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FAQs about Filefishes 1

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

The too-common, doomed Orange-Spotted Filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris. Only eats live Acroporid coral polyps

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.> Long Nose Filefish...NOT! For Captive Keeping - 02/13/06 Hi there! <<Hello!>> I am just curious if someone could answer a question about a long nose filefish? <<Ah yes, Oxymonacanthus longirostris...beautiful and interesting little fish...and completely unsuitable for captive keeping.>> I recently bought one and yes I knew that they would be hard to feed. <<(sigh)... More like impossible.>> The one I have seems to be doing great, <<Doubtful my friend.>> I have many different foods both frozen and liquid form <<!!!>> that I was told it would eat, and that simulate what it would eat in the ocean. <<Someone is sadly misinformed...or lying to you.  Either way, no excuse for you not doing your own research BEFORE buying this fish.  Oxymonacanthus longirostris feeds almost exclusively on Acropora polyps...unless you are prepared to buy live corals for this fish to feed upon, it is doomed.>> Anyways, since he has a long snout with a hole on the end of it and his mouth does not move, how can I tell if he is eating it? <<Mmm...you state the fish "seems to be doing great" yet you don't know if it is feeding...I assure you it is not likely at all.>> Also, what would you suggest to feed it? <<As already stated, live Acropora polyps.  Your best hope is to return this fish to the store that sold it to you...perhaps you can inform them of its unsuitability to the aquarium trade...  Regards, EricR >> Long Nose Filefish...NOT! For Captive Keeping II – 02/14/06 Thank you for the reply, as I said I knew that it was a hard fish to feed, and sorry for not doing my research before buying it.  I just wanted to know if you had any additional information on the fish, because what I have read in the site from a few other owners of the long nose filefish, they have had luck with feeding. <<But what constitutes a "few"?  One in fifty?...a hundred?...a thousand?>> And to make you aware I think that it is feeding due to its activity when the food is in the tank and it swims from one side to the other very fast which I thought meant that maybe it was swooping it in to its mouth. <<Why would you think this?  Have you actually seen this fish ingest food? (apparently not, according to your previous email)  Have you done any research on the feeding habits of this fish?>> And on a side note I do know that you guys know a lot about the fish and that is why I contacted you, I did not need your response to be so rude, <<No, wasn't meant to be rude, but 'was' meant to be matter of fact/to make a point.>> by saying it was my fault for not doing research, and that when I said my fish was healthy looking you replied that I must not know that because I do not even know if it was eating. <<Please keep your facts straight...  You didn't say your fish was "healthy looking", you said your fish "seems to be doing great"...and you did also say "how can I tell if he is eating it?".  A fish that is not eating is not "doing great"...and this fish specie is notorious for "not eating".  And...if it is not your fault for not doing research beforehand, whose fault should it be?>> It actually seems that you do not know the information to tell me because you did not answer my questions you just had a smart remark to give me about every sentence. NOT INFORMATION.  Thanks for the help but for the curiosity of the others needing your help you might not want to be so rude when responding to people just seeking your assistance. <<Is unfortunate you view it that way/that I wasn’t able to tell you what you “wanted” to hear.  Regards, EricR >> Orange spotted filefish... Alive!   2/7/06 Dear Bob, <Terri> I am a long time reader but a first time emailer so please be gentle! I have had a success where many others fail, so this is my one and only chance to brag; plus I thought that you and others might be interested in this. I am the proud owner of an orange spotted filefish that has just past the 18 month mark. <Congratulations!> He, (well I assume he is a 'he'), lives in my 75 gallon seahorse tank with 8 horses and a long nosed hawk fish. I know that you are not going to believe this, but he consists solely on a diet of frozen foods. <Have seen this> This includes Hikari Mysis, Marine Green, Marine Dinner, Frozen Squid and occasionally as a treat, live brine. Additional to this, he picks at a strip of Nori I hang in the tank. Attached are a couple of pictures showing how healthy he is. I keep meaning to borrow a video camera so that I can make a short film of him eating the frozen food and send it to you (if you are interested). It is amazing watching him eat the Mysis through his long tubular snout. I am religious with my water changes, tank maintenance and have a skimmer, chiller and U.V. sterilizer. I am not encouraging novice reefers to try to keep this fish, but I just letting people out there know that it is possible. This is my first filefish and he is definitely my pride and joy! I love him more than my seahorses and that is saying something! Hope you found this interesting, Terri Rennie - (Sydney, Australia) <Thank you for this input. I do suspect that your success is due to the peaceful setting, good care you've provided... and the initial good health of your specimen. Cheers, Bob Fenner> _______________________________________ I don't care what you say... ASCII art is still cool! http://www.seahorse.org (SilverSeahorse)             \ \__            , "     "-.            o   , ---. ` ,           / . "   /  .  /         / /    ,   " . . |               /   / . .  / / /             /    / . . . / - -           |       | . . . | \ \ \           |       | . .  /             \     \ .  /          , " .               \_   " - , ___   `_/                 "  _ .  ,  .  -  "            Gwen the Seahorse                 by Terri, 2005

