Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Waspfishes

Related Articles: Waspfishes, Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping Lionfishes and their Scorpaeniform Kin by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner, Spiky characters; An introduction to the spiny, sluggish oddballs of the families Batrachoididae and Tetrarogidae by Neale Monks

Related FAQs: 

Hypodytes rubripinnis in captivity.

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Biotope tank, Lembeh Strait, fdg. Ablabys     7/5/10
What's up?
I want to set up a Lembeh Strait biotope-type of tank with mainly Ablabys taenianotus, but some Pterapogon kauderni as well and maybe a bunch of a smaller fish that I've seen alongside the kaudernis. I haven't been able to find their ID, but they're yellow with a black&white striped head. Can you tell me a little about them and if they would make a good food source for the Waspfish?
<Are likely an Apogonid I've seen there as well, and yes as food, along w/ small Banggais. Please peruse here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cardinal.htm
and the linked file in series... and on Fishbase for the family... "Show species" under the family listings. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly Waspfish?  4/7/10
I saw one of these guys at one of my LFS, he was pretty big, about 3-4 inches. How big will one of these get? From what I read this seems pretty full grown.
<Correct. Maximum length seems to be about 10 cm/4 inches.>
I just got another 30G tank for really cheap with a decent filter. I am thinking of setting up another brackish tank for one of these, is 30G big enough?
What other fish can get a long with them.
<Anything big enough not to be swallowed. In other words, fish at least two-thirds the body length of the Waspfish and preferably deep bodies.>
Not a lot of info on WWM on these guys. Thanks!
<Some information on my Brackish Water Aquarium FAQ, here:
Essentially much like a saltwater lionfish in terms of care.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Butterfly Waspfish?  4/7/10
Wow, quick response, thanks Neale.
<No problem.>
All the pictures I see on the internet of these guys make me wonder. The one at my LFS was very decorative, he had lots of spines and all kind of camouflage. He was also suspended upside at the top of the tank, he definitely did not look sick. Is this normal behavior?
<Yep. Well-settled specimens are amazingly interactive, and I think much more like groupers than anything else. They hover about begging for food.
Colour varies somewhat between specimens and perhaps according to mood as well. Swimming upside down is unusual, but if the fish is otherwise fine, I wouldn't worry.>
I have yet to see one mention of these guys being an upside down fish or even see a picture of one like that. Any clue?
<Cheers, Neale.>

GSPs & Butterfly Goby (Neovespicula depressifrons)   4/24/08 <Hi again, Scott> Thanks for the reply. I think I had an overprotective mother type situation, because the patch does in fact seem to be going away on its own. <Good news!> I am keeping two GSPs in the 30 right now but plan to upgrade to a 55 gallon when I move if I feel that the two fish will get along ok together or stay out of each others way, which ever works. Right now the smaller one is no more than 1 1/2" max and the bigger one is maybe 2", but I think smaller, I am guessing. <They really should be moved into larger quarters soon. If they have been paired together as juveniles, there is a pretty good chance they will get along into adulthood.> The butterfly goby is bigger than the smaller GSP but will eventually be moved into something else when the SG gets up there. I wonder if you know anything about that fish actually, I have found very little information on it, I can't even find a scientific name on it, but I guess it is sold as 'butterfly goby' in the US. What I did find listed it as brackish, which is why I got it. Anyway thanks again. <Here is what I found on the goby: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/aquaria/brackfaqpages/Predatory_fish/(4k)butterfly-go.html ~PP> Scott

Butterfly goby with swim bladder disorder? Hi all, You guys get all my hard questions...thanks in advance for the help. I've got a butterfly goby (Vespicula depressifrons) that is acting like it has a swim bladder disorder. (I didn't think these fish even had swim bladders.) It's swimming like it's trying to keep itself from floating to the top of the tank. The fish is head standing, fins paddling madly, but it still tends to drift upwards. It is also slowly spinning like a top, but not like it has whirling disease (which is a much faster spin). The fish also looks a bit "inflated" around the belly. I'm not quite sure how long this has been going on, as I haven't seen it in a few days: it's been in the straight-Fw planted tank (which was overgrown with Val's) at the old place, and I've just moved it to a temporary tank at the new place. What I can do to help this fish? Would moving it into a brackish tank help? <This fish should be in brackish or marine.> (The reason I ask about the brackish tank: I have a molly who got pop-eye four times when I had him in a Fw tank. Each time, I'd put him in a hospital tank, add Epsom salts, and then top off the tank with old brackish water. That fixed his eye every time. Now I just keep him in brackish conditions, and he hasn't had pop-eye since.) <If the fish is new the behavior could be from a stressful transport. The inflated around the belly part indicates a disease however. medication in a quiet dark tank would be best. Furan based drugs, salt, stable temps, etc. Best of luck, Gage> Thanks, Ananda

