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FAQs about Filefish Compatibility

Related Articles: Filefishes

Related FAQs: Filefishes, Filefish Identification, Filefish Behavior, Filefish Selection, Filefish Systems, Filefish Feeding, Filefish Disease, Filefish Reproduction, Filefishes eating Aiptasia

Canthidermis pencilligera in the wild.

Acreichthys tomentosus question, comp. w/ Banggais 12/2/10
Dear crew,
Thank you for the service that you provide. My boys and I enjoy your website daily.
<Ahh, welcome!>
I have been able to raise 12 Banggai Cardinalfish babies to 1" size.
I am currently housing them in a 75 gallon tank until I can sort out who may be interested in pairing up. The aquarium has an assortment of macroalgae, live rock, and some mangroves. I was wondering if it would be safe to house a pair of 2.5" and 4" Bristletail Filefish, Acreichthys tomentosus, and a 4" Copperband Butterfly in the same aquarium or if the babies would be in danger.
Thanks for any help you can provide,
<Mmm, well, this File species has fallen out of "darling" status as a pest anemone control... I have seen it chasing other fishes in the wild... I'd go w/ the Chelmon but leave out the Acreichthys myself. Bob Fenner>
Re: Acreichthys tomentosus question 12/2/10
Thanks for the quick response. Would larger peaceful fish such as Dispar Anthias or McCosker's Flasher Wrasse be better tankmates for the Bristletail Filefishes or would they incur some chasing from them also?
<Mmm, for wanting to principally raise and not disturb the Banggais, I'd go w/ something/s more placid.>
Would the Bristletails cause too much stress for the Copperband?
We want to do all we can to provide a low-stress home for the Copperband to aid in it's survival.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. B>

Acreichthys tomentosus Green File Fish, Aiptasia contr., comp.  2/1/2010
Yesterday I just purchased two Green File Fish to control my Aiptasia outbreak. I have them in a 250 gallon tank. Will Green File Fish bother a Carpet Anemone?
<Might. If it's occupied by Amphiprionines however, this is very unlikely>
I have very little coral in my tank and most of it is leathers or soft kinds of brains. I have some hermit crabs and a bunch of cool fish. Look forward to your response.
<You have it. BobF>
Re: Acreichthys tomentosus Green File Fish 2/1/2010
Thank you for the reply. So in my aquarium the Green File Fish should be pretty much harmless?
<Mmm, no... As stated prev... only experience will/can tell here. B>
I cant wait to all my Aiptasia is gone!!!!!

Nautilus macromphalus (availability), Canthigaster valentini, Paraluteres prionurus care and compatibility   1/1/09 Hi! <Hello Maggie> Um, this may be a bit random, but... What would be the minimum tank size and environmental requirements for N. macromphalus, and where could I obtain one? (I'm assuming they're not available captive-bred, so if they're endangered, please tell me and I'll just drop the issue.) They're supposed to be the smallest Nautilus species (16 cm), so I'm guessing that they would probably adapt best to captive life in the average aquarium, and they'd probably make pretty cool specimens, besides.^_^ <Mmm, I'd try asking this on the "Availability" forum of Tonmo.com... and have your LFS contact Quality Marine in Los Angeles re... Am going to ask Richard Ross, fellow pet-fish presenter, Steinhart Aquarium worker and all-things Cephalopod Maniac for input here> Also, do C. valentini and P. prionurus have the same care, compatibility, etc. requirements? <Quite similar... though the Toby is much more likely to bite, sample other life> What about behavioral differences? I'd like to get a Valentini Puffer for my tank, but I just need to check something first. <About the same behaviorally> Do Valentini Puffers generally nip at mushrooms, star polyps, and the like? What about Xenia? If so, can these animals easily overcome (or preferably avoid) any detrimental effects caused by nipping? Is there any way to "train" Puffers not to nip? <No guarantee per specimen... but keeping fed, in a large, well-populated system, tends to diminish "sampling"> I'm interested in Valentini Puffers because of their cuteness, and also because of computer research that turned up with at least one source (I think it was more) saying that if one HAD to try a Puffer in a reef tank, a Valentini may be the best bet. Is this true? <Mmm, the best for? This species, other Canthigasterines DO stay small... this is about their best trait> Finally, do Blacksaddled Filefish nip just like Puffers do? <Not as widely... in terms of choice of groups of organisms> If I can, I'd prefer a Valentini Puffer because of the "endearing" behavior attributed to all Puffers, but Blacksaddled Filefish DO bear a superficial resemblance to Valentinis, which, as previously stated, are adorable (in my opinion). <Might work... if enough room, started small especially. Bob Fenner>