Toby puffer identification  9/25/05 Hello Bob, <Emily> I was on your site and read your notes on the difference between the Toby and the filefish.  I can't really tell from the pictures which is a puffer and which is not.  I have recently bought a Toby puffer( valentini I think) and just wanted to verify that I got a puffer instead of a filefish.  Can you give me more prominent signs to look for in order to tell a puffer from a file fish? <Mmm, the very best is their dorsal fins... though not often erected, will likely be when excited (like when feeding). The Filefish has a prominent anterior spine (first dorsal ray), whereas the puffer has all-about the same appearing rays>   My fish doesn't seem to have the obvious blue lines running from the head to tail but there is a hidden blue/green color at the back if seen at a special angle. <Mmm, the color difference/s are not consistent, nor telling> Appreciate if you could help me identify my fish. Thanks, Emily <Look on fishbase.org, the Net... at both species... and their dorsals. Bob Fenner> Filefish sick, Clowns vs. polyps  9/2/05 Hi guys I am so happy that I have you to ask some questions. <Okay, how do I get a date with Heather Locklear? Oh, you want to ask...> There is so much to know in this hobby. <Perhaps infinite... in terms of human lifetime> Anyways, I have two questions. I have a saltwater tank with 5 blue Chromis, a pair of percula clowns and a dragonet. The largest fish, about 2 inch diameter, is my Tassled filefish "Harry". <Good name> Harry has been fine for one year in this setup. In the last week or two he has slowed down in his activities. Today is the first day he will not eat. All the other fish are and I can not tell anything wrong with them. As I thought back, I did realize that I had to tempt the filefish a little longer to come and eat. He always did though, he always has been a very eager consumer. About one year ago I had three Banggai Cardinals in this setup, that all died from an internal parasite. They all stopped eating, had the telltale white feces and died. Since my filefish has always sifted sand through his mouth to catch little treats, is it possible that he may have ingested this parasite? <Mmm, not likely> I heard the only way a fish can get this internal parasite is by ingesting it. Could it be that that parasite is still in the sand and active after one year? <Again, probably something else at work here... Cumulative nutritional deficiency, perhaps bullying by the damsels...> My other question is this: I have another small saltwater tank with only one pair of tomatoe clownfish. A couple of days ago I introduced a seamat and a yellow polyp rock into the system. Since then the clownfish have attacked both coral rocks, attempting to move them. Is this normal behavior? And is there anything I can do to discourage it? <Remove the rocks, polyps... something about them the fish don't like> Again, thank you so much for being here for us. I am eagerly awaiting your answers. You guys are the best! <For the filefish, a change of tanks? Addition of a refugium (and quick), trial of other (live) foods... If you suspect internal parasites, the use of Metronidazole/Flagyl (see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm and the linked files above). Bob Fenner> One day ich, bloated filefish Hi, Is there a disease that looks like ich but only lasts 24 hours or less? <Mmm, there are such possibilities, but likely this is crypt/ich> Appears about once a month, usually on one fish at a time, 2-4 lesions which are larger than ich seen at the LFS. I need to find a new home for some of the fish exposed but don't want to spread it, whatever it is. I have a 20 and can move all fish to it, treat, and let the system go fallow, but am not sure what I am treating. <Most all external parasites of marine fishes can be treated about the same... See WWM re> During a recent heat wave had another episode of the 1 day "ich" followed by severe disruption of the skin of a yellow clown goby. <Touchy to treatment...> An orange spot filefish had 2 white spots on the dorsal, one of which left a Bullseye shape in hazy white the next day, no red. Following day it did not eat, kept the file up, got pale, bloated, and laid on its side. Both fish had 2 spots which disappeared for 2 days, then they got seriously ill. Am thinking secondary infection of the parasite <Possibly> wound so moved both fish to a 10 and dosed Maracyn 2. After 24 hours did a large water change and re-did the first day dose of 2 pills plus a tbsp Epsom salts for the bulging eyes (water looked milky and nasty). Plan on doing the next 4 days with single pill dose/no water changes/no more Epsom salts till the end as the package suggests. Both fish are already better in appearance. Should I continue or switch direction, if it doesn't cure or kill what would be the next action? Assuming if I get the secondary infections wrapped up still need to deal with the alleged ich. <I would dose as you list, keep changing water out, monitor ammonia, nitrite... hope> Do you feed a fish recovering from bloat and what/when would you suggest? I have live daphnia, brine shrimp, pods, worms, Mysid shrimp live or frozen and the usual array of frozen foods. <Feed sparingly, whatever the fish will take> Bloat may be food related, LFS stores here often thaw and refreeze so have mail-ordered all new frozen food for the future... the wholesalers deliver it thawed and warm in the summer. Ugh. I did quarantine all these fish but suspect I carried a pathogen from a QT tank on hands or clothes or from when I worked at an LFS. (that's how I know about the frozen food) <You have a good mind for all this...> This is what I get for announcing my success with keeping an orange spot filefish. <... a very difficult aquarium species> I got him as a rescue and he's been here for months, doing well till recently. Right about when I started telling people of my alleged success. I guess I am half Murphy and here comes the law. Suggestions? File is actively hunting despite his bloated appearance... <Do you have a "sacrificial" small polyped stony coral?> I have no idea if he's on a long term effective diet as he should be eating Acropora polyps. He did like Condylactis anemone at the store, could get him one of those... Does not eat tulip, Aiptasia or majano unfortunately. (: I will probably never get another of these as they shouldn't be in the trade, he was a rescue, and I really don't want to lose him. Thanks, Kate <I wish folks in the trade would leave this species in the ocean, stores wouldn't buy it, hobbyists would refuse to purchase... Bob Fenner> Hurting Fish Hello WWM Crew, I have a 5-year-old 150-gallon reef tank. Yesterday I went to the LFS, where I purchased an anemone and several fish; (2) PJ's and (1) Banggai Cardinal, a Coral Beauty (approx 4"), and a Tasseled Filefish (approx 6") that I have been looking at for two weeks.  <A gorgeous animal> When the LFS received the anemone, it was attached to a rock. As it sold, they attempted to remove it again, <Mmm, better to buy with the rock...> but it still wanted to stay. I acquired a new rock. To transport everything home, they put the anemone in a salt bucket and the fish were bagged individually (the cardinals were together) and placed/floated in the bucket. <Okay> I arrived home with the bags intact, but the Angel and Filefish were not swimming around. Both were swimming and interacting, eating, appeared very healthy, and have been in the store for a while (2-3 weeks). As I went through acclimation, each had regular breathing, but were lying down. They would swim around a little when I added acclamation water, so I didn't worry too much. All of the Cardinals were fine. I now believe that during the ride home, the two larger fish did not have as much room in the bags as the Cardinals, and that the rock was rolling around on the bottom. They literally could have been beaten up by the rock. In hindsight they looked stunned when I got home. <Did the folks use oxygen, squeeze out all the ambient air...? I do hope so> They were both still looking rather lazy this morning, and now the Angel didn’t make it. Is there anything I can do to help the Filefish?? <Other than good upkeep, optimized, stable water quality... aeration... not really> He is in quarantine with no indication of recovery. He still has energy to swim, but only if I am working on the water. I couldn't imagine anything would help, but thought you would know if there was. Thanks -Mark <This species does "just cruise" about... If concerned, I would take the calculable risk of pH-adjusted freshwater dipping and placing the File in your main system. Bob Fenner>  