Mainly brackish gobies Hi Bob! Well, the spinning molly died a couple of days ago. She wouldn't eat, even when I tried live black worms, so I wasn't surprised. <Sorry to learn of your loss> The ghost shrimp experiment is going well. They seem to be tolerating the SGs up to 1.008 without much difficulty once they get past the initial transition period. Some of them haven't survived the transition, but in those cases, the gobies haven't complained about the extra treats. Oddly enough, the candy-striped gobies aren't interested in the shrimp, even though they are easily large enough to eat them. I had an entertaining time watching one of my so-called "butterfly gobies" trying to eat a ghost shrimp that was bigger than itself. The shrimp got away for a while, and then goby was "stalking" the shrimp. Quite amusing. I don't know what the "butterfly gobies" really are, but they definitely aren't true gobies. They look sort of like miniaturized dwarf lionfish, mottled brown and beige and about 1" long, and nothing like the marine butterfly goby, Amblygobius albimaculatus. Do you know if this fish is a sculpin, or a Scorpaenidae, or is it something else entirely?  <Beige mostly? Maybe Stigmatogobius: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brgobioids.htm> LMK if a photo would of my fish would help; I don't have a photo of them yet since it's hard to get the digital camera to focus on them (it's a bit *too* automated). <Check to see if you can "turn off" the automated (focus) feature... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ananda

Keeping BW Fish in FW  1/4/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was wondering if the Leaf Goblinfish (Neovespicula depressifrons) could adapt to a completely freshwater environment. I have read that they are found in freshwater, brackish, and even fully marine waters. Most sites have them listed as mainly brackish, can they thrive in a freshwater tank or even adapt to it? <This species is considered BW.  Many BW species do swim throughout the 3 systems (FW/BW/SW).  Since you will be keeping it in an enclosed system, where it cannot swim up & down the salinities as it chooses, it is best to keep it in BW.  Although it will "tolerate" a life in FW, it will be happier, healthier & longer-lived (stronger immune system) in BW.  ~PP> Thanks

Waspfish ID  2/7/06 Bob, could you identify what kind of species of waspfish this is,  thanks <Don't know if I see it on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/waspfishes.htm nor on fishbase: http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=577&areacode= Do you? Bob Fenner>

Re: Waspfish ID  2/7/06 Bob, from the looks of it this is a "sea goblin", from either genus Chirodactylus or Inimicus. <Mmm, don't think so... does have the general appearance of a Waspfish...>   Either way it's a cool fish.  Perhaps the guys at www.grimreefers.com will have an idea -- they have forums devoted to scorpionfishes.  They have beasties similar to this one from time to time at my LFS. Regards, Dan <That and Scott Michael... send your pix along to both. Cheers, Bob Fenner> - Breeding Habits of Wasp Fish - I have two wasp fish. <I'm guessing you mean the freshwater variety as the saltwater variety are rather rare in the trade.> I have had them for at least three months. My question is how do tell the different sexes between the fish if it is even possible? <From everything I could find, it's not possible to tell the difference externally.> Also what conditions must be met in order for them to breed or mate? <Likewise, very little information available about their breeding habits. Would suggest you do like I did and search the web using your favorite search engine.> And lastly what type of birth do they have? Is it live or in eggs. and what do they look like? <Sorry... three strikes and I'm out. They seem to be very neat fish, but I just don't have a bunch of information on them. If we're lucky one of our readers will send us a chunk of their knowledge.> Thank you, Gfishman <Cheers, J -- >

