Rabbitfish have many endearing qualities about them. They are generally attractive, relatively peaceful, and easy to care for. They also tend to be great algae-eaters, and are typically much more resilient than the ever-popular surgeonfishes, being both disease resistant and resistant of poor water quality.
Most rabbitfish would require a minimum tank size of 300 litres (80 gallons). Other than that, the only other thing to consider is having plenty of hiding places. Rabbitfish can be skittish and providing plenty of hiding places will go a long way in reducing that skittishness.
The genus Siganus comprises one of the few groups of venomous fish that enter the aquarium hobby on a regular basis. These fish have venom glands attached to their spines in their fins and getting stuck by one of their spines will leave you in a lot of pain. Fortunately, the venom won’t kill you unless you happen to have some unusual allergic response to the venom or get a mortal infection of the wound. However, there have been no recorded cases of this ever happening.
There are a couple of things that you should do if injured by a rabbitfish. The first thing that you should do is apply hot water to the wound, which will relieve the pain almost immediately as the venom is broken down by heat. The water should be as hot as you can withstand, however, do not use water hot enough to cause burns, obviously! The next thing you should do is see a doctor. Be prepared to explain exactly what type of fish you were injured by.
The worst thing you can do is try to treat yourself without seeing a doctor. In all cases where a skin-breaking wound is caused by a marine organism, a tetanus shot is required if you are not up to date. It is well documented that tetanus has caused deaths following marine organism-related penetrating wounds. Numerous other infections can also occur in conjunction with such wounds, including Vibrio in rare cases.
Finally, it should be noted that all of this can be avoided by treating your rabbitfish with respect and being careful when handling rabbitfish.
Rabbitfish have a remarkable ability to change their appearance at will. They will typically do this at night or when frightened. They adopt a faded appearance to blend in with their surroundings. Keep this in mind when you are looking for your fish in the middle of the night. Yes, we all do it! Just because you cannot see your fish doesn’t mean it is not there.
All rabbitfish are algae grazers. This quality alone makes them attractive to many aquarists. Rabbitfish will supplement the food that you feed them with the algae that grows on various surfaces in the tank. One less job for you to do! However, many will also eat meaty foods, such as tunicates, sponges, and corals.
All rabbitfish are algae grazers, however, many will also feed on a variety of invertebrates, including; sponges, tunicates and corals. However, the rabbitfish is less likely to make a meal out of invertebrates if well fed on algae.
Thus, it is important to give them plenty of plant matter in their diet, which may be primarily plant-based flake or frozen cube foods if you prefer. Spirulina flakes are also good, as is dried seaweed, such as nori.
Rabbitfish will also eat a variety of meaty food, including; zooplankton, brine shrimp, bits of fish, clam etc.
As with so many other types of marine fish, keeping rabbitfish with corals is a game of chance. There have been instances when rabbitfish have been fine in a reef tank for years, with no problems, only for the hobbyists to wake up one morning and find that some of their corals were gone. When rabbitfish do eat corals, most of the time they go for zoanthids, Acanthastrea or the branch tips of many other stony corals. Despite this, I would generally recommend rabbitfish as being reef safe. The best way to avoid your rabbitfish eating your corals is to ensure that it is well fed at all times. If the fish is well fed it is less likely to go looking for alternative food sources.
Rabbitfish are compatible with just about anything, except other rabbitfish. Sometimes an aquarist has managed to keep several rabbitfish in the same tank by adding several fish of the same size to a large tank simultaneously. In general, you would have to add at least four or five at once into a tank that is in the vicinity of 1200 litres (300 gallons). However, once again, this is a game of chance. If you would prefer to err on the side of caution, then keep to one per tank.
Foxface Rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus): The Foxface is the most common member of the genus Siganus offered in local fish stores. It can reach a maximum length of 25cm (10 inches).
One-spot Foxface (Siganus unimaculatus): This species looks identical to S. vulpinus with the exception of having a single black splotch on either side of its body below the dorsal fin. It grows to a maximum length of 20cm (eight inches). Note that this species might be the same species as S. vulpinus. The black splotch may just be a geographical trait.
Coral Rabbitfish (Siganus corallines): This species can grow to a maximum length of almost 35cm (fourteen inches) making it one of the bigger rabbitfishes. Still, it is most commonly less than 20cm (eight inches) in length.
Gold Spotted Rabbitfish (Siganus punctatus): This rather large species can reach a maximum length of almost 40cm (sixteen inches) with most individuals staying under 30cm (twelve inches).
Two-barred Rabbitfish (Siganus virgatus): This species can reach a maximum size of 30cm (twelve inches).
Masked Rabbitfish (Siganus puellus): This species is quite large and can reach a maximum length of 37.5cm (fifteen inches).
This article was sponsored by Nature at Work.