Filefish ID Hello WWM Crew, Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Toba Aquarium in Toba, Japan.  <A fantastic sight> They had a huge reef tank about 30 feet long (I attached a picture of the tank as well as I thought it might interest you). In it, I saw this interesting fish poking its long "nose" amongst the corals.  <It's an obligate corallivore> I have never seen such a fish. Could you identify it please? Thank you, Gisho <Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm - Oxymonacanthus... Bob Fenner>

Tassel Filefish I have a Tassel File which has been healthy and with me for about 1 1/2 years. It is about 8 inches from nose to tail, hand fed a variety of foods in an aggressive tank. He has done very well up until the past three days. I noticed what seemed to be some broken blood vessels, or bleeding under his skin, and a swollen mouth which is getting progressively worse. <Good observation, description> He is interested in eating, but can't. I was able to place one small piece of squid in his mouth yesterday which he ate, but today nothing. Again, he shows interest but can't or won't eat. Any suggestions? Wendy <Yes... check your water quality... execute a large water change in any event, lower your water temperature if it's in the high seventies F.... and add a vitamin/appetite stimulant to the water (e.g. Selcon)... Hopefully your fish will rally, heal on its own. Bob Fenner> 

Blue Eyed Filefish Greetings, Your site has without doubt, been my best source of information. I recently purchased an interesting fish that I'm having difficulty identifying. It was sold as a planehead filefish (they did state they weren't 100% sure of its identity). <Stephanolepis hispidus?> After sourcing information, it looks completely like a seagrass filefish (leatherjacket) except for the fact that it has bright blue eyes. I can find no picture or literature on filefish with blue eyes. Is there a blue-eyed file fish to your knowledge?  Thanks, Elizabeth Turner <There are some Monacanthids with blue eyes... though my pics don't show them well http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm . Maybe give a look over the images on fishbase.org for this family's members... and their handy link per species to "Google Images". Bob Fenner> 

Any idea of the Identification? Hi Bob, <Hello John> I ran across you on the WWW and your excellent review article on File Fish. <I see> Anyway I collected the attached in the Los Cabos area of Mexico and have been struggling with the identification.  Initially I thought it was a Blunthead Triggerfish, Pseudobalistes naufragium, but now think it might be some kind of File Fish.  Do you have any ideas or can you point me in the right direction? <Is a Monacanthid... from body shape, single dorsal "trigger"... definitely not the Blunthead Trigger... have seen both in and about the area... Looks like an Aluterus scriptus to me. A neat, though large for aquariums species found circumtropically. Appreciate any help you can provide. John T. Snow <Wish we were diving there right now! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Bob, Thanks for the phenomenal information in such a timely fashion.  I ran a Google search of Aluterus scriptus and know you are "spot on."   <Ah, did you see any live specimens?> Right now I am spending 1/3 of my time in the Los Cabos area, left there two days ago, and wish I was back there already!  My collections are all done via hook and line. <Neat... have spent about two years total all over Baja, many times in and along the corridor. Would like to get down there with some shell-collecting friends> What I am working on is the Fish I.D. section of Mexfish.Com with my friend Gene Kira.  We are currently conducting a "once over" of what we have on there before I add more species to the presentation. <Sounds like a great project... was surprised this last year to have a friend in common (Paul Kanner) tell me of the how of Alex Kerstitch's demise... am sure you have seen his work in your field> I collected the fish we are discussing and took the photo about 4 years ago - you will see it as a Blunthead Triggerfish on MexFish.com at present.  However my skills and abilities in the fish identification area have increased significantly and I quickly realized that I had this one WRONG.   <Naufragium is... unmistakable... especially as full size adults! They steer clear of divers... and are not nearly as common as "sopa" fish as the Finescale...> Thanks for sorting it out for me and we will give you credit in our write up (unless you advise me otherwise). Thanks again! John T. Snow <No need for credit. Make it known if I can be of assistance with photos, what have you. A bunch of our stuff is out and about (gratis) for non-commercial purposes. Bob Fenner>