- Breeding Habits of Wasp Fish, Follow-up - Thanks. <My pleasure.> I wasn't very detailed in my question. I have two salt water fish which I don't think makes a difference since you said,"<I'm guessing you mean the freshwater variety as the saltwater variety are rather rare in the trade.>" <Yup... still the case.> Anyway I have tried to research the web using every search engine I know of and I came up like you, a strike out! <Do check on fishbase.org - but again, are relatively rare in the trade. I'm still some of my previous statements still apply - difficult to sex, unknown breeding habits.> But I thank you for even replying to my questions. I enjoy your web site and maybe some one can answer my question. <Again, will be posted on the dailies where perhaps someone with more knowledge than me can chime in. Keep your eyes out there.> Yo fave fishman, GfishmanC
<Cheers, J -- >


Wasp or leaf?!   I just bought 2 of these sold to me as leaf fish do you know for sure if this is a deadly venomous species or just venomous I am not allergic to stings but I don't think that I would like to tempt death just to have a cool fish, thanks Ryan  p.s. someone also tried to sell me this fish as a leaf fish is this true or is this a waspfish? <These pix are of Ablabys taenionotus... a Waspfish, and venomous, yes, but not very dangerous. The species is very slow moving... and not "out to get you". Bob Fenner>

Left: Hypodytes rubripinnis   

Ablabys taenionotus

Unidentified goby/blenny/Waspfish? Hi guys, About two months ago I purchased a "symbiotic" goby/tiger pistol shrimp pair at an LFS. When I got them home and into their tank, they had nothing to do with each other. The "goby" took to the mushroom and made house under it, and the shrimp moved under the LR. A few weeks later, I picked up another goby, who is now happily living with the pistol. Fast forward to today... and reading through Michael's Reef Fishes vol. 1, the "goby" looks like nothing so much as  black cockatoo Waspfish! It's about 2.5" long, with the high fins of a Waspfish, black, with white vertical stripes on it's lips. I'm thinking it's a mimic of some sort though, as it has the same sort of antennae (for lack of a better word) that you would find on a blenny. It is a planktivore, shooting out of the LR at feeding time (Mysis, Cyclop-eeze, Sweetwater zooplankton, etc.), and darting back in, lather, rinse repeat till it's full. I tried taking a picture, of course, the camera has murder on it's mind, and should be avoided. In spite of a thorough search of my home, I don't have any suitable specimen containers to put it to take a picture of it. I'm going to remedy that tomorrow. In the meantime... is there such a thing as a blenny/goby Waspfish mimic? <Not as far as I know... but the oceans and pet-fish systems do sometimes make "strange bedfellows". Bob Fenner> Thanks guys (and/or gals),
Re: Waspfish mimic? Ok, I took some (mediocre granted) pictures. Hopefully these'll help ID the little guy. <Does look like an Ablabys to me PF. Bob Fenner>

Which Scorpaenidae it Be??  >Hi there guys.....  >>Hello.  >Yet another question that I'm hoping you and your staff will be able to help me with. I'm not entirely sure if I have purchased a leaf fish or a wasp fish.  >>What was it sold as?  >I will send a few photos, yet I can't seem to narrow it down.  >>Yes, you sent some seriously MASSIVE photos.. <giggle>, you darn near blew out our limit! I've "grabbed" it and reduced it, though. ;)  >To make the situation worse I just bought it, and I didn't know that it was venomous, right?  >>Oh YES. But if you're ever stung, as long as you're not allergic to insect stings the best thing to do is pee on it (no, I'm not kidding, it really works.. oh my, do I have a STORY about a customer hitting a leaf fish's tank!). In any event, both leaf and wasp fishes are indeed venomous. This is what happens when you buy first and ask questions later.  >It is?  >>I'm not lying.  >Either the leaf fish or the wasp fish?!  >>Either and BOTH, I swear it.  >I was hoping you could tell me if it was venomous or not and what species it is to be exact, your time and help and insight of course, is always more appreciated than you guys will ever know!  >>That all depends on who you ask, but for the most part, yeah? In any event, it's definitely venomous, do handle with care. If you are AT ALL allergic to stings be CERTAIN to have a "crash kit" handy. Let's take a look through my mini-marine fish bible... Alright, because of the HUGE variability in both coloration and external "decoration" (protuberances, frills, etc.), it *could* be either a leaf or wasp fish, however, based upon what I can make out of the mouth, I feel it's likely a wasp fish (mouth is much smaller than leaf fish's, not quite as downturned), however, I most certainly could be entirely wrong. However, do know that you do have a venomous resident. Marina  >Thank you in advance. 

