first but when I was looking at him yesterday it looks like he's worn his snout away on the glass because his snout used to be black and now it's white and I can see his teeth at the front <this is worrying>. He's still eating like he was before <a good sign>, he loves Nori and eats it like crazy as well as Mysis shrimp and new life <Spectrum?> marine pellets. I soak all their food in Zoë and garlic <an excellent, varied diet overall>. I was going to put him in my quarantine tank but figured he would most likely continue to rub it in there so he might be better in the display <not necessarily>. I tried covering the one side of the tank because I thought maybe it was the way the light was coming in as he doesn't do it on the other side which is up against the wall but this didn't help. If there is anything you can recommend it would be greatly appreciated. <Ok. Fishes usually do this when they can see their reflection in the glass. This is due to the lighting/ set up in the room itself that presents the fish with a reflection. Have you made any changes in the room's decor or arrangement recently that co-incided with this behavior? If not, then I would suggest moving either the Foxface, or the hippo tang and see if that makes a difference, because psychologically these fishes will be crowded in this setting. I would not recommend putting either of these fish into a 75 gallon tank, but you have both and it's quite possible this is your problem, especially since these fishes would also occupy similar niches in the wild. The good news is, it seems you are taking good care of your fishes, and so if you can work out why the fish is doing this then he should recover with your continued efforts>. I just picked up Bob's book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist <Is a nice book> and I'm reading my way through it but it seems I can't learn fast enough <You are on the right path, reading and learning are pre-requisites for success in this hobby, keep at it!> Thanks, Jeff <Simon>

Re: Foxface fish rubbed his snout -- 01/12/2010
<Hello Jeff>
I appreciate the quick response. <no problem!> I wasn't aware that I was overcrowding the
tank. I knew that when they grew more I would need to get a bigger tank but in talking to different people and reading I thought I was fine <these fishes will be crowded now IMO, psychologically and physically they need 'space' and room to grow>. If I were to choose to keep one of the two which would you say is better suited for my tank? <The Rabbitfish is far more suitable than the Tang> Or would you recommend finding both a different home? <Ultimately yes, but definitely the Tang> Also I haven't made any other changes to the décor or lighting of the room but they both swim around together when the Foxface isn't swimming up and down the glass so I thought they were pals <Can mean either actually, depends on 'how they do it', but this 'hanging out together' behavior is common with Siganids, and is usually ok>. I just realized though that I changed the lighting on the tank. Would that pose a problem? <Could, yes> I switched from an old standard fluorescent canopy to a T5 right around the time the problem started. <Do you believe in co-incidences?> I can't believe I didn't think of that earlier. I now have the moonlights, 2x 39W T5 High Output Daylight 12000K, 2x 39W T5 High Output Actinic Blue. Is there something I can do to get him used to the lighting or would this even be part of the problem? <If he is seeing his reflection, then algae growth will prevent this in time, so don't clean the glass there for a start. I would play around with the lights a bit - turn them off and monitor him for a few hours, for example, try different combinations and see if it is a particular set that changes his behavior. You could also try covering the side of the tank in question with some paper of differing colours, even patterns (try wrapping paper) to see if this has any effect>. Thanks, Jeff <Do let us know the outcome Jeff. Simon>.

Foxface Rabbit Fish, beh.    1/3/10
Well here is one of the more weird questions for the New Year...... I have a Foxface Rabbit fish - better known as "Grouchy" - today a friend of mine and her husband came over and Jason was standing by the tank just looking -
Grouchy swam by and then as quick as he could turned black and got in an area where he could hide and he had his fins on his back straight up watching every move Jason made. My husband said there is no way Grouchy could have known Jason was not anyone he had seen before. BUT when Jason left - Grouchy went back to normal - is it possible Grouchy did not know Jason and went into the defense mode?
<I do think so>
I say Grouchy wasn't happy there was a new person looking at him. A steak dinner is riding on this...
<Medium well for me>
Cecilia Lester
<Welcome. BobF>

Foxface Rabbitfish - Bite, not Sting? -- 09/19/09
Bob, et al,
<Good morrow>
Thanks for the help over the past several months, and for the wealth of info on the website. In the past week, I've decided to let my Foxface Rabbitfish get a little closer during the feeding of sinking pellets (I
know you think you know where this is headed, but no I didn't get stung, ha). In the past two days, I've finally let him come up to my hand and take the food from there. He bites... It's a little 3/16" slit he makes
on my fingertip. Now, I certainly know they are poisonous in their fins, but my fingertip is a little "tingly" around these 5 nips - and I wondered if it's just the little "ouch" of a couple of fish bites, or if there is any toxin in their bite?
<Don't think so... but not a good idea to have open cuts in our tanks>
Granted, he's not going to get fed this way much longer because I need to type with that finger, but thought it was interesting - given all you ever read about are the sting from their dorsal and anal fins.
Incidentally, my Tomini Tang and Pacific Blue Tang also eat from my hand, but don't produce the same slits on my fingertip (or any bites), and certainly no tingling. His fin is not getting me, it is certainly his bite, and is also very uniform in shape/size.
Thanks in advance,
Jon Hoover
<Thank you for sharing Jon. Bob Fenner>

Siganid tummy appearance  8/1/09
I have a Foxface Rabbitfish who is about 3 to 4 inches long. It is swimming and eating normally. I would say that it is eating a lot. I give it 2 to 3 algae sheets that are about 2"x1" in dimensions in a day.
<Not too much... there isn't much food value here>
On top of that it eats whatever I feed my other fishes. Having said that, it does not look like it is starving, through out the day it has a very fat stomach from all it eats but the stomach does not look smooth. It looks bumpy.
<Ahh, no worries... this "bumpiness" is natural... Other Acanthuroids (e.g. Surgeonfishes) likewise ingest sand, utilize this matter in digestion. No problem>
Sort of like seeing the shape of the fishes organs full of food and waste but it's mass is starving. This is only in the stomach area. The rest of the Foxface's body is fine. Again, it's stomach is not sunken but it is bumpy looking as opposed to smooth. What could this be? Can it be treated? If so, how?
Thank You, Rangel
<Not to worry Rangel. Bob Fenner>

Re: Siganid tummy appearance    8/3/09
Well, I truly appreciate you responding. I'm relieved now. Could you give me some more info? Is this normal? Does it go away? Or why is it like that?
<Yes; is, not really... and from ingesting substrates... akin to the "crop" in some birds... Bob Fenner>

Foxface question, beh., human hazards  -- 03/07/09 I had a Foxface, along with a hippo and dwarf angel in a 90 gallon for about 2 years. The Foxface was always scared of me, and would dive for cover when I came near, and especially when I worked in the tank. But for the last 3 weeks or so, for some reason he has become very, maybe too, bold. He deliberately comes to my hand being in the tank, and I have seen his spines up a couple of times, at which time I take my hand out right away. Is this normal Foxface behavior? <Can be... Siganids can be territorial... and our systems are smaller by far than the space they deem theirs... and you are right to be careful here> He is about 6 inches long now, and being his disposition has changed so suddenly, I was wondering if this is dangerous. I actually felt safer when he was scared of me. Thanks, Eddie <Can be dangerous... this fish appears to be feeling threatened by your hand... do you have a yellow glove on? I would work with someone else helping you... with a good sized net in their hand... when you have your body in this system. Bob Fenner>

Gold-Spotted Rabbitfish, beh., fdg., sys...  -- 03/07/09 Hey guys! My name is Brent and despite a rocky start (I've been a fresh water fish keeper for years and got cocky with marine) I've managed to backlog my studies and make up for a general ignorance of the hobby. Many an insomnia ridden night have been spent pouring through your archives. And because I've noticed that you always prefer figures and number... <Yes... more concrete responses require them> I have an 80 gallon corner tank. 4 inches of live sand, 55 lbs live rock. external Ren Filstar XP2. Nitrate, nitrite and ammonia are always safe *read zero*. Ph 8.2. 80 degrees. SG 1.02-1.021. I have a 1 3/4 inch false percula. 2 green chromis. <Better in small, odd numbers...> 2 striped damsels. (who I have learned are not right for this tank. one is missing an eye and the other a fin) 5 inch Gold Spotted Rabbitfish. 2 CC starfish. <Not easily kept> I have a few questions. If I simply failed to find these specifics, I will apologize ahead of time. I have read up on the livestock and set-up but I had some fairly specific *and hopefully not TOO foolish* questions. The Rabbitfish has always been very shy (which I understand is normal) but has come out of his "shell" recently with the addition of 38 lbs of live rock and the necessity of feeding mysis shrimp. (I have a clown who won't eat anything else. I tried the expensive flakes, pellets, worms, etc) I understand he needs more vegetable components in his diet. I have a significant (but not overwhelming) brown algae growth and the mix from the pet store is omnivorous. Is there anything I should be adding to make sure he gets enough veggies? <Mmm, macro-algal culture here... or better, here and in a tied-in refugium would be great> Specifically, are the high end omnivorous "blend "chips enough or should I add something else? He's getting plenty of meat. :) <You mention "pellets"... have you tried "Spectrum"... mixing this in with the Mysis?> I've read between 1/2 to 2 lbs live rock per gallon. Is there a more specific number I should be shooting for with these fish? <Mmm, no> Most importantly, with 80 gallons and these fish, is 55 enough? <Not really for a Siganid/Rabbitfish> I've read here that feeding starfish once a week is a good idea (not what the shop had to say. (Sadly we have one saltwater shop in town and it's a chain store.) Krill have been recommended. Stupid question. I read that putting them on top of the food is the way to go. <Or the food next... maybe twice a week... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm> (These are my newest additions, 4 days ago) Do I physically pick them up and set them on it or do I try to drop it near them? <The latter again. See the above citation... and the links listed at the top re CC stars> I've tried the latter and they ignored it but I'm worried about moving them. My reading shows that they don't do well with movement. Is that just their intolerance of changes in conditions or is being moved inside a system just as bad? <Just being stressed by being touched period> And of course if there are any other glaring errors, I'd be happy to have my mistakes pointed out. Thanks you! Brent <Thank you for writing, sharing so well Brent. Keep learning, moving forward... Bob Fenner>

Rabbitfish behavior question   1/28/09 Hi y'all - I've had a Siganus doliatus Rabbitfish in my aquarium for about a year. He's about 3.5-4" in length, eats well, swims athletically, and is very sociable and responsive to me when I am near the aquarium. He is indisputably the dominant fish in the tank when it comes to feeding time, but there is no physical aggression between him and his tankmates (2 Banggai cardinals, 2 clowns, and a royal gramma). He occasionally swims vertically to the surface and appears to "sip" air. Is this normal behavior and, if so, what is the explanation for it? <Mmm, adventitious behavior mostly. Siganids do orient themselves thus at times> My tank is open-topped, the circulation is vigorous (600 gph from an Eheim 1260 return and 1700 gph from a Tunze Turbelle Stream 2 in the display), and I run an AquaC EV-120. Alkalinity is 8-9 dKH, pH ranges from 8.0 to 8.2, the temperature ranges from 79-81 degrees, and salinity is 1.025. Thanks! Ed
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>  

Help with my Rabbit Fish!   8/29/08 Sorry about the picture, but he is either in the rocks or under the overflow. And of course the batteries are almost dead and the kids have used all the spare batteries for who knows what. <Have tried "spiffing up"> Any way, my rabbit stopped eating last weekend and was pretty much hid all day long. I left for a 4 day business trip thinking he would be gone by now but he is still around but looks like 2 face from batman now. Half real dark and the other normal. He only picks at any food in the tank. I would appreciate any help here. Doug <Something is severely stressing this Siganid... Most likely something to do with the system, water quality, tankmate/s... You've provided no information re.. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/rabbitfi.htm and the linked files above. If you can't discern the source of the stress, I strongly encourage moving this fish to another system, stat. Do take care in moving as these fishes are venomous. Bob Fenner>

Siganus doliatus with a tick?  8/10/08 Good morning crew! A "tick" is the best way to describe this strange behavior of our Scribbled rabbitfish. We have had him for a week and was introduced directly into the display. Bob F in a post on WWM said this was a good idea with this fish specie as did Mark Martin from Blue Zoo (where we got him). <Still my stance> Anyway what this fish does when he comes out of the rock work is flick his dorsal and pelvic fins for a split second at roughly one second intervals. At first I thought this was some sort of threat to other fish coming too close, but he does it regardless of where the other fish are in relation to him. Also I have seen him hold those fins erect when other fish come too close and this is not the same behavior. To further complicate the diagnosis he doesn't always do it and sprints for the rock work if you try to get a closer look. <Not atypical behavior> I have manage to observe him up close by using a mirror (he didn't notice me) and his gill rate seems unlabored and no quicker than my other fish. No apparent spots or abrasions. Should I worry or name him "Goofy", lol? Thanks Ed <And I'll be "Sleepy"... I do think this fish will be fine in time. Some specimens, not just of Siganids, have a hard time, adjusting to small, captive worlds. Bob Fenner>

Rabbitfish - Why do some have that cloudy green eye?  1/14/08 I've been searching for some time for an answer, and can't find it anywhere. I finally had to break down and bother those who are never stumped. Thank you for being that source. <Welcome> I used to have a Foxface (S. unimaculatus) that had a metallic green, cloudy eye. Something like a puffer or anthias. I would like another, and have asked my LFS to keep an eye out for one (no pun intended). We're in southern California, so he visits all the wholesalers personally, every week. He hasn't seen one Foxface with the cloudy eye in the several hundred Foxfaces he's seen while there. Do we know why some have that feature? Is it regional? A part of maturation? Random genetics? As always, your help is appreciated more than you know. - Jason <Mostly an artifact of capture... net damage, high bacteria counts in shipping, ammonia burn... and the natural tapetum lucidum of Siganids. BobF>