Formalin & Orangespot Filefish <Hi, MikeD here> I have a few questions about a couple of subject matters.  The first concerns formalin.<OK>  I live in California and can no longer find formalin for sale.<California's standards are stricter than many, and formalin is a known and proved carcinogen, or cancer causing agent>  I have heard two things.  The first is that it is illegal to sell here, and the other is that the pharmaceutical company that makes it is no longer in business.  What is the truth behind it?<Since there always was more than one company that manufactured it, I seriously doubt that THE company went out of business, unless of course "they" are referring to a California company, which is quite possible>  I depend on this medication to get rid of the various external parasites found on marine angels and butterflyfish before introducing them to my aquarium.  It is part of the reason I'm able to keep the Eight Banded Butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus) alive and eating well for a long time now.<I seriously doubt it's the formalin enabling you to keep the fish alive, but rather your husbandry and feeding regimens instead.>  How do I get a hold of it, or are there other safe alternatives to ridding fish of their parasites?<There are several other chemicals that are effective against external parasites, the choice of which is often dependent on what type of parasite it is to begin with> The other concerns the Orangespot filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris).  I have kept this fish before in a tank filled with thriving Acropora colonies.<That's highly commendable and a much greater length than many are willing to go in the attempt>   One day it mysteriously disappeared.<Which is usually the end met by most in captivity>  All my other fish at the time were healthy and still alive.  I believe I had a couple of Red Margin Fairy Wrasses (Cirrhilabrus rubrimarginatus), a Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), and a Golden Pygmy Angel (Centropyge aurantius).  I suspect the possibility of parasites killing this fish<No offense, but I think you've got a parasite fixation>, for it pecked at the corals all day long.<Meaning what?>  What's even weirder is that I have been seeing pictures of these fish fat as a pig in nature.  But my fish never got that friggin' big in the aquarium feeding off of Acropora colonies alone.<That's likely because it was never healthy and was lacking in a critical element in its diet it needed to survive.>  This to me seems contrary to what is being written everywhere in books magazines, as well as articles on the internet about them being exclusive corallivores.<OK, I'll agree a little with that statement.>  Is it possible they are just as undemanding in the variety of food they eat as other filefish, but are rather just shy behaviorally and very slow to adapt to rapid changes in diet and environments?<Possible, but that's not likely the entire explanation, with the real answer being that there's something in their wild diet you weren't able to meet, perhaps something as simple as not enough different species of corals. In the wild they're on the move all day long and probably include much in their diet in addition to the coral, which provides the bulk of it.>  I have read accounts from certain aquarists training this fish to regularly accept normal aquarium foods.<Me too and I'm always suspicious of these reports, with many people thinking 6 months or a year is "success" while in actuality it's just slow starvation.>  I've also noticed in pet stores and wholesale warehouses, that these fish peck at the sides of the glass and the bottom of the tank a lot.<Logical. they are starving to death and trying to find ANYTHING to help fill the gap.>  The pecking seems very deliberate.<It probably is, with their vision attuned to things we can't even see.>  What are they doing?<Eating>  Could the possibility of parasites I've seen commonly attached to angels and butterflies affect the health of these fish drastically to the point of no return?<By the hundreds? Not likely. I don't know you but you really do seem obsessed with parasites.>  Would it be proper to assume that if I tried a similar mini-reef Acropora set up in the distant future, to purchase the smallest juvenile filefish possible for the purposes of adaptability, much like butterflyfish?<Not a bad idea, but if I were to try it I'd add more than just Acropora, as nature rarely has anything found singly by species. I wouldn't be surprised to find that small anemones, cnidarians and such are also a vital part of their diet.>  Are these fish also commonly found in groups rather than singly in nature?<Actually, no. Adults have been found to go through a very elaborate pairing ritual, not unlike many of the other filefish.>  They seem to be very peaceful towards specimens of the same species.<Seem is a dangerous word. Indications are that males can be highly territorial and combative, another trait often found in other filefish.>  Could they possibly suffer from severe loneliness as Anthias do if they're kept alone?<Possible, but highly unlikely, as the family as a whole tends to regard each other with antagonism, particularly in the confines of an aquarium.>  Any well informed and current information about them would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.<You have to keep several things in mind. Even with the best equipment available, humans can only spend a few hours underwater at any given time, thus any and all information, even based on wild animals, is at best extremely sketchy and 95% guesswork and assumption. To make matters worse, it's not possible to follow them into areas where they regularly travel as we are simply too large, with the final kicker being that the human eye, as you pointed out, may not be able to discern something that's blatantly visible to them. While I commend your dogged determination and the steps to which you are willing to go to solve the dilemma we currently face with the species, I'm forced to agree with the commonly accepted statement that, for now, a LOT more natural observation needs to be done before they are suitable as candidates for a home tank. With luck, the answer will be found before we wipe them out as a species, either by over collecting, or, more likely, the destruction of the entire reef ecosystem they need to survive. At present, the human race is the greatest single extinction factor since the asteroid/comet that likely eliminated the dinosaurs.> Philip

Formalin & Orangespot filefish (continued) <Hi, Mike D again> Thank you for the info.  It was very informative.<You're very welcome, and I try as best I can.>  Although I may seem paranoid about parasite infestations, I assure you from the stores I get some of my fish there definitely is a reason to.<THAT I can believe>  Many of the pygmy angels and a good 98% of the butterflyfish I've ever purchased in any store down here come up with some sort of clear parasitic crustacean that feeds on the host fish.<This sounds like most or all of the local stores are getting their fish from a local "jobber", rather than purchasing from a good importer, not at all unusual.>   The only exception to this rule is usually when I purchase them from excellent and well noted mail order stores from out of state.  What exactly the creature is eating, whether blood or tissue is not clear.  But when they go undetected for some time, (a matter of a few days), the damage they do to their hosts becomes very evident.  Trust me, they're extremely difficult to detect to a novice aquarist.<It sounds like it. I live in Florida and catch my own aquarium fish on a regular basis, so this is not a common parasite.>  I didn't know about this until someone working at a pet store showed them to me.  Weird lesions and raised bumps begin to appear.  Then the fish seem to mysteriously die.  I have treated against these little monstrosities using freshwater baths, but they're too stressful for the fish, hence asking about formalin.<The formalin IS much quicker, although it's likely if your fish live for years, as mine do, that some unexplained deaths may be tumors, as formalin IS a known carcinogen.>  What the heck are they?<Honestly, they sound like some sort of a fluke.>  They're clear.  Round in shape.  Seem to have a very short tail.  And they have tiny round sucker like appendages for mouths, with no readily visible eyes and no antennae.  When they die, they flake off looking like dead fish scales.  On occasion I also see a tiny mottled crustacean on butterflyfish.  It looks like a grain of black pepper at first glance. Could you please try to identify that for me as well?<Both sound extremely difficult and may well be larval stages of an isopod, but without microscopic examination it would be impossible to tell. fish lice look something like a wood louse or "rolly polly" and are often easily removed with tweezers. For what you're describing, I'd suggest keep using the formalin and avoid buying fish from there whenever possible.>  Thank you Philip