Crabs/Shrimp Nibbling At My Rock Beauty? (Or Maybe the Filefish Is To Blame) - 12/19/06 Hi everyone- <<Greetings>> Would like your thoughts on this: about two months ago, acquired a 2" rock beauty in flawless condition.  Since then, she has been in what is basically a live rock setting with corals, gorgonians, anemones all Atlantic in origin; the only other fish is a common Atlantic file, about 3", and they basically ignore each other. <<Ok>> There is a large coral band shrimp, which the RB occasionally backs into for cleaning; also, 2 hermits: one blue-legged, about 1"; the other, a hairy red-legged one (not scarlet) a little bigger; don't know the real nomenclature, but I have seen them large enough to fill full size conchs. <<Mmm, trouble here I think...if not now then soon, as this voracious predator grows>> There used to be a small decorator (sponge, spider) crab but I have not seen it for sometime. <<Likely fell prey to the hermit...or the Stenopus shrimp...or the filefish...>> About a week ago, the RB's tail fin was missing a few tiny chunks along the back edge; this morning, considerably more damage, into the rays and quite ragged, about 1/8" deep in one spot. <<Worrisome...if this continues>> The rest of the fish is flawless; she eats aggressively, has added about 1/4" and has a very active and aggressive personality. <<Good signs>> This clearly appears to be damage as it is confined to the tail fin only, and is being done at night as she rests. <<Look to the crabs/shrimp>> The file is unscathed. <<Perhaps only for the moment...or perhaps the culprit...some can be rather "nippy">> I have already pulled the hermits; <<Ah good>> any chance it could be the coral band shrimp? <<There is yes...have not witnessed but have heard accounts of this shrimp catching/eating fish when large>> Or a tiny mantis I don't know about? <<Hmm, the Atlantic rock is known for harboring these shrimp as hitchhikers...but I think if it were a mantis the fish would simply "disappear">> There is only a slight reddening, so I would like to just let it repair itself, unless you think something more is required.   <<This is often the very best approach; just keep a close eye for any worsening of the condition and quarantine/treat only if/as necessary>> Thanks, and have a great holiday. Steve <<And to you in kind.  Eric Russell>>

Acreichthys tomentosus. Drab Aiptasia Killer In FAMA, Jan. 2000, the reef notes section notes that the Matted Leatherjacket (Acreichthys tomentosus) may be an effective weapon in the never ending battle with Aiptasia. Will the availability increase? I'm definitely going to give my local aquarium shop a call. Will FAMA keep us abreast of further findings? What is there compatibility with hermit crabs, corals and other home, reef dwelling creatures? Thanx, Ce. >> Yes, know of this animal... as a bonus and my part in the "where is this fish, and what is its practical aquarium biology" search, please find attached a JPEG of my best/fave image of the species...  Let's see, to four inches maximum... inhabits seagrass beds and shallow protected lagoons (one reason why its probably not collected... collectors by and large don't "shop there")... this image amongst Thalassia hemprichii... The Bristle Tail Files diet? Unknown. Compatibility? Unknown. Does it really eat Aiptasia like no tomorrow? I don't know... Availability? I suspect this is a very common species... have seen it used for bait (!) in Fiji... and occasionally imported... the reason I'm providing the image: it's a mystery hunt! I suspect that this monacanthid is not all that it appears to be... it probably does take adventitious bites at soft bodied animals other than Glass Anemones... and probably is not all that hardy in captivity... but we have to give it a try... keep looking and asking for it. I am going to cc my friends who collect in its range (Indo-west Pacific, East Africa to Fiji, north to Japan, south to Australia... to try and stir up a little excitement. Bob Fenner

Acreichthys tomentosus Filefish Bob. I read a Brief Article by Julian Spring in FAMA about the Acreichthys tomentosus Filefish. I wondered if yourself or your pals at Flying Fish had anything to say about the potential of this fish as an Aiptasia Control. FF do have it in their inventory. Any insight would be much appreciated. Adrian >> Do know of this species and its promise... only have seen it once in a public aquarium... And that friends in the collection side of the trade are hot on finding sources for this monacanthid. Do also know that though the family of Glass Anemones is widespread in all tropical to semi-temperate seas... they are not plentiful... except in reef aquariums... So, I do imagine there are some/more predators to be found. Bob Fenner... See also the WWM article on the Glass Anemones

