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FAQs about Filefish Identification

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

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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>

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 querier 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>

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>
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>

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>

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