Delicate File Fish, Orange Spotted Filefish Question <HI, MikeD here> Hello, From the first day I began my salt water hobby I always wanted to keep the orange spotted filefish.<Neat fish, very common here> <<Umm, there is an identification difference going on here. MikeD is referring to a species in the tropical West Atlantic, and the querior is speaking of a Pacific... Cantherhines macrocerus and Oxymonacanthus longirostris respectively. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm. RMF>> But after researching I found that this was a very difficult animal to care for.<Not really, just not often offered for sale>  One year into my hobby my want for it has risen and I have decided to make a commitment to getting at least one.<OK. They are another personality fish> For the tank that it would  live in this what I plan to have. Tank. 10 gallon<Problem #1...too small for all but a tiny juvenile. These are active, like little "mini-triggers" Lighting. Fluorescent compacts. at least 200 watts)<not a problem> Rock and Sand. 5- 10 pounds of Vanuatu rock.  10- 15 pounds of live sand.<That part's good> Water Circulation. A couple of small pumps<OK> Heating. Brand which I have forgotten the name of.<As long as it works> Filtration. I plan to get a skimmer so that will be in the next month or so.  Also here is where I will need your help.  What kind of filter would you recommend for such a  small tank.<One that holds less water than the tank!**grin**> Corals. A mixture of Acropora corals.  I plan to grow the Acropora in my refugium on my 75 gallon tank along with the coral in the ten gallon.<AND here's problem #2. Many filefish just love SPS almost as much as they do anemones!> SO how does this sound and am I leaving out anything?  Please tell me if I am because I would like this to be a challenging yet not a killing change of path.<My suggestion is at least a 55 gal. tank w/o corals unless they are planned as live food. Sorry, but those are the facts. Just the facts. Badge #714>

Re: Delicate File Fish <Hi, MikeD here again> I only plan to keep on filefish would that be okay in the small space.   And yes the corals are for live food.<Sorry about the previous mix up, but I'd JUST seen the Atlantic OS Filefish offered for sale for the first time just before reading your earlier questions. In regards to O. longirostris, sadly these are another little beauty that is best left on the reef, and can be difficult even for public aquariums willing to spend thousands to house them.  Even though small I doubt that you could supply enough live SPS to last very long as their hummingbird movements belie a similar metabolism to the little bird counterparts as well. I can truly understand their appeal, but it's usually one that always has the same outcome in a home tank, with another living gem snuffed out in the process.>

Valentini mimic filefish 4/5/04  Connie here again.  <cheers my friend>  I see that Mary M. has a Valentini mimic filefish on hand and I am wondering if I could put him in with my current residents in my 60 gal. tank.  <hmmm... they stay small enough (unlike many filefishes which get way too large for even big aquaria)... but they are/can be nippy to both inverts and fishes>  I have two b/w clowns (1-1/2 and 2 inches) an arrowhead wrasse, about 1 inch, a boulardi wrasse 4 inches and 2 flasher wrasses, each about 1-1/2". I just have mushrooms, no corals, LR an DSB. I have always wanted one but somehow with all the various wrasses it seems like a strange combo.  <agreed>  All of my fish are peaceful, non-aggressive guys and DSB finally in good condition.  <very good to hear the DSB is back on track! Back to the file, though, do resist... they are just too nippy for most community fish or reef aquaria. Under the best of circumstances, they will still be too slow to compete with faster swimming community fishes like your wrasses for food>  Best regards to you. Saw Cheri again today which reminded me of your visit. Connie  <keep well my friend... Anthony>

Minimum tank size for Valentini mimic filefish Hi! I am planning to buy a valentini mimic filefish (Paraluteres prionurus) , and after browsing around your website's FAQ on filefish, I noticed that most people keep filefish in large aquariums around 50-60 gallons in volume. Unfortunately I only have a 29 gallon aquarium that has been running for 6 months already. Would it be fine if this is the only fish to be kept in a 29 gallon aquarium? I read that they grow up to 10cm, which is relatively small. <Unfortunately this fish is a "picker" and "cruiser"... that needs more space to move and lots of sedentary invertebrates for food. Not suitable for anything smaller than a fifty, sixty gallon system. Bob Fenner>

Filefish ID Hello, <Howdy> I recently bought a red tail Filefish and was curious about one thing. Of all the red tail filefishes I've seen on the internet, almost all of them are either red or yellow-orange in body color (not the tail).  The one I bought is blue with a red tail.  Is this normal?  I've done a search all over the net and did not see any blue red tail filefishes.  Was it mislabeled? Much Thanks.   Michael <Mmm, this is likely Pervagor spilosoma... and some do look more blue-bodied. Take a look at fishbase.org re this species: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=4373&genusname=Pervagor&speciesname=spilosoma Click on the one image shown and this will take you to all the pix they have to display. Click on Google Images on fishbase.org there for even a few more pix. Bob Fenner>

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

Longnosed Filefish Hi, <Hello>   I know this fish is hard to keep, and usually dies within a week. But, if this fish is provided with its exact needs would it live a much longer life? Yours Faithfully Aaron. <Of a certainty yes. There are a myriad of factors that go into an equation of likelihood of survival/mortality... species specific, size, sometimes sex influenced aspects... for relative resistance to capture, holding, moving... feeding response to whatever (if anything) folks are offering... In this case, this species does hold up pretty well to being caught, held and shipped, but most often is "stuck" in situations/circumstances of too small a space, not enough maturity to the system, too many more-aggressive feeding tankmates... and most especially a lack of appropriate foodstuffs. Improving on all these aspects/factors and more definitely improves ones chances of keeping this fish longer, healthier... even to and through reproduction. Bob Fenner>