Tassel filefish Hi Bob, I guess I am having a tough time deciding the next fish to add to my 75-gallon FOWLR tank. I have written you to ask about the various species of fish and you have been always most helpful. Anyway, I am wondering about the tassel filefish. Can you tell me more about the fish? How big does it get? Is it a relatively peaceful fish? Will it get along with the various snails, crabs and shrimps I have in the tank? Thank you in advance. Boon >> Hmm, well, the Tasseled Filefish, Chaetoderma pencilligera, is one of the hardier members of its family (Monacanthidae) for aquarium use... but not safe to keep with invertebrates by and large (will eat the ones you list is short order)... Gets about a foot long... Needs to be fed frequently (a few to several times a day)... I'd keep looking. Bob Fenner, who will post a few pix of this animal on the site: Home Page 

Atlantic Green Filefish gone bad I recently added an Atlantic Green Filefish to my 120 gallon reef tank to help control Aiptasia.  Inside of 2 weeks, the Aiptasia were all gone, which was great.  But...now I think he's decided to feed on my Button Polyps and I've seen him harassing my Green Bubble.    I think I need to get him out or find something else for him to eat.  He's very skittish and only makes an appearance as the lights go down at night, so I know he'll be very hard to catch with a net. Any suggestions?      <Mmm, the fish I believe you're referring to, Acreichthys tomentosus is not found in the Atlantic (It's Indo-Pacific in range). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm This fish will eat other stinging-celled animals other than Glass Anemones. I would remove it. Bob Fenner>

Pervagor melanocephalus comp. Hi Bob.        I am trying to find some more information about this Filefish. I currently have a 37g tank that's been up and doing good for 6 months. I currently have a 20g long tank cycling to house 2 clown gobies that are in the other tank (hopefully it won't be too much trouble to fish them out.) I have narrowed my choices down to this fish and a pair of Banggai Cardinals. I was wondering if this fish would be suitable for that size aquarium. <Mmm, not really. I would go with two small Banggais> I have ~40lbs LR, a 3-4" DSB, a Maxijet 1200 powerhead, and lighting is 2x65w pc. Only other livestock i plan on having is a Coral Banded Shrimp. would this fish eat one? <Too likely so> Is there an advantage in origin to hardiness? <Yes...> Also, would corals be a problem? <Again, too likely so in this size system. Just eating some in a much bigger tank wouldn't be as big a deal> Only things I'm set on having are a brain and either a frogspawn or hammer. Thanks for the great info on the site and in the book. Joe <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Stocking a Filefish Question  - 2/15/03 Happy Valentine's day to all of you, and Bob, hope you're having a great time in Hawaii<Hey there! Phil here!> I have a 60 gallon FOWLR tank.  No anemones, lots of coralline.  My inhabitants are a pygmy angel (2+ inches) 2 false percula clowns, 2+ and 3" and a royal Gramma (2+". Could I fit a  valentini mimic filefish (4" when adult} into this mix? <I wouldn't try it.  Royal Gramma's can be rather "rude" to new fish.  The biggest clown will not like having new company.  I really think your tank is full!> Would this mess up my happy tank?  I have always wanted a puffer but this seems to e an interesting substitute. I'd really appreciate your input on this.  My tank is a year old and in top condition as I write,<Hope your knocking on wood.... j/k> however, I have a CPR hang-on and was wondering if I would need to switch to an Aqua C remora with this fish.  My best to all of you, I think you're great! Connie <Since you won't get this fish I don't see the need to upgrade.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Redtail Filefish Dear Anthony: <PF actually> Would mushrooms be considered invertebrates? <Well, as they lack a backbone, yes they are. Here's the page on filefish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm - check out the description of stomach contents. Mushrooms are iffy IMO.>  I am ignorantly awaiting your book. <Well, I'm more eagerly awaiting the book.> I'm thinking of getting a Redtail filefish or mimic puffer filefish. Thanks in advance for your invaluable help. Connie <You're welcome, have a good night, PF>

