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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Fish living inside Acropora    1/26/12
Hello Gang.
I recently purchased an Acropora about 5" in diameter.  Inside the coral there is a crab (your typical smooth shell crab that usually comes with it).  I also noticed there is a small purple fish with black eyes hiding inside it.  The fish is flat body about 3/4" long.  Is the fish harmful to the Acropora?
<Mmm, not likely... from the color, desc., is likely a Caracanthid:
 Should I remove it?  I don't want to remove and risk injuring the fish if it is harmless.
<I wouldn't remove... an interesting addition... is venomous if you do intend to handle>
Thanks in advance.
Kind regards,
Vincent Cheung
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish living inside Acropora    1/26/12

Hello Bob.
<Big V>
Thanks for the quick response.
Yes the fish does resemble the Caracanthid now that you pointed me in the right direction.  I am surprised it is more related to the lionfish then a goby.
<Neat eh?>
That was a lucky purchase to have a fish as well as a crab with the Acropora.  Thanks for the heads up on the venomous part.
<Who said heads up?! Huh, I'll take some of that!>
<And you, BobF>

Velvetfish  6/13/08 Hello, Bob, <Felicia> Just thought you might want a better photo of my velvet fish, Caracanthus madagascariensis. <Ahh, thank you> I went to IMAC this year and specifically set out to meet you. I informed everyone to introduce us if you were spotted. You were sitting at the table next to us (seahorse.orgers) at the banquet and I planned to introduce myself afterward, but you had already left. Figures! Next conference :) <Rats! I thought my head was going to explode with TomF's talk on the falsity of global warming... Sheesh! Do be more old please next time we're near! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Turkish anemone ID and Velvetfish info  2/2/08Hello Crew, <Felicia> Thank you for your website. I go here every day, it is very helpful to me. <Ah, good> I have been trying to ID this anemone for months. These photos was taken by a friend in the Sea of Marmara. He asked me to ID it, and I have no clue! Can you help? <I wish I had my copy of Helmut Debelius "Mediterranean and Atlantic Invertebrate Guide"... Do look for this work: http://www.nhbs.com/mediterranean_and_atlantic_invertebrate_guide_tefno_131276.html am pretty sure I've seen this distinctive pedicle before...> And for your Velvetfish page, I thought you might like to post one of my photos. This is my Caracanthus madagascariensis. <Thank you for this. Will post with credit to you> He lives in my 55 gallon aquarium with some small gobies and pipefish and miscellaneous inverts like corals, small crabs, and a squat lobster. He hides constantly. I've heard they may eat small fish, but he hasn't eaten anyone, yet. He is very easy to feed, not picky, I feed Cyclops, mysis, etc. I don't feed pellets, but I bet he would eat them. I'm definitely more careful about where I put my hands, but I'm not overly worried that he will sting me. Even though he rarely moves, I really enjoy watching him. <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Orbicular Velvetfish... gen. husbandry   2/27/07 Hi Bob and company! I am writing with more of a fishkeeping experience rather than a question, but I hope perhaps something I say can be useful to someone else. <Good> A few months ago I purchased a Hawaiian Orbicular Velvetfish (Caracanthus typicus). <Man! I wonder how folks get these out of the Pocilloporids there?> At first I had a great deal of difficulty locating any information for this species... in fact, I still don't know a whole lot about them. Here is what I DO know: This fish is doing fantastic in my tank. I have Marshall Island live rock with a good number of crevices and this fish spends the majority of its time holed up inside there, I would guess because its natural hiding spot is wedged inside Acropora coral. <More Cat's Paw in HI... little Staghorn coverage in the principal islands> This fish has not bothered any of the corals, fish or invertebrates in the tank (including a sand dwelling watchman goby and several small hermit crabs). The fish is more active at night... I think the bright light and quick movements during the day frighten him. He is a voracious eater. I have moved to feeding him small sized prawn (body only) and this seems to satiate him. Otherwise I think he could easily eat more Cyclop-eeze than my water quality would allow! I feed him using a long bulb syringe and he has become accustomed to leaving his little crevice and taking the food right from the tip or the syringe, <Neat> then quickly darting back into the rock. The fish often hangs upside down or perfectly vertical, I would think in a manner as to keep an eye out for passing prey while maintaining a stealthy appearance. <Plus avoiding predators... attention> I have found this fish to be an interesting and conversational addition to my tank. The fish requires a bit extra work. As I said, I spot feed the fish which takes a bit of time and effort, and I do feed him hearty amounts. The fish is not a visible one and it won't make a "showpiece" fish as it will largely stay hidden from view. Although it has been peaceful in my tank I can indeed picture this little guy scooping up a very small goby or invert that wandered too close to its hiding spot. For completeness sake I should mention that I have seen this fish listed at online retailers as a "gum drop goby" but I don't think this fish has any relation to the Gobioids family. <Correct... is a Scorpaeniform...> So if someone is looking for an interesting but elusive fish, and they don't mind sacrificing some potential tissue loss on their acros (or they just supply it with some holey live rock) then I think this critter is worth reading up on and keeping an eye out for. I truly feel it is worth the extra effort to keep such an odd and unique fish. Thanks! <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

Caracanthus typicus   1/21/06 Hello WWM crew.                            Just a quick question please. I saw a rather interesting little fish in my LFS today. They had it labeled as 'Red spot coral goby', <Mmm, not a goby, gobioid... but a relative of lionfishes/scorpaenoids, a Velvetfish: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=52705&genusname=Caracanthus&speciesname=typicus> said it was reef safe, similar in habit to some of the Hawkfishes but more nocturnal, and grew to about 5cm. I generally dislike common names as they're so inaccurate, several fish being given the same name and increasingly silly names to make fish sound more attractive! More research has found that I think it's in fact a type of scorpion fish, Caracanthus typicus from Hawaii - known as the 'Red spot coral croucher', or 'Hawaiian Velvetfish' - also that it is venomous like many in it's family! <Yes... almost impossible to photograph... stuck in Pocilloporid coral... and how did they collect it?>       My question(s) really is as follows. Is this fish dangerous venom wise, <Mmm, not practically... Unless you were to catch it and squeeze it big-time in your hand> and is it reef safe ? <Mmm, yes...> It did seem to have a big mouth, but was a small fish. I'm just trying to find out as much as possible before considering adding it to my reef tank, as in a previous incarnation I was a collector of weird freshwater catfish and this little chap had a lot of their finer characteristics !                           Thank you for your time.                                                   Bob Mehen, Cornwall UK. <Have seen these many times (in Hawai'i), and a few times in captivity (my pix on WWM)... know little re their captive husbandry. Cheers, 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
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