When Bad Things Happen To A Good Hobbyist... Crew: <Scott F. here today> Below is a resend of an email 2 days ago that must've gotten lost. <I'm afraid that this one slipped through the cracks...We're sorry that we're too late...> Sad follow-up afterwards: Crew: I am a huge fan and avid reader of your most informative sight.  I own the CMA, BOCP and the brand new super deluxe RI.  I have attached a picture of my Mimic Filefish (Paraluteres prionurus).  Quick review: 55gal All-Glass (10 months), 130W PC, 39lbs LR, 4" DSB, BakPak2, 2 powerheads, 2x weekly 5%water changes, various frozen & dry foods (no heater this time of year in NJ).  My lights came on about 1/2 hour before this picture was taken.  In my limited experience with this fish (54 days - 27/27 in display/qt - size is about 2-3"), he seems to sleep like this, attaching his mouth to something (here it is fake coral skeleton) and letting his body drift.  However, up until today, he was always "up" and ready when the lights came on. Now, on to "what I have done": Over the last couple of weeks, my tank has been running a little hot, 82-86.  Since my house doesn't reach higher than 82, I thought my 130W PC's were adding a few degrees.  So, I tried shortening the day cycle from 12 hours to about 8.  Okay, so maybe for a few days I was zipping my timer forward so it wasn't technically "on a timer", nor was it exactly 8 hours.  Now, I figure, the fish is breathing, maybe I have confused his cycle.  I fed the him some frozen Mysis (his favorite) and he just let it go by.  I nudged him off this branch to remind him that is day time.  I did this because also about 2 weeks ago, before "lights out", he got his mouth stuck in my skimmer's pump when I had the surface trap off, and I had to gently pull him off, so I wanted to make sure he wasn't stuck again (his "lips" were puffy for awhile, like he had collagen injections!) Anyway, he swam around a bit and I was happy about it.  Then he ducked under some hanging algae, so I thought maybe he wasn't ready to be awake.  Now, a few hours after the incident, he is hiding between 2 LR's, seemingly back to "sleep mode".  Water tests 1/2 hour after lights on: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 2.5, pH 8.0.  Is this anything other than messing his schedule up, even though lights are on a few hours now and it is the middle of the day? <Well, he may have suffered some trauma to his mouthparts...With specialized feeders, such as certain tangs and butterflies, this can spell disaster...It may also hold true for filefish...> Also, can it be my paltry 130W PC's are adding the heat I mentioned? Thanks, Rich Follow-up: I am filled with extreme sadness at the loss of this magnificent fish :(. He was very friendly, even letting you pet him! <That was pretty cool, I'll bet!> I understand that sometimes fish just die inexplicably, but I cannot help but think it was my fault based on the above information. <Not your fault, Rich- just an unfortunate accident...Could have happened in any tank> After reading way too much information on your site, I am hesitant to make a move unless it is something I recognize that has been handled in my readings. <It's always better to "look before you leap" with marine fish husbandry! I agree that your cautious approach is correct, and will pay dividends down the line!> I have read before about "then I put this in, then I threw ice cubes, then I freshwater dipped my inverts, then I yelled at my wife, now what do I do?", so I did not want to make any rash moves. <Hey- that sounds a lot like one of the standard procedures that we recommend...LOL> It made sense that I threw off his cycle based on what I saw were he sleeping habits. <Well, the disruption of the fish's daily cycle could have been a source of stress, but I am more convinced that the potential injury that the fish incurred as a result of the skimmer incident was the more likely cause. Maybe he recovered for a time, but the possible damage may have been a problem> Oh, man, my first piece of advice to people who get very attached to their wet pets is DO NOT GIVE THEM NAMES!!  It makes it so much more personal when you lose "Blackie", as opposed to a Mimic Filefish. <It does, but a compassionate aquarist like you is the best friend a captive fish has...it's okay to get attached to an animal!> Anyway, thanks for reading and helping in so many ways.  I hope the sadness goes away with time.  Rich <I'm really sorry for your loss, Rich. Don't let this unfortunate experience discourage you from future aquaristic endeavors. With your diligent husbandry, enthusiasm, and obvious compassion, success is a given in the future! Hang in there...Chin up! Regards, Scott F.>

The Valentini mimic: Paraluteres prionurus. I recently acquired a Valentini Filefish, Paraluteres prionurus. <A very hardy and beautiful critter.> It's in a 60 gallon tank (250 litres) with plenty of live rock and coral rubble substrate. He seems to be growing quite thin. I thought at first it may be he was just acclimatizing to the tank, but after a week, he still doesn't appear to be accepting the foods I give my fish. <This is a very hardy fish, if it ate at the store it was purchased from, it should eat in your tank.> I feed my fish daily. With frozen Mysid shrimp, Nori seaweed, frozen brine shrimp, Spirulina tablets, and special marine pellets. <Try some frozen clam, table shrimp, small krill, and other types of pre-packaged frozen marine foods as well.> I alternate the food, so each day they get something different, but it still seems he isn't eating. I'm just wondering if there is any special thing I can do to make him eat, or something special to feed him. <For now, try go get hold of some live brine shrimp. The little writhing critters are usually too tempting to resist. It can be slowly switched over to frozen with time.> I've looked all over the net and haven't found much information on them, and was wondering if you could help me. <Since this is such a hardy fish, it may have been mishandled. Try live brine shrimp, it just might do the trick. -Kevin> Greatly appreciated Cayne

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!

Redtail filefish in distress  6/2/03 Dear Bob or Anthony: <cheers, Connie> I hate to be such a pest, but have found new homes for a couple of my more aggressive fish.  I have 2 clowns and a pygmy arrowhead wrasse in a 60 gallon FOWLR and DSB tank.  I have been waiting for a valentini mimic filefish, but in the meantime I ordered Pervagor melanocephalus, a red tailed small filefish.   <interesting fishes... but never have been a fave of mine for their aggression, sometimes large adult sizes, or very challenging diets. Indeed, there are a few hardy specimens in the trade. Most are not though> What arrived is a large sort of brown striped with yellow tail, some yellow in the body but shaped like the Pervagor.  He is from Hawaii, has no Latin name in Foster & Smith catalogue and none on the shipping papers.  He's pretty big, is already 4" although they said they would send me a 2" fish. He seems very gentle and eats well. <its very important to ID this species to discover its adult size (some are over a foot long!) and what it eats (many are obligate corallivores that will take aquarium foods but still die of dietary deficiencies). When in doubt, seek Fishbase.org  Just type in "filefish" in the field for common names and then browse the links and photos> I guess this is a two part question.  Number one, would valentini mimic file fish get along with the red tailed Pervagor in the same 60 gallon tank, <not recommended> number two, do you know what this other fish is.  He is shaped like a Pervagor, sort of, and has the same type of tail.  My main concern here is size, secondarily, color.  I checked your file fish website and couldn't identify him  There was another filefish from Hawai'i listed as the same type but his stripes were more like dots, otherwise he would be a fairly close match. <indeed... there are many like species. I took a peek on Fishbase and glimpsed a few tens of species listed> Thank you both for your time, and Bob, how I envy you.  I fell in love with Hawai'i a couple of years ago and we are returning in December, <way cool> need to check out the Big Island to move to, if project manager husband can get job in construction there or somewhere. <plenty of construction projects on the Big Island I hear ;) > Aloha and Mahalo to the two most important fish men in my life. Connie <Mahalo, my friend. Anthony>