Mysterious death of "butterfly gobies" (06/04/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Hi, I recently wrote you (today actually) about my saltwater aquarium and now I have a quick question about my fresh. I recently purchased two 'butterfly gobies' (however I now know they are the venomous freshwater Waspfish) and fell in love! <They are cute little things. If you have the same type of "butterfly gobies" I had, it's those first three spines on the dorsal fin that are the venomous ones. Mine were Vespicula depressifrons.> One of them stayed on the bottom mostly and the other swam around - both seemed healthy and content. However, when I came home from work tonight I realized one was dead and the other seems near! I'm frantic! I have absolutely no idea what's wrong. <Check your water quality... ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, temp, pH, etc. One thing to consider: what was the pH at the place you got them, compared to your tank pH?> The one who was swimming around is still alive but will fall to it's side or end up upside down as if he can't stabilize himself. I know that these fish are considered 'brackish' but I only purchased them for my freshwater tank after reading an article on wetwebmedia.com stating that they are considered mainly fresh. <There are a couple of species that are called "freshwater Waspfish".... I'm not finding the page you're referring to -- this site just keeps on growing!> (your site is my main information site) I would ask what to do, but I'm afraid that he'll be gone by the time you write back. Any ideas what caused this? <Other than significant differences in tank conditions between your LFS and your home tanks...not really, unfortunately.> I would really appreciate the info since I would really like to try keeping this intriguing fish again. Thank you once again, -Tara- <If you still have the fish, please send a photo -- it will help determine if they are indeed the same fish I had. Then I will have a better idea if my experiences might be helpful info for you. --Ananda>

"Freshwater butterfly grouper"? (04/13/03) A few years ago I found a few strange fish in a small store by my home called freshwater butterfly grouper. They were not doing well so the store keeper said I could have the lot to play around with. They had symptoms like a lot of salt or brackish when kept in wrong pH. I was moving to grad school at that time and revived the little evil fish then gave them back to the store owner. By the time I came back a few years latter the shop closed and could not find out more information. The only fish that comes close would be the Bullrout. Page 1082 seems like the best representative photo (Axelrod's atlas). <Not a book that I have, unfortunately...> I used to work part time at a wholesale fish store, I know that the names can be converted many times. i hope that you can trace the " fresh water butterfly grouper" that was given from the wholesaler. <This sounds kind of like a fish I used to have. It was called a "butterfly goby", though it was definitely NOT a goby! Mine turned out to be Vespicula depressifrons. Other "common" names for this fish include "freshwater Waspfish" and "leaf goblinfish". Try a Google search on "vespicula"; the first hit should have a photo. --Ananda>

Rockfish and cockatoo Waspfish Hi, Bob! Greetings from your great fan here in Hong Kong ! <Hello there. Soon, gung hay fat choi!> I recently bought a Cockatoo Waspfish <I keep missing taking this species picture, Ablabys taenionotus...> and ordinary Stonefish from the Philippines. I put them on my 80 gallon tank with some angelfishes and butterflies. I was browsing your website, but didn't find any articles touching extensively on these two beautiful fishes. <I do need to "move up" my writing schedule to include them... sooner!> However, I learnt that they are venomous, which I understand is different from poisonous. <Yes> Anyway, my concern is: --Will any of these two fishes introduce any toxins into the aquarium which may kill all the other co-inhabitants? If yes, when do they release these? <Related questions/answers. In general, no direct release of toxins... these are "squeezed into" a victim by mechanical force (stepping on them, biting/squeezing them in the mouth of a predator...), but can be potentially a problem should the fishes die, dissolve in your system w/o detection... unlikely> When they are attacked or when they die? <Ah! Both> My 9 year old son enjoys the critter looks of these two creatures as contrasted to the traditional angels and butterflies. But my daughter insists that they should be segregated, but I have no other tank for the moment. --What are the precautions I should take on these two creatures? <Really just to "keep an eye on them" daily... as when you feed your tank, and are working in it...> Warmest regards and wishing you the Cheers of the Christmas Season! Rgds
<Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: