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FAQs about Rabbitfish Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Rabbitfishes

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

Rabbitfish; life-spans/gen., and stkg./sel.     9/16/13
Good morning!
Thanks as always for the wonderful website and information.  I am having trouble finding an average expected lifespan for a Rabbitfish in captivity.
<Oh! Have spent a good deal of time recently w/ someone who studied Siganids (for aquaculture, human consumption)... chatting re aspects of their general bio.; and have kept quite a few species for years>
  I tried fishbase.org, but it merely lists a question mark for age.
<Mmm, yes; their length/age graphs used to be easier to find, read... and "extrapolate" such data from>
 This weekend, we found our Siganus virgatus (husband insists it's actually Siganus doliatus, so I may be wrong) dead in the tank.  I am suspicious (and hopeful) that age was the cause of the demise.  I am hopeful you can give me an estimate for expected lifespan in an aquarium assuming optimum conditions.
<At least a few to several years... maybe 5-10>
My second question is advice on adding another Rabbitfish to the aquarium. 
Do you have a preference between Siganus virgatus and Siganus doliatus in regards to compatibility, hardiness, and personality?
<Am partial to the S. doliatus; but consider that these two are likely very similar here>
 Bluezoo currently has both in stock.  Second, what size would you recommend, 2-2.5 inches or 2.5-4.5 inches?
<The larger... ships better, more likely to fit in w/ an established system>
 Tank is a 250 gallon SPS/LPS reef with 600 gallon total volume including support tanks.  Inhabitants are a 4 inch Yellow Tang, 4 inch Threadfin Butterflyfish, 10 inch Vlamingi Tang (I know huge for this tank, was a "rescue" case), two Percula Clownfish, and two Blue Chromis.  All fish have been in the tank for several years.  I'm concerned a small Rabbitfish may be picked on by the Vlamingi and that a large Rabbitfish may hurt the Tangs.
<Mmm, even a 4.5" specimen will not be too large here... to blend in and fend for itself. Most all fishes recognize the defences of Rabbits and give them wide berth. I'd mention here (for browsers, not so much you) that it's prudent to assure the new fish is feeding, getting food. Am a huge fan (yes; a plug) for/of Spectrum pelleted foods>
Thanks again for any assistance.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 
RE: Rabbitfish     9/16/13

Thank you so much for the reply.  I feel a little better that age was the cause of the lost fish now.  We had the fish for 7 years and s/he was pretty large when purchased, so I'm assuming the fish must have been 8-9 years old at a minimum.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Rabbitfish Reef/Coral Safe? Sys., comp.    4/1/13
<Hey Lar>
I have been considering adding a Rabbitfish to my 65g reef;
<Mmm, small... for a full-size specimen of any Siganid species>
 most likely either a Foxface Lo (Siganus vulpinus) or a One Spot Foxface (Siganus unimaculatus).  However, I am concerned about the controversy about whether or not there reef safe.
<Not a worry... the family is way to the right of "safe-ness" here>
  I've been reading posts from about as many as have not had issues with them eating corals as from those who have experience their Rabbitfish eating corals.
<Not likely unless starved>
Current tankmates:  two ocellaris clowns; Kole tang;
<Umm, stop. You already have an Acanthuroid here
. That/this is "two strikes" against the idea of adding a Rabbitfish: your system is too small, and these two fishes aren't likely to get along>
tribal blenny; sixline wrasse; spotted pj cardinal fish; two neon cleaner goby (Elacatinus oceanops); one skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis).  Plus: Nassarius snails, Ceriths, serpent star, and sand sifting star.
Can you help clear up the controversy?
Thanks and best regards,
<Yes; I definitely would not add this fish here. Wait till you have a bigger volume. Bob Fenner>

Two Foxfaces In A 90 Gallon Tank? (Probably not a good idea) 02/13/12
I have a 90 gallon aquarium with about 80 pounds of live rock and a 30 gallon sump.  Current residents include a coral beauty, two clown fish, two damsels, an algae blenny and a royal Dottyback.  The tank has been setup for about 3 years.  Can I add two Foxface rabbit fish to this tank?
<<From a biological viewpoint, yesfrom a practical viewpoint, probably not.  While your tank could likely handle the added bio-load, the reality is that these fish do not often tolerate conspecifics.  I have heard of folks getting by with more than one to a tank, but these were considerably larger systemsI think you/your fishes will be happier if you keep it to a single Foxface specimen>>
<<Happy to share  EricR>>

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>.