Rabbitfish question, handling  12/15/2007 Hello. I've got a one-spot Foxface Rabbitfish and we've had it for some time now. It's doing well and growing like crazy. We bought him in town and nobody told me that the spines could be dangerous. <Oh yes> Needless to say, we moved him between 3 tanks now and didn't know. I held him in my hand at one point and even helped him get his gills going in the new tank when the smaller tank he had been raised in crashed. (We had numerous newbie fish disasters throughout the year, but everything is a+ stable now). I am concerned after finding out that they are venomous, quite by accident, because nobody took the time to tell us, knowing we were newbies. I've searched the site thoroughly and read the Rabbitfish FAQs, and I see that it mentions that they have a painful sting and are venomous. It does not, however, tell you how venomous they are (from what I saw, but I may have missed it somewhere) or if they are actually fatal, such as the lionfish can be. <Somewhat less than Pteroines... more than bees... Can be dangerous to folks who have aversion to proteinaceous stings> I am concerned, needless to say, because he's grown to about six inches long and he's quite the boss of the big tank, with the exception of a few of our tangs, who rule the roost. Thank you <I too have hand-handled many Siganids... one just needs to be careful to keep their hands away from the spiny (anterior) portions of their dorsal and anal fins... Bob Fenner>

Odd fish behavior... Frantic Rabbitfish  -- 09/29/07 I have a 75 gallon reef tank with a 20 gallon sump/refugium which has been going for about a year now. It is stocked with a yellow tang, a Foxface Rabbitfish, <Which species?> a ocellaris clownfish, a four stripe damsel, and a dwarf lionfish. All of these fish have been in the tank for several months with the exception of the Foxface who was added about 4 weeks ago. Yesterday, I noticed that their behavior seemed odd, they were swimming around almost frantically and acting distressed. <... likely reacting to its own reflection... which you may well not be able to see through the outside.> The color was looking mildly faded on the Foxface but not too bad. Since all the invertebrates were doing well I doubted a water quality issue, but went ahead and ran the tests anyway, and came up with no detectable ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. There have been no changes to  the tank in months with the exception of adding the Foxface. Today the behavior is the same: swimming frantically back and forth, not at the surface and not gasping, just behaving frantically. All the fish eat and the coral do not seem to be distressed. Any thoughts on what could be causing this behavior and should I worry about it? <Mostly the reflection... but this is a small volume for a Siganid...> The tank is open-topped, is it possible that something foreign got in the water and is causing this effect on the fish without effecting the coral? Thank you very much and I look forward to reading your response. <Try covering one end of the tank exterior with dark paper... Bob Fenner>

Re: odd fish behavior  9/30/07 Thanks for the response! In reply, I have had the back of the tank covered with a black fabric since the tank was started up, <Mmm, I would still try covering a side... internal reflections are bounced off of these> and there are many places for the fish to hide in the tank to feel secure. <Well... actually Siganids range over areas of tens of square metres...> My concern with their frantic behavior is that it is a dramatic change from their normal behavior. The tank walls are regularly cleaned so the reflectiveness should be relatively constant, so why the sudden change in behavior? <The sun transiting on the azimuth... likely> To further illustrate, the fish previously would see me approach and swim up the front of the tank and eat out of my hand. Now they swim away and hide and when watched from across the room they will continue to swim in fast bursts frantically in and out of the rocks. <Mmm, does seem bizarre... Has something else frightened them I wonder? Like the lights being suddenly turned on when it is very dark outside> The Foxface is also frequently losing color and is rarely as vibrant as he should be. I would assume that if the dwarf lionfish had stung any of them they would not survive. <Actually... this may well "be it"> When the Foxface was first introduced the yellow tang had initially established dominance over him, is it possible that now that the Foxface is accustomed to his environment he is making an attempt at establishing dominance over the tang? <Also a very real possibility> The tang and the Foxface seem more frantic than the clownfish and the damsel, so could that be a possible cause? <Yes> Mainly what I want to know is should I do something? <Yes... if it were me, and this behavior persisted, I would move, trade out one of the Acanthuroids> As of now I'm monitoring the situation but have done nothing to correct it and this is the third day with no change. Any recommendations? Thanks again very much. <A bigger tank or removing the tang or rabbit. Bob Fenner>

Foxface- losing color   12/14/06 I recently added a Foxface to my aquarium after 3 weeks of quarantine.  He is my first fish in an aquarium that finished cycling about a month ago.  While in quarantine, his colors remained nice and clear, bright yellow on his body.   After adding him to the display tank, his colors remained vivid for the first few days, but he has since started to look very pale whenever the lights come on in the aquarium.   <Mmm, natural to an extent... like many reef fishes... have a "night-time" coloration, pattern... Thought to be of camouflage value.> Where his body was once yellow, he is now showing a good bit of  white. <Oh! The change/ing is persistent?> When the aquarium is lit by only a light being on inside the room, his colors appears to be normal.  His color changes, and sometimes he looks perfectly normal, but this can change very quickly- as I know that foxfaces can do.  But he has never before displayed this pale coloration on his body during the daytime, which makes me think something is possibly wrong. <Yes... perhaps something, someone bothering this fish...> He is eating very well, I have some algae growing in the tank and he eats this constantly. <A good sign> One reason I purchased this fish was for their algae consumption, I do have some algae growth on my live rock- not sure if it is filamentous diatom or green hair, it is brown in color and very wispy fine.  I also feed him some fish pellets as well as frozen packaged food that has small compartments of different meals, so he can eat something different every day.  So far, I haven't found anything he won't eat.  Could something be missing from his diet that is causing his color change? <Mmm, a possibility, yes> Could the algae growth be consuming too much oxygen from the tank?   <Interesting speculation... doubtful though, if this tank is "large enough" (at least 75 gallons), circulated, filtered....> All his other looks and behavior appear to be normal, so I'm really at a loss for his not having what was once was his vivid color patterning.  My water parameters, (last checked about 3 days ago) were 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and the lowest possible number for nitrates on my test kit.  I plan to recheck all of these numbers again tonight.  Can you provide any information that might help me out here, I really like this fish and want to provide him with the best care possible. <Need to know the other tankmates present, how much LR you have... can this fish get "away", out of the light?>   I want to mention again, this white coloration is not always present, but seems to be his preferred coloration more often as the days go by.   Thanks for all your help and wisdom. Kevin <And this fish may still be just "settling in". Bob Fenner>