Re: Redtail filefish in distress >Dear Marina: >>Good morning, Connie.  Tell me you haven't lost the fish! >Thank you so much for your help.   >>You're quite welcome, it's why we're all here. >We rushed out and bought a 35 gallon plastic tub and put all the appropriate hang=ons on it, then put the fish in.  He swam a bit and then fainted.  My husband shouted, "the fish is dead".  I thought I saw a slight change in position when I looked later, but after that he swam over to the PVC. My husband asked me if I had moved him, and I said no, so then we knew he was still alive but stressed.  This a.m. I couldn't see him anywhere, peeked into the PVC's and couldn't find him, then figured he was in some artificial foliage I had put in there for hiding purposes, and after several hours I figured he was dead, so I emailed the vendor to notify him of the death of this fish.  About an hour later I saw him swimming around.  I must tell you this has been a cliff-hanger, and I'm sure he'd be dead by now if you hadn't responded in a timely fashion.  THANK YOU SO MUCH.  THIS IS SUCH FUN!!!! >>LOL!  And talk about SUSPENSE!  Holy canoli, Batman, I think this fish is gonna live.  He may have been a little disoriented, he's been in all these clear containers for the past few weeks, maybe even couple of months, and then he gets plopped into this place where he got some privacy.  So he's not stressing over the space issue now, yeah?  I forgot to suggest making Selcon (or similar good quality supplement) a regular part of his diet--soak foods in it a few times a week, this is good for most all fishes.  Best of luck!  Marina

Black Saddled Mimic Filefish Dear Scott F: <Hey there, Connie!> I read a letter today from someone named Rich who recently bought one of the above.  I have been waiting for about three months for this fish and cannot locate it.  Is there some way Rich could let us know where he bought the fish?   If he bought him on the internet or he lives near San Francisco, I would love to know. Patiently waiting. (ha) Connie <Well, Rich- can you help out a fellow Filefish enthusiast/WWM supporter here? If Rich isn't in your area, you may want to check out Marine Center (see the link at the top of the page)...They can often obtain rare and unusual specimens for you. In fact, I can mention at least two occasions where I was looking for something that they didn't list at the time, and they actually emailed me a couple of months later when they finally received it! That's good service! Hope you find your filefish! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Filefish Foods? Dearest Crew: <Scott F. your Crew member today!> I went to my LFS (after I consulted with you guys) with my list in hand (pix too!).  Out of all of the fish we discussed on my list, they had only one of them, which is fine by me! <Part of the fun, though...Makes the "search" more enjoyable..> So, I "signed the adoption papers", and I am now the proud guardian of a Blacksaddled (or Mimic) Filefish - Paraluteres prionurus!  I must say, it is a gorgeous specimen, about 2" from the tip of his mouth to the Caudal Peduncle (add another inch if you include the tail)! So, the fish is in quarantine for a few days. <Glad to hear that you're embracing this practice! It will pay dividends down the line!> So far he has not eaten. I have offered shrimp and salmon at different times.  I have read that they also eat algae, and I have some in the QT, but he doesn't seem to eat it. He does rub his mouth on the glass, as if to pick up on microbes (hopefully!), but he does not seem interested in the bigger stuff.  I just need to know: 1) what else I should offer; 2) do they have a different primary diet from what I am offering; 3)when should I worry about him not eating, and 3) can you use a better picture for you website, because my guy is a beauty!?  Thanks, Rich <Well, Rich, these fishes will generally eat just about any of the commonly available frozen foods. I'd try some of the Ocean Nutrition foods, such as "Prime Reef", "Brine Shrimp Plus", or even frozen Mysis. These are all eagerly accepted by this species, and offer a good balance of animal and vegetable materials. I Would start to worry if he doesn't eat in about a week...You might try adding some liquid vitamin preparations, like "VitaChem", in his tank water. This may provide some nutrition (as fishes drink water), and may stimulate him to eat. As far as the pic is concerned, why don't you shoot it out to Bob and perhaps he can add it to the collection? Good luck with this fish! Regards, Scott F>

Re: The Filefish Files.. Scott (or current crewperson): <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight!> Thanks for the advice on feeding my Blacksaddled (or Mimic) Filefish -Paraluteres prionurus.  I had some frozen Mysis and, indeed, he eagerly accepted it! <Sweet! Mysis is my favorite all-around food...It seems like just about (notice I said "just about"!) every commonly-kept marine fish seems to love 'em. They're a lot more nutritious than brine shrimp, and come in a variety of enriched versions> Now I will try to offer some other stuff too. <Good idea> Do fish generally eat less while in quarantine, or should I offer him the "at least 3 times a day" recommended? <I would recommend 2-3 times per day, and make sure that you change water on a regular basis (you know me- I like the twice weekly/5% change) and employ sound husbandry...Quarantine is a great time to get fishes strong and healthy before introducing them into the display> To follow up on diet, as I read more information from other sources, they seem to suggest that this fish is going to eat just like the fish it mimics, the Saddled Toby - Canthigaster valentini.  This would mean I cannot keep this fish with inverts or corals, right?  Please say it isn't so (no corals yet, but inverts - yes)!  Thanks, Rich <Well, Rich- I'd have to say that he is not going to be entirely safe with corals...The best sessile inverts to be housed with this guy would be animals like anemones, which they will generally avoid...You could try it in a full-blown reef, but I'm afraid that it will be a potentially disappointing experiment! By the way, Connie, a fellow WWM reader, has inquired where you obtained your specimen from...Would you be so kind as to post a reply that we can put on the page? Thanks! Scott F>