Siganus doliatus, sys./sel.  8/13/09
Hey crew!,
As the title suggests, my question is about the Two Barred Rabbitfish.
<The Two Barred Rabbitfish is actually Siganus virgatus. The Siganus doliatus is called a Scribbled or Barred Spinefoot Rabbitfish.>
My 75 gallon tank currently has a 3" Kole Tang, 2 small false Percs, 1 Yellow Watchman Goby, 1 Velvet Fairy Wrasse, a couple of Emerald Crabs, a bunch of hermits, assorted snails, Zoanthids, and some star polyps. I'd love to have a Siganus doliatus, but I'm wary about my tank being big enough (I'm sure you'll tell me its not, since I have to ask the question!). Is there
another Rabbitfish that you would suggest as the last fish in the tank?
<No, these fish grow quite large and a 75 gallon tank isn't really large enough to properly
house these fish.>
Thanks so much for the help!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Venomous vs. Poisonous: An Anecdote... Mmm, those yummy Rabbitfish 01/06/09 Hello WWM crew, and a happy new year. <Hello David and Happy New Year to you and yours!> Not a question, but an anecdote. <Cool!> My wife and I visited her brother and his family for Christmas last month, which included a new tank of guppies. Better a tank if guppies than a tank of puppies!> They asked about my tank, which is a 125g marine with a P. volitans, a Siganus magnifica and a Z. desjardinii (NB: That is all that will be going in the tank, as far as fish go). <Yay!> I explained that while the lion and the rabbit are both venomous, they are not poisonous, and in fact are table fish in their native areas. <Yes.> Nearby to my brother-in-law's is a huge specialty supermarket called Jungle Jim's (Fairfield, OH), which has a bewildering variety of domestic and imported foods. <Have to remember that the next time I get to Ohio. Me and my guy are both foodies!> Last week, while pursuing the frozen foods, he came upon Rabbitfish fillets. <Oh boy, I think I would have a hard time seeing that... sorta like seeing "filet of Fluffy" to me.> I don't believe that he purchased any, <Whew!> but it goes to show that these fish are indeed commercially caught for food, <Yes, and it is my very hobby-centric predisposition to think anything but that. Sometimes we need to examine our own preconceived notions.> and can even be had locally in the US.<I still have a hard time thinking of Rabbitfish as a meal not a pet, but certainly this is the case with many animals, depending on one's orientation. Thank you for sharing, and perhaps enlightening others.> David Kelman <Cheers, Michelle Lemech>

Rabbit fish inquiry, comp., sel.  11/23/08 Hi, I am going to purchase an algae grazer for my fish only system in the near future. The system is comprised of a 300 gallon display, 67 gallon Fug', and 42 gallon sump. The inhabitants include a 10" map puffer, 4" porcupine puffer, 3" Dragon wrasse, 3" tusk, 3" emp. angel, 2" damsel. Everyone gets along great. I would like to add one of the less well known rabbit fishes to the "mix". My concern is that the puffers, who are very curious as well as sometimes oblivious will find a way to sting themselves. <Mmm, well... this is a good-sized system... and most all western Pacific, I.O. fishes recognize Siganids as being "dangerous"... I give you good odds here...> I have scoured your listings, but have come up short as to whether another animal that is stung will face certain death or not. <Could> So to some it up, will my other fish have some sort of inherited instinct and will keep their distance, and if not, if they do happen to run into this fish is it certain death? <Not certain... but at least painful... as I can testify from having been jabbed on occasion> thanks, Marc <I encourage you to look into one of my faves, Siganus stellatus... not a great beauty as the family goes, but a hardy, adaptable algae consuming species. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please help me beat this red algae nightmare!!! Siganid sel.    9/14/08 I am still battling this red algae and have been unable to locate the specific species of Rabbitfish you suggested. Do you know of any stores in Va which may carry/obtain this species or a retailer online? Thanks, Kristina <I would check with "the usual" (best) suspects... Dr.s Foster and Smith, That Fish Store... Bob Fenner>