Re: Foxface- losing color   12/15/06 Bob- thanks for your input concerning the color changes in my Foxface.  To answer your question concerning the other tanks inhabitants, this is the first fish I have added.  Also, you were saying the algae growth shouldn't be a problem if the tank is large enough, this is a 215G aquarium.  Since writing to you concerning my Foxface, I have since established a better pattern to his turning this white color.  It seems as though it is not the lights coming on that causes him to lose his pigmentation, but instead it is my presence! <Ahhh!> When I approach the aquarium, which is usually about when the lights come on since this is when I feed him in the morning, he turns almost a pure white with no trace of yellow hardly left, even his dark spot fades to a dull gray.  He does not seem stressed or scared by me, in fact quite the opposite, he now approaches the glass when I appear where as he used to hide (but stayed yellow) .  So it this his way of showing excitement at getting ready to be fed? <Possibly both, neither... "just" stress period> I can't imagine any other thing.  As soon as I leave the tank and stand some distance away he turns back to his yellow.  This is kind of still troubling to me, as I have this very pretty fish who is going to turn into Casper the friendly fish every time I want to see him.  At night he goes into his usual camouflage brown pattern, but this look is during the daytime hours and he looks albino!  At least if he is not going to be the prettiest Foxface for someone to view, he will for sure be quite a conversation piece for my aquarium!   Have you ever heard of such?  Thanks so much for your time and thoughts. Kevin      <Mmm, very likely in time this fish will "stay" about the same colour when folks approach the tank... a bit of B.F. Skinner conditioning... Bob Fenner> Foxface Envenomation (Ouch!) - 10/25/06 Two weeks ago, I was stung by 3 of my Foxface Lo's dorsal fins on the inside of my wrist, for two hours the pain was quite intense. <<Indeed...yikes!>> It was suggested that I soak the wrist in as hot a water as I could handle for at least 1-2 hours -which I did. <<Yes, it is believed the high temperature breaks down the proteins comprising the venom>> It seemed to have solved the problem the three marks almost disappeared in a week. <<Ah good>> Then this week the marks began to turn red and turned into 3 small reddish blisterish looking marks and the skin area around them is slightly red around now as well. <<Mmm...>> I am not sure if this is the type of questions you can answer but here it is.  My question too you, is this - Have you heard or read of any unusual side effects from the Foxface lo venom? <<Have heard the wounds can be slow to heal, with secondary infection a reality.  But as with bee stings/other envenomations, some individuals will react more severely or less severely to the toxin than the "average" person>> Could this just be part of the process of the venom leaving the body? <<I think this is a "secondary infection">> I would appreciate any input you may have. Thank you, Rhonda McAskill <<Were this I, I would have these wounds checked/treated by a doctor.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Scared Foxface  10/26/06 Howdy Crew, <Robert> As a first time e-mailer, I would like to thank you so very much for your informative website. It has saved my Fish, Tank and Wallet many times over. <Glad to read> My question today is about my Foxface that I have had for about a month. My lighting setup is a dual 4ft fluor (one white and one blue) and a blue moonlight. These lights switch at the end of the day cycle as follows; moonlight on, white fluor off, blue fluor off. When my White fluor switches off my Foxface goes crazy, he darts around for a few seconds then hides in the rock. <Mmmm, yes> He loses all of his colour (Due to the fright) and sits there startled with his mouth wide open. My guess is this is not very good for him. Do you have any ideas how I can prevent this? <A larger system, more cover to hide in... a dimmer mechanism to phase light in/out more gradually> Is there something out there that I can use to dim these lights slowly? Or will the Foxface just grow out of it? <Do check with Champion Lighting, MarineDepot (.coms)... re such gear... Siganids need much larger quarters... Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance, Regards, Robert

Re: Foxface Rabbitfish seems darker than at pet shop...  - 09/14/06 I figured it out; I had a juvenile Koran Angel that had to go; now it's just him and two False Perc's. He's nice and bright today! <Ahh! Thank you for this update. BobF> Fish anesthetization in the aquarium  9/9/06 Dear Crew, I have done a fair amount of research on the anesthetization of fish.   I give anesthesia (human) for a living so I understand the chemistry and pharmacology of the agents available. <Ah, good> I need to get a Magnificent Foxface Rabbitfish out of my 300 g. saltwater aquarium. I, and my wife, and my son (who works for the LFS) have tried many times to capture this fish, I have tried to use the bottle trap a number of times... suffice to say that because of the design of the tank and the layout of the live rock (many, many, many hiding places) I have decided to begin researching anesthetizing, or at least sedating the fish just enough so that I can net it, and get it back to the LFS. They pointed me to MS-222, and I have done further research into tertiary amyl alcohol and other agents also including Carbon Dioxide. <Mmm, I would use none of these in an established aquarium. And have used all of these...> All the info I have found so far describes the use of the agent with the fish already in an isolated container. Obviously if I had the fish in an isolated container, I wouldn't have a problem, so what I would like is your view of using some type of agent in the aquarium itself. I realize that this will affect the other fish (One 10" Naso Tang, one 5" Banggai Cardinal, one 3" Lawnmower Blenny, one 3" Blue Spotted Jawfish, one 2" Hector's Goby), the 5 serpent stars and about 30 corals to some degree or another. Any thoughts, or suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, Dave Harvey <If it were me/mine, I'd first try a fashioned "squeeze net" to push the one fish down toward one end (two inert poles and some reasonable size mesh netting)... and two hand nets once isolated in a smaller, more manageable volume... or "bite the proverbial bullet" and drain the tank down... into containers it can be re-pumped back into the main tank... Bob Fenner> Jumping Foxface  9/9/06 Hi WWM Crew, <Diana> I have a quick and maybe silly question....... My Foxface (Siganus vulpinus) has jumped out of the main tank and into the overflow compartment. Do you have any hints on how to get him out fast and unharmed? Thanks for your input, Diana <Not with your hands! Siganids can/do give nasty cuts and are venomous... Use a soft net of size to fish out and place back in the main tank. Bob Fenner>

Foxface Rabbitfish seems darker than at pet shop...  9/9/06 Hi, I have a Foxface Rabbitfish in a 50 gallon tank <This siganid (and most all other species in the family) needs more room than this> for about a month now and for some reason his yellow seemed a lot brighter at the LFS. <Good observation... turn dark when "upset"... something wrong> Could it be because of my light set up? (2 96w 1 12k white and the other 12k actinic) He will only get darker when scared but never any brighter. <More likely the size of this world... perhaps other tankmates... but light could be a factor> My water levels are just right and he's only about an inch and a half. <Wow, small> He should be fine until I upgrade for a 100 gallon in a few months, no? <I hope so. Bob Fenner> Thomas Collado