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.>

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>

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>

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>

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>

Re: My Gray bellied Regal Angel... (actually Harlequin Filefish? Oxymonacanthus?) Hi, Thanks for the response. In reading a lot of literature out there I was under the impression that O. longirostris simply will refuse food. What I did not know is that it will eat, but will not assimilate the nutrients. I was told by a person in the Waikiki aquarium years ago that they feed their specimen with a special gel type food they make in-house. Perhaps someday a fish food manufacturer will figure out a mix of stuff that it will eat, digest, and assimilate. Until then... sigh. <<Thanks for the additional info. Cheers, J -- >>

Feeding Aluterus scripta Bob, What does the file fish Aluterus scripta feed upon in nature? Thanks, Josh <Of all the many times I have seen this fish (Aluterus scriptus) in the wild, I've never observed it feeding. Fishbase.org says: "Feeds on algae, seagrass, hydrozoans, gorgonians, colonial anemones, and tunicates." Bob Fenner>

Tassled Filefish Diet Suggestions Hi Bob, I am a somewhat experienced marine hobbyist and was wondering if you might have some creative ideas for feeding my large Tassled filefish. He appears to be a very avid eater, but seems only to swallow brine shrimp (which does not fill him up easily) and live ghost shrimp (which I often have a hard time finding locally). He shows no interest in other prepared frozen foods (1Trigger Food, Formula One, etc), flake food or pelleted food. He seemed interested in squid until I chopped it up small enough for him to eat; he eats it then spits it back out. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. I like to see my fish nice and fat, but he's starting to get a bit on the thin side. Thanks so much, -Stacie <Our slight coverage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm and Fishbase.org doesn't provide much: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=7975 in the way of clues... other than habitat... Would try fresh live rock (in hopes of discovering a favored food type)... and what you've been doing... along with soaking same in a vitamin prep. (stimulates appetite). Of Monacanthids, this species does pretty well in captivity... many specimens I've had contact with eventually take most all meaty foodstuffs. Bob Fenner>

Prickly leatherjacket and copper Hello Robert........again, last week I had occasion to use copper in one of my tanks as on close inspection of the occupants one night I noticed a fine covering of spots on most of them brought in I think on an unquarantined box [still not learned after twenty years]) <Still happens to me after more than thirty, sigh> any way I treated the tank with my home made copper remedy which is basically just copper sulphate dissolved in tapwater. (i know you don't approve). <Add about ten percent citric acid... this is what many Public Aquariums (just) do... with pentahydrate CuSO4 and "clean" water...> To cut an already too long story short by the time I got home from work all spots were gone and the residents an Asfur, Blueface, Bluering, Red Sea Raccoon, Boxfish, two Common Clowns and a Royal Gramma were all back on form and as fit as butchers dogs except a Prickly Leatherjacket that I found dead it was perfectly alright the night before and had a good feed so my question is are these fish susceptible to copper treatments the dose was pitched about right and the Angels are fine so sir what is your opinion......with thanks again Graham Hannan <Hmm, good question... I would rate the family (Filefishes) about a bit left to "medium" in their (Monacanthidae) copper sensitivity overall... not "that" sensitive... perhaps this individuals health was impugned already? Bob Fenner>

Longnose filefish... Mr. Fenner, I recently made a foolish, impulsive purchase of a Longnose filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris) from FFExpress. I saw how beautiful the animal was, and at an attractive price of $11, it was a sealed deal. I saw the "restricted" logo next to the name on the web site, but for some reason I assumed this was because it was a delicate shipper. The strange thing is, I am very particular to what I put in my tank. I have researched it all out and have put together what I consider to be a very healthy and enjoyable system. This is ironic because I learned almost everything I know from reading your most recent book, but I failed to peruse the section on filefishes closely enough to see that you strongly dissuade us from purchasing the Longnose filefish. <Ah, a "slip", not a "fall"... we all make them.> Is there anything else that this fish might consider eating? I visited wetwebmedia.com and saw that it eats specifically "Acroporid" coral.  <Yes, almost exclusively> What if I purchase Acroporid coral polyps on a medium-sized rock and let the fish eat. Will it strip the rock clean before anything has a chance to grow back?  <Hmm, depends on size of both... predator/prey... but most Oxymonacanthus die "mysteriously within a week or two regardless.> You may be shaking your head at my irresponsibility on this move, but at this point, I just can't stand the thought of watching my fish wither away. What a waste. I would greatly appreciate any extra information you may be able to divulge. Thank you. <To continue in your quest for more suitable species, specimens and further your efforts at informing others (as you have done here) in avoiding them... so that appropriate ones will be provided, others left in place.. Bob Fenner>

Prickly Leatherjacket Hi Bob. I did take your advice and Jason Kim's on the Remora Pro skimmer. I ordered it and I think it will live up to expectations. Thanks. <Ah, you're welcome> Many years ago when I first go into the salt hobby I saw a Prickly Leatherjacket- Chaetodermis pencilligera. I fell in love with this fish because of its "oddity" if you will. I can find little on it. Even your site only mentions it in passing. What say you? <Don't know much about this occasionally imported Filefish... but as far as the Monacanthids go it's quite hardy... generally will accept all foods, and does okay in a peaceful setting...> Is it a good 55ga. F.O. tank member? Does it grow to its full 10-12inch size in captivity?  <Not likely... maybe 3/4's this...> Is the 55 too small? Feeding? <Yes... ultimately. And see above> My other love is the Sailfin Tang. Zebrasoma desjardinii. (Either a Prickly or Sailfin. Not both at once) Is a 55 too small?  <Yes, also for the same reasons> I have always kept small to medium sized fish in my previous salt tanks. I have never gone into the 6-inch and up range and I do not want to keep either one of these two if it is not to their benefit (relatively speaking). any and all info is as always, most appreciated. Zimmy <In this case, I would seek out smaller average maximum captive size species... and save up for a larger system... Maybe apply for a job at a Public Aquarium... go diving... Bob Fenner>

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 

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? Thanks, 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  

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