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FAQs about the Tasseled Filefish, Chaetoderma pencilligera

Related Articles: Filefishes

Related FAQs: Filefishes, Filefish Identification, Filefish Behavior, Filefish Compatibility, Filefish Selection, Filefish Systems, Filefish Feeding, Filefish Disease, Filefish Reproduction, Filefishes eating AiptasiaOrange-spotted Filefishes, Oxymonacanthus,

Tassel file fish... injury?  – 09/24/12
Hey guys.  Can you please help me with identifying my tassel filefish problem?  This happened in just 2 days.  I have him in a hospital tank and I’m treating him with sulfa. 
I have other meds but I was guessing it might be something with his gill.  Can you please let me know what I can do for him?  Thanks in advance!!  You've always helped me and I appreciate it greatly!!  Tammy
<This looks to be (the reddish area?) a physical trauma... likely in capture or other in-transit handling this fish got whacked. Not much to do other than keep the system/area quiet... and hope. Bob Fenner>

Re Tassel file fish... injury?  – 09/24/12
Thanks Bob.  I've had this fish for 5 months.  I do have a tube anemone...
thinking maybe he got close to him.

<Yikes... yes. Cerianthids are very stinging... trouble in smaller volumes>
 The anemone is in the corner of a 155 gallon tank.  The filefish hangs out on the other side all day and night.
If this is from the tube anemone, can I treat him with something else? 
<Not really; no. I would not add to the stress here>
The sulfa is triple sulfa from API.  Should I take him out of the hospital tank and put him back in the display tank so he is in his regular surroundings?
<At this point/juncture, I would leave the fish where it is>
Sorry for the questions I just really don't want to lose him.  He has been eating fine even with the swollen face... forgot to tell you.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re Tassel file fish... injury?  – 09/24/12
Thanks... hopefully he will heal.  I'll finish his treatment and put him back into his regular tank to lower his stress level.
<Sounds good. BobF>
Re Tassel File hlth.  – 09/25/12

Update on filefish:  last night to no avail he died.  So sad... he was a favorite.  I did try something that I've had success with my seahorses but it didn't help him.  I have these insulin needles that I got at the pharmacy and tried to pull out the infection which I was able to get 70 units (about 45 cc) worth of infection out.
  Then I mixed a tiny tiny amount of EM Erythromycin powder from API with 10 cc of salt water and injected this into
the pocket of infection.  Made him eat some Nutramar with the syringe and hoped to see him this morning.  I really did try to save him but the infection was too far along.  I just wanted to let you know what I tried as I'm sure not many would be brave enough... this worked on a female seahorse with an infection in her neck with great results.
<Have done similar myself>
 Oh, I have the tube anemone in a bucket ready to go to a salt water warehouse.  Thanks for all your advice Bob... you're great!
<We all doing what we can Tam. BobF>

Re Tassled File, hlth, injecting med.s    9/25/12
Hope you had success with yours.
<Mmm, at times... esp. w/ the availability years back of Chloramphenicol (in a succinic acid base)>
 Decided to use my 75 gallon salt tank for an anemone only display.
Hopefully things will go good for awhile.
Take care.
<And you, B>

Aiptasia help: Using fish for Aiptasia Control 2/1/2010
<Hi Rick.>
Have a reef tank with Aiptasia problem. Have read that Tahitian Butterfly and Seagrass Filefish may eat these things. Your input on these two fish would be greatly appreciated.
<I cannot speak for the butterfly, but the Bristle-Tail Filefish is a good Aiptasia eater. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm >
Out of the 2 which would be a better addition and what else in my reef will they eat ?
<Remember that any fish that eats Aiptasia is likely to at least sample other invertebrates. Have a read here:
and here:
personally, I've had the best luck using Kalkwasser and a syringe. >
thank you

Tasseled File Fish Tank Requirements -- 10/08/09
Hello Bob, Shea here.
<<Hiya Shea'¦Eric here this morning>>
I have a question for you this evening regarding a Tasseled File Fish.
<<Ahh'¦have kept in the past'¦a very, very, neat animal>>
I just recently bought a small one at my LFS measuring about 2" in length. He is currently residing in my 75 gallon FOWLR with a Blue Spot Jawfish, Mystery Wrasse, and a Royal Gramma. I have read that they require a 75 gallon minimum. Some online fish dealers even say the minimum requirement is a 50 gallon aquarium.
What is your take on this?
<<This fish does get large'¦ If memory serves, it can grow to about 16' or so in the wild. Though it wouldn't be expected to get quite that large in captivity, and even though it isn't considered a 'fast mover' (except at feeding time!), this deep-bodied fish will do best for the long-term in a system of a couple hundred gallons or more. You will also find this fish to be intelligent'¦and it will also learn to eat just about anything. Ghost shrimp make for a good 'occasional' treat, but a regular diet of New Life Spectrum pellets along with some quality frozen fare (Mysis Shrimp, Krill, etc.) will keep it healthy and active
I would appreciate any advice you could give me on this.
<<I hope I've been helpful>>
Thanks, Shea
<<Good luck with your new acquisition'¦ Eric Russell>>

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.> 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> 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 

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>

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>

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

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> 

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>  

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