Foxface Slime Coat Slipping Off - 03/27/06 Hi, <<Hello>>    Lee here, first time writing long time reader. <<Welcome Lee>> I recently purchased a Foxface that was quarantined about a week with no problems. <<Mmm, best to leave a minimum of three weeks when placing livestock in quarantine.>> After adding to main tank, a 150 gallon, within day or so developed few black dots.  I then gave heavy doses of garlic and these all cleared up.  Now about every two days he develops a white film that sloughs off by itself. <<Normal for these fish.>> What is this? <<A mucus coating...Siganids (in particular the Foxfaces) have a very heavy slime coat which they seem to be able to "shed" at will...nothing to worry about.  My Siganus uspi sheds its slime coating daily (usually when excited as around feeding time).  The slime coat is even consumed by other fish in the tank on occasion.>> He eats great and it doesn't seem affect him. <<Nope>> All tank levels are at 0 with salinity at 17 and temp at 78 degrees. <<I prefer to see salinity kept at normal seawater levels (1.025/026)...for all saltwater tanks.>> I have a 75 reef tank that is about 4 years old and never have seen anything like this. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!! <<Regards, EricR>>

Fading Foxface Hey Bob, I have a question regarding my Foxface...I have had him in my 65 gallon  fish-only + live rock tank for approximately 2 months, and am concerned about  his loss of color. He was vibrant yellow when I brought him home, changed  all kinds of mottled colors and then faded over the course of the first few  days as expected, but his "true colors" never came back.  He seems healthy...eating well and all that stuff, with plenty of greens (marine algae from Ocean Nutrition). I typically break off a 2" x 2" square for him to pick at during the day, and feed some combination of Formula 1,  Formula A, brine shrimp, and Vibra-Gro in the evening (not all on the same  day!). I supplement with Selcon a few times a week too. The water parameters are OK too: Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 5 ppm pH: 8.3 Temp.: 80 Do I need to take his fading as a sign of poor care? Is there anything else I should do? Thanks for your help and for keeping this insightful column! < Chris, thanks for the well written note. You have done about all I would do with your Rabbitfish (the Foxfaces are part of the family Siganidae), feeding greens, having live rock about, adding vitamins, providing clean water... About the only two things that come to mind are bullying (by other livestock) and the chance that your system is too brightly lit. Both might be alleviated by making sure you have enough hiding spaces for the Foxface to get out of the light and hide in a large enough "cave". Can you make one out of your décor/live rock? Bob Fenner>

What's Up Doc? Problems with a Rabbit Fish <Hello, JasonC here filling in for Bob while he's away.> I have had a magnificent Rabbitfish for 2.5 months now. Recently I have noticed it gulps air and blows bubbles out of its gills. I suspected this was lack of oxygen so I added some air pumps to the tank. I already used the following for filtration/aeration. Turboflotor skimmer, numerous powerheads, drain/return pump sump system.  <should have had plenty of aeration from the skimmer.>  I have three large tangs in the same tank ( yellow, Naso, regal) as well as a medium sized Blueface angel. None of these gulp air. The rabbitfish's gills also only move as much as the tangs. Finally the Rabbitfish shows no other signs of stress. It has intense coloration, clear eyes, mark less skin, and a very varied and healthy appetite. Any help would be appreciated.  <hard to tell, from your description everything else is normal. How big is your tank? You might want to go through the Rabbitfish FAQ: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/siganidf.htm > Thanks, Everett <You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >

Re: Problems with a Rabbit Fish <Hello, JasonC here... > Hi my tank is 240 gallons with a 40 gallon sump. I have stuck air hoses in all of the pumps but it still sucks air.  <as I said earlier, I don't think that you water is oxygen-poor, so adding more air hoses won't help.>  It still looks and acts normal.  <then perhaps this is just a behavior or something the fish enjoys doing. As long as it's not hurting itself or in deteriorating health, I wouldn't worry about it. Some fish do this... my puffer does constantly around food time - gulps air, spits water.> Thanks for the help, Everett <You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >

Rabbit fish questions scenario= 125 gallon tank, ph 8.2, ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0ppm, nitrate 5ppm, tank has been setup and running for about two months. 2 bio-wheel 400 filters and Protein skimmer. Current fish include 5 black mollies (starter fish) 1 blue velvet damsel and a fox-face rabbit. Two weeks ago I made the mistake of getting 1 clarkii clown, and 1 bi-color angel on a Sunday and then 1 yellow tang and my fox face on Monday. This must of caused an ammonia spike as I lost all my new fish except my fox-face rabbit. The rabbit fish eats good (flakes), and is active. I have normal aquarium lighting set up on a timer 11 hours on, 13 off 1 Sometimes the fox face will go to the top of the tank, behind the filter intake, and spike his fins and turn almost all black. He will stay like this for 2-5 minutes. I can't see that any of the fish in the tank are aggravating him. He seems to do this most often when I near the tank. Is he stressed? <During these moments, yes> 2 His colors have faded since I brought him home. His yellow isn't as bright as it used to be. I have tried to feed lettuce but he won't eat it. Is there a proper way to feed lettuce? <Don't feed lettuce, or other terrestrial greens... Please read through the marine foods/feeding/nutrition and Rabbitfish/Siganid materials stored on WetWebMedia.com> I have tried hanging it near the surface and also sinking it to the bottom with an alligator clip. Any suggestions? Thanks for your time, Chad Dugger <Study my friend. Bob Fenner>

Foxface I have had a Foxface in a 20 gallon tank for almost a year now.  He has always been pretty shy.  He has dark tiny dots on his white stripe on his snout.  I've looked at some pictures on the web and noticed they do not have these dots.  He's acting normal but I just wanted to make sure nothing is wrong.  Are these dots normal? <Are they symmetrical... on both sides of the head? Likely not a sign of any infectious or parasitic disease> P.S. I know he's in too small of a tank and I'm about to move him to a 120 in a few weeks. <Thank goodness, providence. You will likely see these "environmental stress markings" go away with the move. Bob Fenner>

Fox Face Color  Crew, I am curious about the coloration of my fox face. I was looking through the pictures on the WetWebFotos site and noticed that my fox face has a similarity to a Siganus magnificus in that it has a brownish blackish streak across the top of his body. This is whether he is stress or not. I know my fish must be a vulpinus because it has the second black patch by his "throat" in addition the one across his eyes. My LFS said that this happens to his fish when the tank it is in is colored on the back. Is this camouflaging or a dietary thing? He gets fed Nori soaked in vitamins as well as Ocean Nutrition's #2 food for herbivores etc. Want to keep him healthy. Thanks, David <Well, David, in the absence of other outward signs of illness, injury, etc., Id be inclined to agree with the dealer. These fish, and many others, can and will change coloration (both intensity, and to a lesser extent, patterns) in response to various environmental factors (stress, chemistry parameters, lighting, background, etc.). Another possibility is that your fish might even be a geographic or individual variant of one of the species. If the fish is eating and behaving normally, I would think that there is little cause for concern. Just to reassure yourself, you may want to run tests on basic water parameters (i.e.; pH, Alk, Nitrite Ammonia, Nitrate). Keep making regular water changes, keeping stable temperatures, and feeding a good diet, as you appear to be doing. Keep observing him daily, and be prepared to act if you need to correct any of these parameters. Good luck! Scott F.>