Foxface Inquiry, sel....  03/19/2008 Hello WWM Crew, <<G'Morning, Andrew today>> As always, I'd like to start by thanking the entire crew at WWM for the invaluable support over the years. I'd have left this hobby (and my hair) years ago if not for this site. My question today is an easy one regarding livestock compatibility. <<thanks for the comments>> I've looked through the FAQ's regarding compatibility and I have a pretty good idea of what the response is going to be, but I wanted to get feedback before I move forward with my plans. I currently have a fairly mature 3 year old 90gal FOWLR with a 40 gal sump, for a total system volume of around 110 gal. The system is doing well with good coralline growth, copepods, very little algae, etc. I'm lightly stocked for a system of this size (at least in my opinion): <<A nice system indeed>> - No coral - various snails: Turbos, Ceriths, Bumblebees, etc. - 1x adult Tomato Clown - 2x adult Firefish - 1x juvenile Lawnmower Blenny - 2x juvenile Green Chromis <<Good stocking list>> I'd like to remain understocked, but would like to add one more specimen to the system, preferably something a little more on the "showcase" side to fill things out. I'd also like something relatively reef-safe, as I might move into keeping some beginner corals in the future. I really, really like the look of the Foxface, specifically the Magnificent and the Bicolor. <<No issues with your current stock, however, both are the same regarding a little caution when housed with LPS and some soft corals as there "may" be a tendency to nip. However, a good diet / feeding regime it should be fine. However, the caution given cannot be discarded>> I've researched thoroughly and am able to provide the proper husbandry for this fish, but my concern was compatibility with the other fish in the system. From reading online and talking to other marine enthusiasts, I don't expect to have too many issues. Every specimen is different, but in your opinion, can I expect any general issues with the fish in this system? Any big worries on the (future) coral side? I find the venomous spines just a tad disconcerting, but it's not a deal breaker for me. <<I don't see any issues at all with your other stock>> Lastly, the Foxface article on WWM mentions that aside from a freshwater dip, normal quarantine procedures are not necessary for this fish. I follow the dip / month-long quarantine procedure almost religiously, so I'm wary when someone suggests it's not necessary. However, I don't have experience with this species, so you'd be able to comment on that better than I can. <<I would say its necessary for ANY fish, and must be done>> Comments / thoughts welcome. Thanks again! - Drew <<Thanks for the questions Drew, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Stocking Advice...125g FOWLR -- 10/18/07 Hello crew and thanks for all the great advice. <<Always welcome>> Eric R. has been helping me with stocking advice so if you could steer my question in his direction that would be great <<I am here...>> if not here is what I have: 125g FOWLR with a 4" Assasi Trigger, 3" Flame Angel and the last fish in was a 4" White Cheek Tang. After researching the FAQs and a few other sources, I have decided to go with a Rabbitfish and wanted to know if the Scribbled Rabbitfish has any drawbacks versus other Rabbitfish. <<Not in my opinion...Siganus doliatus is an excellent choice>> From what I have read this species seems suited for the tank size, aggressive tank mates and is an excellent consumer of algae. <<Am in agreement... In fact, I have a pair in my 375g reef display (this is also a species of Siganid that will 'pair up' as adults)>> Any negative aspects, other than the venom, that I am missing? <<This fish 'will' require supplemental feedings of algae/vegetable matter along with whatever else you feed your fishes (hopefully Spectrum pelleted food is part of this repertoire). Mine 'love' 'green' Sea Veggies offered by Two Little Fishies...with an occasional (twice weekly, or so) soak in Selcon or Vita-Chem before feeding also proving beneficial>> Thanks again. <<Quite welcome. EricR>>

