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Indonesia Underwater: Squirrel, Soldier Fishes and the Pineconefish


Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com


Squirrelfishes, Family Holocentridae,  Flashlight or Lanterneye Fishes, Family Anomalopidae, five genera, six species, one in Indo.,  and the bizarre deep-water Pineconefishes, Family Monocentridae: are members of an Order of fishes, Beryciformes. You may know the holocentrid-related families from their possession of bacteria-source light organs beneath their eyes.

Squirrels and Soldiers: (31 here), reclusive for the most part, skulking and coming out to see who, what's there under rocks, large coral colonies and over hangs.

Genus Myripristis

Myripristis adusta Bleeker 1853, the Shadowfin Soldierfish. Widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific. To fourteen inches in length in the wild. Occasionally caught and sold for aquarium use. A more nocturnal species. These ones in Fiji in the Pacific and the Maldives, Indian Ocean.
Myripristis amaena (Castelnau 1873), the Brick Soldierfish. West-Central Pacific; Indonesia, Philippines to Hawaii. To about ten inches in length. Monterey Bay Aquarium photo. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Myripristis berndti Jordan & Evermann 1903, the Blotcheye Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific, including eastern Pacific in distribution. Most easily told apart from similar-appearing species by its yellow spiny dorsal fin. To one foot maximum length.

Myripristis kuntee Valenciennes 1831, Shoulder-bar Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific; East Africa to Hawai'i. Two to 55 meters. To eight inches total length. Reef-associated. Leading part of spiny dorsal fin yellowish. One off of Queensland, Australia, another off Hawa'i's Big Island.

Myripristis murdjan (Forsskal 1775), the Pinecone Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific through Oceania. This one photographed in the upper Red Sea where it is caught for the European hobby. To one foot total length. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Myripristis violacea Bleeker 1851, the Latticework Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific, to nine inches in length. A good-looking smaller species that ought to be more used in the aquarium interest. One in Fiji, another in N. Sulawesi.

Myripristis vittata Valenciennes 1831, the Whitetip Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific. To ten inches long. Another under-utilized species available in good numbers. Like most Soldierfishes, feeds on plankton at night. Maldives and QLD, Australia specimens.

Genus Neoniphon

Neoniphon opercularis (Valenciennes 1831), the Black Squirrelfish, distinguished by the continuous hard dorsal being black in color. Indo-Pacific, east Africa to Micronesia. Fourteen inches maximum length. This one in the Maldives.

Neoniphon sammara (Forsskal 1775), the Sammara Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to the Hawaiian Islands. To about a foot long. An occasional import. The first one in Hawaii, then the Cooks, last in the Red Sea.

Genus Sargocentron

Sargocentron caudimaculatum (Ruppell 1838), the White-tail Squirrelfish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Polynesia. To ten inches in length. Live in and about caves, crannies in groups by day, turning all red and spreading over the reef to feed by night. N. & S. Sulawesi pix.


Sargocentron diadema Lacepede 1802, the Crown Squirrelfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to Hawai'i. To nine inches in length. The most common Pacific offering in the family. Very similar to Sargocentron xantheryhthrum, but diadema has a very dark dorsal fine with a white stripe in its lower area, xantherythrum with a red dorsal with white spine tips. 

Sargocentron rubrum (Forsskal 1775), the Redcoat. Indo-West Pacific, including the Red Sea. To eleven inches in length. These ones off of Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Sargocentron violaceum (Bleeker 1853), the Violet  Indo-Pacific; Aldabra to S. Japan, GBR, Micronesia. To 45 cm. in length. Live in and about caves, singly by day, Feed by night on crustaceans and polychaetes. Sulawesi pic.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/


Sargocentron spiniferum (Forsskal 1775), the Sabre Squirrelfish. A beauty, but often lost to trauma in capture and shipping and too large for most systems (to eighteen inches in length). The first image made in the Maldives, the second in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea.


The lone Pineconefish species in Indonesia: (1 species here)

Monocentrus japonicus (Houttuyn 1782), the Pinconefish. To 17 cm. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, South Africa to Southern Japan, New Zealand. Found under ledges, in caves at depths of 20 to 200 meters (Fishbase). Aquarium photo. 

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