Fox Face Color Crew, I am curious about the coloration of my fox face. I was looking through the pictures on the WetWebFotos site and noticed that my fox face has a similarity to a Siganus magnificus in that it has a brownish blackish streak across the top of his body. This is whether he is stress or not. I know my fish must be a vulpinus because it has the second black patch by his "throat" in addition the one across his eyes. My LFS said that this happens to his fish when the tank it is in is colored on the back. Is this camouflaging or a dietary thing? He gets fed Nori soaked in vitamins as well as Ocean Nutrition's #2 food for herbivores etc. Want to keep him healthy. Thanks, David <Well, David, in the absence of other outward signs of illness, injury, etc., Id be inclined to agree with the dealer. These fish, and many others, can and will change coloration (both intensity, and to a lesser extent, patterns) in response to various environmental factors (stress, chemistry parameters, lighting, background, etc.). Another possibility is that your fish might even be a geographic or individual variant of one of the species. If the fish is eating and behaving normally, I would think that there is little cause for concern. Just to reassure yourself, you may want to run tests on basic water parameters (i.e.; pH, Alk, Nitrite Ammonia, Nitrate). Keep making regular water changes, keeping stable temperatures, and feeding a good diet, as you appear to be doing. Keep observing him daily, and be prepared to act if you need to correct any of these parameters. Good luck! Scott F.>

Fox Face Colors...  Thanks for the quick response. Will keep a watchful...Dave <And thank YOU for stopping by! Scott F.>

Shy (Not Sly!) Fox...Foxface question Hello, { another '17' on the way ;-) } <Hello! Scott F. with you today!> I have had a Foxface for 2 weeks and he was great till yesterday... Every time yellow, active and with smile on his 'foxy' face... Since tomorrow he is sitting behind the rocks and from time to time (rarely) showing his nose. I don't know what's wrong... His stings are rather hidden {but when picking pellets, they are opened}, but he looks like 'zebra' {black & white}... Is stress cause that behaviour or my eyelash blenny which is swimming like crazy {REALLY active fish}??? It looks like foxy is quite scared but I don't know why... Is it normal that Foxface from time to time has that kind of behavior??? Thanks <Actually, yes.. In my experience and observations of others, these fishes are much like tangs...Some individuals are very, very "outgoing" and social, and others are amazingly shy. And, of course, it's certainly not an unusual occurrence for these guys to go through periods of time where they are shy and inhibited. I'd keep a close eye on the blenny to see if it is, indeed irritating the Foxface. If the fish is otherwise healthy, then I will venture to guess that in time, this guy will become much more sociable. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Freaky Foxface- Or Normal Behavior? Hello - <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I read the existing comments posted about various Foxface Rabbitfish issues, and have these questions:   Is there something wrong with my Foxface?  He stresses at least daily, changing color, hiding, being very still? <Very typical for a Foxface, in my experience> Is my tank - 55 gal, too small for Foxface?  Fish is about 4"-5". <I think that this tank is too small for long-term maintenance of this fish> Other facts: 55 gallon tank, with 1 small Green Chromis and 1 Orange-Spotted Goby, several snails, hermit crabs, 55 lb live rock, hang on bio filter, Remora skimmer, power head, compact fluorescent light, 1 sand sifting star fish, 1 Arrow Crab, 1 Bubble Anemone (clown died). My water levels, salt, ammonia, ph, etc are all good, checked weekly. Foxface's appetite is very good, eating varied  pellets, flakes and dried seaweed.  I have had him for 4 or 5 weeks.  The tank is about 2-1/2 months old. Your suggestions will be appreciated.   Thanks, Jeanette <Well, Jeanette, your tank sounds fine. These fishes tend to reach a large size, and, like tangs, require large amounts of space to be truly comfortable for the long run. So, if a larger tank is in the future, things should be fine. Regards, Scott F>

Magnificent Foxface Hi Guys, <Hi, MikeD here> I have a question regarding my Magnificent Foxface (Siganus Magnifica). He is such a beautiful fish and I got him for $55 from my LFS. (partly from a discount he gave me 'cause we're friends, partly from no one wanting him for some reason) He has been in my 120 for about 3 days.<Can I ask how large this fish is, as sometimes it has a significant bearing.> At the store, he was active and not shy at all, but when I put him in the tank, he hid behind the rock all night.<Normal> I suspected everything was fine and that he was just scared. The next day he came out a little and today he was out to eat. He's doing fine but I was wondering if he would eventually come out and swim more once he gets used to the tank.<Probably, but that depends on several things> Right now he uses his spines to hold himself in place behind various rocks. When my LFS took him out of his tank he had to triple bag him because he kept poking the bags.<You ARE aware that these fish have venomous spines about as potent as those of a Lionfish, correct?> LOL, it was apparent he liked where he was. Also, I was wondering why they change color. It seems like he is trying to camouflage with the rock. He does it when frightened. This is normal and isn't unhealthy right?<Foxfaces normally camouflage themselves for two reasons, 1) out of fear or stress, and 2) at night, with eh blotchy night-time sleeping pattern VERY normal> He is a very beautiful fish and I consider myself lucky to have him, as no one else seems to care about any of the Foxfaces, even though they are reef-safe and hardy. Why is that?<In my experience, Foxfaces tend to exhibit what I call the "target fish syndrome" more than many other families, meaning that if they are the largest fish in the tank they KNOW that would make them the most obvious, thus preferred target for attack by a predator, in other words meaning they are high on the intelligence scale. This behavior will often decrease if kept with other fish of the same or larger size, EXCEPT for other Foxfaces! Some Rabbitfish will tolerate others of their own kind or relatives, while the Foxface end of the family (Lo, vulpinus, Fiji) tend to be aggressive toward the rest and often need to be the ONLY member of the genus kept in a tank lest an all out war erupt. As to reasons for the apparent lack of popularity, the venom, of course, is often a deterrent, along with the larger size (up to 8" or 9" which is considerable in a 120 gal. tank if it's a typical reef system). As to his shyness in your tank, you didn't mention the size of the tank he was in and with how many and what size tankmates, nor what else you have in your tank.  If he's the only fish in there, the shyness is likely to be long term, and if the tank is in a high traffic area, even more so.  There IS an upside to this as well though....being more intelligent, if you're willing to make "friends" with him, eventually he'll develop almost as much personality as some of the puffers and triggers and become a truly "Magnificent" showpiece, but you'll literally need to earn his trust. these guys, by the way, have an insatiable appetite for veggies, even compared to other vegetarian species (I have a 7" Lo Foxface that can devour a full half pound of Caulerpa in an hour or less, and no, I don't know where he puts it either!**grin**)  Mine is maintained in a 300 gal. FOWLR tank with larger predators and large tangs and is ANYTHING but shy, with him being a problem and harassing a Vlamingi tang that's 3" longer for several months.  I acquired him when small and he was house with several other Foxfaces and Rabbitfish, but as he got larger they had to be removed to save their lives, with his attacks constant and ongoing.> Thanks, you guys are awesome, Jake