Dictyota control and Rabbitfish  - 05/02/07 I am a loyal reader of the WWM site, and have gained a tremendous amount of expert advice and guidance, paying no more than a couple of mouse clicks and some key strokes. For that reason, I feel obligated to share something that I have come across, hoping to give a small piece back to the WWM community. <I/we thank you> I have a 125 Gallon reef tank, with 2 bubble tip anemones (was one, split a few months back), 1 large branching Acropora , 1 large Montipora , 1 orange plate coral, 1 green open brain, 1 clam, several branches of frogspawn, and other assorted small corals.  Also swimming are 2 Solomon Island Black Perculas , 1 royal Gramma , 1 Kole Tang, and 2 clown gobys. About 6 months ago, I started to get an algae bloom of what I would later learn was the dreaded Dictyota .  Unaware of its nature, I tried to remove the Dictyota , but this only made things worse, spreading like wildfire around the tank.  I was removing tons of it every week, but I was only managing to keep it short, it was covering about 2/3 of the visible rock in the tank.  I only managed to keep corals from being choked out by siphoning off chunks of the Dictyota that surrounded each one 2X a week. I did my research on line, where urchins, diadema , and sea hares were all rumored to eat the stuff'¦.they didn't.  The owner of my LFS said that he knew no way of ridding the tank, short of a 2 month lights out period (that would not be so good for the corals). Naso tangs were also rumored to eat the Dictyota, and in fact on ate some at the store so I brought him home.  He started to eat the stuff, but then after one day, refused to eat anymore, and he died a couple of weeks later.  If seemed to me that he may have died from eating the algae, which I hear can be noxious. Not wanting to kill another fish, I decided on a last resort, something I had seen written somewhere obliquely on a posting.  I bought a two-barred Rabbitfish .  He didn't eat anything for the first two days in the tank.  On day three, I saw him nibbling a little on the algae.  Over the next three weeks, I saw him actively swimming, and nipping only once in while.   Yet his belly seemed full, near bursting.  It has now been only a month, and the Dictyota is all but completely gone.  I cannot believe I have my tank back.  I still am in shock that 8 months worth of frustration is over.  It seems impossible to me that this tiny wonder of about 3 inches ate what must of amounted to 8 lbs of algae or more. With the algae gone (hopefully never to return), I now have a hero of a fish, who instead of dining on Dictyota , will enjoy a life of Nori , greens, herbivore preparations, and protein. I am not sure if you have a forum for this, <Oh yes... both for Rabbitfish Selection and Brown Macrophyte control> but please share this with your readers.  Searches for info on the subject brought about frustratingly pessimistic analyses.  I want to let people know that Dictyota can be defeated, and all it takes is a three inch lawnmower called the two-barred Rabbitfish .   Brant Goldsmith <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa takeover, biological controls  11/21/06 Dear Crew: <Hey Paul, JustinN here with you> I want to introduce an herbivore in my 75-gallon reef aquarium to combat an outbreak of Caulerpa racemosa.   <Mmm, I believe this to be one of the Caulerpa sp. that is typically less than palatable to most herbivores.> I've heard that a tang or rabbit fish may be my best choice but I am concerned with the small size of my tank.  I may want to introduce a juvenile fish and remove it before it outgrows my tank.   <Can be done, but its better in my opinion to get something you would prefer to keep, and could happily live its life in the settings.> I understand that the juveniles of some species will not graze on Caulerpa.  A Reefkeeping article (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-05/hcs3/index.php) states, "filamentous algae will require a juvenile rabbitfish while Caulerpa species and other tougher, meatier algae will require adults." - What species of juvenile tang or rabbit fish will graze on Caulerpa? - What Caulerpa-grazing tang or rabbit fish have the smallest adult size and can best tolerate a small tank? Thanks very much, Paul. <While your tank is considered the borderline for such Zebrasoma sp. such as Yellow Tangs, my recommendation would be for a rabbitfish, such as Siganus vulpinus. Assuming you don't have an overly aggressive set of tankmates, it is my belief that this fish would make a wonderful addition to your tank, and may provide the biological control you are looking for. Do note, however, that manual extraction may continue to be necessary, as there is the possibility that either species will not consume the Caulerpa. Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Rabbitfishes/Foxfaces Hi Bob, I was wondering if you had a recommendation if at all for any kind of Rabbitfishes for a reef aquarium with clams and lawnmower blennies? There are so many types and I'm not sure which would do best for string algae/Caulerpa control. <Do take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rabbitfi.htm and in the linked FAQ file for help.> Thanks, Jackson <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Waskly Wabbits! (Rabbitfishes) I have a 65 gallon reef that needs a good algae eater.  I am told that tangs shouldn't go in a tank this size. <I think that's pretty good advice!> I also understand that Rabbitfish are a very good herbivore.  Is there a Rabbitfish that would be comfortable long term in a 65 gallon tank? Fred <In my opinion, Fred- not really. Pretty much every available Rabbitfish in the hobby reaches a minimum of 7 inches or so- these guys need space just like tangs do. They also are very sensitive to less than optimal water conditions, often being referred to by hobbyists as "ich magnets". I'd stick to some of the less "space-demanding" herbivores, like blennies...For example, the "Lawnmower Blenny", Salarias fasciatus, or the "Redlip Blenny", Ophioblennius atlanticus (a neat fish, but sometimes can nip an occasional coral or clam mantle...never happened in my tanks, however). These guys can do a nice job on algae, and although they can get over 4 inches, they don't have nearly the requirements for space that tangs and Rabbitfishes do. Also, some people use pygmy angelfishes (Centropyge) for herbivores (Now- I don't want every reefer out there to freak out and say that "Scott is suggesting using a Flame Angel for algae control!"). These fishes come with a variety of personalities and tendencies, including a propensity for nipping and eating corals in some cases! However, a large percentage of their diet is comprised of vegetable matter, so I include them here for completeness. In your tank, you'd definitely want the smaller "models", like C. argi, or C. acanthops. Both of these little guys can be feisty, however, so choose tankmates carefully. Use the wetwebmedia.com site for more research into herbivorous fishes. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Waskly Wabbits (Pt. 2) Sigh, too bad on the no for a rabbit in a 65.  Some are actually very nice-looking fish. <The certainly are! They simply need a fair amount of space.> I will go with the lawnmower blenny. <A good choice, IMO! You'll really enjoy his antics and personality. You certainly won't be "settling" with this guy!> On another note, what can you tell me about convict blennies?  I saw a few in a local store and they are very interesting looking.  As far as I have been able to find out, they are reef safe.   <These are pretty neat fishes! I'm assuming that you're referring to Pholidichthys leucotaenia...They are generally peaceful and usually very hardy.> The only negative I have heard is that they dig in the sandbed all the time.  Is this because to do not have a deep enough sand bed?  How deep a bed do they need? <Unfortunately, this is a rather annoying behavior for most people. The danger is that they can cause "cave-ins" of rockwork, and can bury corals and other sessile animals with their digging behavior. They can also cause damage to deep sand beds, disrupting the nitrifying processes occurring in the sand. You'd certainly want a fairly deep bed, at least 4 inches, possibly more. Once again, I'd recommend creating rock work that is not adversely affected by the digging habits of this fish.> Thanks, Fred <Good luck with your tank! I'm sure that you'll enjoy your future fish purchases if you plan for their needs accordingly. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

You say tomato, I say Acanthuroid <MikeD here> You are a wealth of knowledge.<Thank you...now you're making me feel REALLY old!> I really appreciate it. I read on your FAQ about Yellow tangs being prone to ick, would a Foxface Lo be a better choice?<For a relative beginner, quite probably if you're satisfied with the appearance. Similar intensity of the yellow, with the brown/white as a contrast, VERY similar habits, and, like the tangs, only one per tank.  Some of the other Rabbitfish can be kept in groups, but the Lo will definitely attack conspecifics as it grows, and other family members as well. These are very hardy, get along well with lionfish and quite ick and disease resistant as well.>

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