The Filefish Files (Pt. 3) Scott (O.C.C.M.): <Hey there! Good to hear from you again!> Thanks again for the advice.  And, yes, I am among the converted - 5% twice a week. <On the path to enlightenment (and KILLER water quality) my friend LOL> I coincide that with my town garbage pickup; I find it helps when you piggy-back another routine. <I can relate...Can't wear board shorts without rubber slippers, can't eat sushi without wasabi, can't eat breakfast without a fish magazine...etc...Seriously, I have made the "52XW" (five percent twice weekly) water change a real habit- and it takes very little time, even in my large system...I think that more hobbyists would enjoy a lot more success if they embrace this technique! Don't give organics a chance to accumulate, and...they won't! (Okay- I was hoping to say something more profound, but you get the picture...LOL!)> I am a little disappointed about the possible feeding on coral, but I don't have any yet and I guess I can worry about that another day (or year).  Am I to guess from your lack of comment that he *may* be okay with crabs and snails? <Actually, my lack of comment was due to me being too long-winded with the rest of your questions! I'd really have to say that snails and crabs could be potential food items....Their dietary preferences and tank mate tolerances are much like the puffer that they mimic!> Anyway, for fellow aquarist Connie, I purchased my Paraluteres prionurus at my LFS, Absolutely Fish, Clifton, NJ.  Although 10 minutes from my home, I would travel an hour or so to get there.  They only had that one, but they can probably get more, right? <Hope springs eternal!> I have attached a picture of my wonderful Filefish.  Thanks, Rich <Rich- thanks a ton for helping out your fellow enthusiasts! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Tasseled filefish and Sallys... Dear WWM:        Are Tasseled Filefish considered reef safe? I know they will eat shrimp, but will they also eat crabs, snails, and corals? <They may eat any type of crustacean, so be aware> Also, how reef safe are Sally Lightfoot Crabs, and can you only keep one per tank? <When they get larger, Sallys can grab small fish. BTW, tasseled filefish get a little over a foot long... -Kevin> Thanks Bob Najedek, Great Site!

Tasseled Filefish Hi, Could a tasseled filefish be kept with invertebrates bigger than its self, i.e cleaner shrimps, tubeworms, mushrooms etc?<filefish are close relatives to triggerfish and if the opportunity presented itself it would probably tear limbs from the shrimp (or even eat them), better not to mix filefish with shrimp, tubeworms, etc, IanB> Regards Aaron.

Shake Your Tassels! >Hi, is the Tassled filefish reef safe? >>Essentially, no. I think they are  really cool. >>I do, too!  I love filefish, actually. >I have a 75 gallon reef aquarium with all different kinds of corals. Will it eat hermits, snails, or my banded coral shrimp? Thanks, Adam >>You can probably count on it eating these animals.  Marina

Tassled Filefish, sel., comp.   8/20/06 Thanks for the great service you provide.  You have helped me and countless others. <And greatly enjoyed most moments...> I have a compatibility question.  I lost a beloved lionfish a few months ago who was the star of the tank.  I would like to add a fish with similar star quality but want to avoid the feeding issues I experienced with the lionfish.  (The lionfish would begrudgingly eat frozen silversides and krill but I had to separate the other fish to give the lionfish enough peace to eat.) <Yes... a common scenario> I'm considering adding a Tassled Filefish to the tank. <Neat animals... but do get large... need a few hundred gallons to "get around" even though not fast moving...> The Tassled Filefish is definitely an incredible looking fish and from what I've read had a good temperament and is likely to accept frozen foods well.  My tank is a 250g fish only tank. <Mmm, a good candidate thus far> The current residents are a dogface puffer, porcupine puffer, Falco's hawkfish, sailfin tang, striped squirrelfish, a male and female bird wrasse, and a male and female blue-jaw trigger. My water quality is consistently good, with ph at 8.3, nitrates between 10 and 30, and kH between 10-12.  I do a weekly 40g water change and get a cup of skimmate every few days.  I feed the fish frozen silversides and krill soaked in Selcon and garlic once daily.  I also give the sailfin tang Spirulina and Formula One Marine Pellets a couple times a day, which the wrasses and triggers also eat.  Most of the fish are pre-adult though the male bird wrasse and sailfin tang are adult size. Do you think the Tassled Filefish would be a compatible addition to the tank?   <It itself should be... there may be a bit of jousting, tussling at first with the tank and maybe some others...> Would it be able to compete effectively for food? <I do think so... if "given enough chance" to settle in>   Would it be harassed when introduced? <Is a possibility> After introduction? <Much less a probability... this species, Files/Monacanthids in general are "left well alone"... hard-bodied, perhaps not recognized as fishes/competitors... I give you good odds here> I have plenty of rock in the tank, but many of the caves and crevices are frequented already by the current residents.  Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  Mike <Welcome. Bob Fenner, who would start with a "mid-sized" specimen... maybe 4-5 inches overall length.>  

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