Magnificent Foxface (continued) Hello Again<Hi back! Mike D again>, In response to your first question, yes I am aware that the Foxfaces are a venomous group, but your hands stay out of the tank, so I don't mind :). I realize that his poking the bag was a defense to try and "sting?" it so that he would be let free, I just thought I'd mention it because my LFS said he's never had to triple bag a fish before<LOL! I've had to triple bag MANY fish, particularly those with sharp spines....it's REALLY impressive when you have to triple bag a fish because it BITES through two or three thickness of bags!>, I commented you must have never had a Foxface before then<Wrong. I started out with 5 in a 125 gal. tank and gradually had to remove them due to aggression among themselves.>. I suspected the very same thing of his camouflage patterns, as when I approach he sticks his head out from a rock, turns color with the rock, and doesn't move. very intriguing, and I'm sure he'll warm up to me.<good luck. I commented on their "biggest/Only fish syndrome" and suspect that in 6 months he'll be doing just what he's doing now.> As for their veggie consumption, I read about him in "Marine Fishes" long before I got him and knew that he would be needing a lot of this matter. I feed him quite a bit of Spirulina (it says to feed them that in the book) he eats well and I'm not worried about him staying healthy.<they need a varied diet and JUST Spirulina won't suffice. Caulerpa, romaine lettuce, spinach and FD algae sheets will help and these kids eat a LOT of veggies, as well as a fair amount of protein based foods> I'm shocked however to hear that you say they can be aggressive, as they seem harmless to me, but I guess that's an unfair statement when he's the only fish in there<The aggression displayed by the Foxfaces is generally aimed at their own kind and near relatives, although, as I found out the hard way, MAY be directed at other fish that they consider competitors as well. As to "seeming" harmless, drop a lettuce leaf in the tank....the mouth and teeth may be small, but they are VERY effective, particularly when the attacks are constant and non-stop. The Foxface I have was attacking a vlamingi tang a full 2" larger than it is (about 6"-7"). It's a 120 gallon tank, five feet long with 180 pounds of LR.<I gave  mine away to my neighbor after placing it in my own 125 gal. tank as "punishment" top see if it would lessen the aggression....I BOTH tanks, it stayed hidden in the LR and refused to come out except to eat occasionally, even though there were several other smaller fish in both> Anyways, now that you say he can become aggressive if the biggest fish in there, I am a little worried. He is 5-6 inches long, and I was thinking of putting a medium sized tang in there, (one of the Acanthurus members, don't know yet) Would he too get along?<Quite possibly. In my 300 gal tank the Foxface was a terror towards the Vlamingi tang (genus Naso) and yet completely ignored an Acanthurus tang that was placed in there at the same time> Rabbitfish and tangs are "cousins" but not closely related enough too fight to the death, I would think.<THIS  is where the rub occurs...it's not important what YOU think, but rather what your individual Foxface and Tang think. Each fish is an individual with its own specific personality and the books can only give a general suggested guideline on what MOST members of a given species are likely to do. Fish, however, don't read the books and have no problem embarrassing authors on a regular basis. Keep in mind that out of 10 fish, for example, 7-8 are likely to act as expected, but one will probably be much more aggressive than the norm and yet another may be extremely submissive and shy.  It's been my experience that this applies to pretty much any animal species that I've ever kept, and there have been many. I currently have a 300 gal tank, 2-125 gal tanks, a 100 and a 25 gal hex> Let me know what you think, Jake P.S.- I apologize for being so long winded tonight.<Me too, only it's not just tonight. No apology needed and good luck>

Magnificent Foxface Mike, <Hi again, I'm baaaaack> Now I am a bit confused.<A soul mate!> Does the Foxface not like to be the biggest in the tank usually no> or does it like to be because if the vlamingi was bigger, wouldn't he feel less threatened according to your biggest fish thing. By the way, he has already started to trust me more. (He loves his food and recognizes me as "The Food Source")<You could be lucky and have gotten a more outgoing specimen. Like any animal they come in timid, average and aggressive depending upon the individual fish> I want to get some of that "tang heaven" (both the Gracilaria and the Ulva) for my tang when I get one. Do you think that the Foxface will devour this stuff at the same rate as tangs?<Nope....MUCH faster. These guys REALLY like their veggies and you may have a tough time getting any to a tang.> Thanks for your time.<NO problemo. Time I have plenty off!**grin**> Jake

Scared Rabbit? (8/30/04) Hi, <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I have had a Fox face for about three years, he always eats very well, I noticed yesterday that he was hiding behind coral and his face was very dark and had dark areas on his body. <This is their typical night/fright behavior/coloration.> He is about 5" in length in a 110 gallon tank. Today his color is better but still did not eat and is swimming at the top. any help would be appreciated. Thanks Denis <Really tough to say. Have you added anything new? Done something differently? Changed something? How are your water parameters? Do you have any other fish in the tank that might suddenly have gotten aggressive? Any signs of disease, such as scratching, rapid breathing, etc? These are some good starting questions to ask yourself as you try to figure out what the problem might be. Hope they help.> Foxface Is my fox face sick, he seams to eat well and swims ok, but scared and puts up his defense with his fins. At times his eyes seem cloudy. My tank is a reef tank, We have him mixed with 1 yellow tang 2 clown fish 1 blenny scooter 8 gobies 1 cleaner wrasse, and our tank been up for about 5 months and all the other fish seam to be fine and I have them in a 90 gallon tank. <Nora, I believe the fox face flares up due to the yellow tang that is present. Nothing to worry about. As for occasional cloudy eyes, this could be diet. Fox faces do like algae. Have you tried feeding it the freeze dried algae? Also add some vitamins to all the fishes diet such as Selcon or similar. They will all benefit. Do you perform water changes on a regular basis? James (Salty Dog)>

The slime I thought came from the corals is from... the Foxface!?!  9/13/05 Hello All. <Howdy> Ali wrote me back on my feeding question the other day regarding this lovely fish. What I had mentioned was that I thought from perhaps excess feeding the corals were stressed as there was a milky white cloud or slime near them and on the Foxface. Of course since the first I had seen of it was after I saw the Foxface among the coral I attributed this to the Hammer corals. Now, I see that this substance is coming from the Foxface. <Yes... Rabbitfishes are quite slimy> It seems to come mainly from the dorsal fins top and bottom. And the clouds come as it swims quickly through the tank. I still need to recheck the water parameters but the values were: nitrites 0 nitrates, 10-15ppm, SG 1.023, pH 8.1-8.2 temperature 77F only 2 days ago. The fish eats well, is very interactive and bright in color (unless sleeping or spooked). Before I go 'fresh water dipping it' as I know these are generally hardy but the spines can be an issue when handling, more so in nets, I thought I would see if this something not abnormal and avoid stressing the poor fish unnecessarily. <I would not freshwater dip, net this fish here> I checked the FAQs but came up empty on the hits for Foxface and Slime'¦. What else should I have typed in? Thank you, James Zimmer <Perhaps an issue we just haven't come up with yet. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

The Disappearing Rabbitfish? 10/18/05 Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Been an avid reader of your site with much priceless information learned. I maintain a 125 FOWLR tank, moderately stocked, Naso & yellow Tang, Flame Angel, Maroon Clown, along with some Chromis and Damsels. Tank has been up for about 4 years, and most inhabitant are in that long. Latest additions are the maroon clown and Naso Tang. The Naso which is the largest in the tank (5-6") still gets picked on and evidently does not know how to use his "scalpels". <This will definitely change at some point!> Anyway, about a week ago I purchased a 2-3 inch Foxface which was eating nicely and active at the dealer. After an acclimation and dip I put him in the display tank (I know..) <Ok...you get spared the quarantine lecture this time... :) > He went right to an upper corner and looked pretty stressed out, hung out there for a bit and then disappeared in or behind the rock (lots of caves, nooks and crannies). Have not seen it for week now! Is this normal? Will it ever come back out? No one seemed to be bothering it although the tank is always "moving". Tank is well fed and plenty of grazing available (Due to be well fed I assume!) Thanks, Mordy E <Well, Mordy, it's hard to say, really. It's certainly not uncommon for newly introduced fishes to hide for some period of time. However, fishes like Rabbitfishes like to be out in the open and swim actively, so I'd say that, categorically, they're less likely to hide for prolonged periods of time than, say- Wrasses, Dwarf Angles, etc.  Adding to this the fact that these fishes graze constantly on algae, and there is some cause for concern. I wouldn't give up just yet, but I would continue to keep a vigilant watch on your tank to see if he emerges. I would give it a few more days before I'd really start to think the worst. I suppose you could dismantle the rockwork in an attempt to locate the fish, but I'd be hesitant to do that, for fear of disturbing the other tank inhabitants.  Also, a spooked Rabbitfish can accidentally nail you with those venomous spines, so be very careful if you choose to go this route. My advice is to keep up the faith and wait it out a bit longer before concluding the fish's demise. Obviously, continue monitoring water conditions and be prepared to take corrective measures if the fish has expired and affected water quality. Keep those fingers crossed! Regards, Scott F.> 

Foxface Rabbitfish Getting Dark Back  10/21/05 Hi Crew - <Marc> Have you ever seen or herd of a Foxface Rabbitfish's back getting dark? <Yes> The top half of his back on both side is getting darker, but the rest of him is still yellow and vibrant.  He seems healthy, eats fine, etc.  It is happening when the full lights are on, so it isn't his night colors (2x96 watt CF and 2x175W HQI).  He has been in the tank about 2 weeks.  Thoughts? Picture attached. <Pic didn't come through... likely "just" stress... if "both sided"... do you have dark/er areas where this fish (and your other livestock likely) can "get out of the light?" Bob Fenner> Foxface 11/6/05 I've got a Foxface Rabbitfish that is having problems. He can't swim well, and has been seen panting on the sand a few times. <Good observations, bad behavior> He tried to swim but can't do it well and refuses to eat (when he's ALWAYS my biggest eater, although I don't overfeed him). Nitrates/Nitrites/Ammonia is normal at 0 ppm. It's not overcrowded and there's nothing that I would think bother him. The only fish that could is my blue tang and orange shouldered tang, but both are half his size. <... can still be harming this fish psychologically> I also have a pair of banded coral shrimp, a lawnmower blenny, mandarin, a clown and random hermits. It was fine when I left but when I got home 5 minutes ago was acting strange. I did a water change today as I do every 2ish weeks and added the blue shouldered tang, but didn't see it harass it at all. Is there anything I can do for him? <Not enough information proffered here... re the size/shape of the system, its make-up... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rabbitfi.htm and the Related FAQs linked above. Hopefully others input will prompt you to realize more. Bob Fenner> 

Timid Rabbitfish - 01/26/06 Hi Crew, <<Hello!>> Thanks for all the info on your site and answering the questions thrown at you. <<Happy to be here/help.>> I purchased a 3" Barred (Scribbled) Rabbitfish (S. doliatus) a little over a week ago. <<Ah yes, an attractive fish...and one of the better choices for captive keeping with a maximum size of about nine inches.>> He shows no signs of ill health and seems to have a decent amount of meat on his bones considering transit (no pinching). <<A good sign, these are robust-bodied fish.>> He is fairly active in the tank if I watch from a distance (note from a distance).  The problem is that he is so scared of me that he is missing all of the feedings because as soon as I approach to feed he goes into panic mode and hides. <<Likely a behavior that will pass.>> He is not per se refusing to eat; if food goes the way of his hiding place he happily gobbles it up. <<This is good...>> Also when watching from afar I have seen him naturally grazing a couple of times. <<More good news...>> Because of this I am not sure the normal course of action for difficult feeders (i.e. soaking food in Extreme Garlic or other additives) will help. <<No...not the issue here.>> He seems to want the food, but is afraid to go out and get it.  I have tried SpectraLife pellet, Ocean Nutrition Formula Two Flake, Mysis Shrimp Cubes, and Seaweed Select Sheets. <<All fine choices.>> My wife fed once while I was at work and he ate, but this success cannot be duplicated by either of us.  Do you think that he will eventually become more bold and eat? <<I do...but for now you might do better to dump the food in the tank and walk away to let the Rabbitfish come out to feed.>> Is it common for this species to be so scared that they allow themselves to waste away? <<Common, no...I have found these fish to be quite bold/personable for the most part.  But fishes are individuals too, and will often display differences in behavior among the same specie.  And being placed in new/unfamiliar surrounds can be unnerving for anyone.>> I have tried to do a lot of research on this species, and while there is a lot of info on Rabbitfishes generally, information seems to be scant on the Doliatus. <<Really?  A Google search on the full scientific name (Siganus doliatus) seems to turn up a plethora of hits.  Though only time will divulge if there is any real info among them.>> Is there anything I can do to acclimate him to human involvement?  (i.e. more contact with the tank, try to stay away from tank other than feedings, etc.) <<I would go about as normal (other than my recommendation to move away from the tank at feeding time, for now), the fish will adjust to your presence/activity in the room.>> My system is a 144 gallon Oceanic half circle reef tank with 160 lbs. live rock, 20 gallon sump with wet-dry filtration, Euro-Reef CS 6-2+ skimmer, and a powerhead for additional flow.  Other fish occupants of the tank are 1 3" Yellow Tang, 1 2" Banggai Cardinal, 6 2-2.5" Green Chromis, and 6 damsels.  The tang and the Rabbit sparred for a few days, but everything has calmed down. <<Not atypical.>> Does it sound like this fish is in a pattern that cannot be broken or is there still hope? <<Tis hopeful.>> Thanks in advance for any response you can provide. <<Regards, EricR>>

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