A mostly red, tropical reef fish, the Hawaiian squirrelfish Menpachi stays in underwater caves in the daytime, swimming out after dark to hunt for food in the shallow waters over the reefs.They eat crabs, invertebrates, zooplankton and small fish. Because they are active primarily at night, their large eyes are important, as nocturnal creatures. The Menpachi fish is good to eat and is often hunted by spear fishermen. It is not a large fish, usually not more than 12 inches in length.
Although they are edible, some of the other species of squirrelfish are not generally used for eating, as they are small, in general, they have rough scales and their spines are sharp.
The squirrelfish named ala’ihi by Hawaiians has red with multiple white stripe or silver stripe colorings. The name of this fish is often seen without the apostrophe as alaihi. It is often the subject of paintings and posters as it is an attractive, colorful fish.
In addition to those found in the waters near Hawaii, various species of squirrelfish live in warm waters near the shores of the United States from North Carolina to Florida. They can also be found in warm shoreline waters of Bermuda, parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the West Indies and the Caribbean plus south to Brazil in South America.
In regards to keeping squirrelfish in an aquarium, it is possible but it is essential for them to be in a large tank (any with over 70 gallons of water is best), with sufficient places for them to hide (such as in spaces amid rocks and other types of crevices). Because they are a nocturnal fish that avoids light and eats at night, keep the lighting low and feed them on the schedule that they are used to (at night, in the dark or with very low light). They can be fed shrimp (live feeder shrimp or freeze-dried), crab, chopped marine meats and some types of worms. Squirrelfish kept in an aquarium do not usually grow as large as those living in their natural habitat, with aquarium squirrelfish usually growing to around 5 inches in length where some species in the wild have been known to be as much as around 24 inches long at full growth (such as the Holocentrus spinifer, a Pacific squirrelfish).
Nature has a built-in defense system for squirrelfish. This is their ability to make sounds by vibrating their swim bladders. These noises warn other squirrelfish of danger and may also be used to warn off fish that may be only a small threat to the squirrelfish. The sounds range from a grunt to clicking, where the grunt may be used more to warn small threats to stay away and the clicking as a signal that there is a larger threat that the squirrelfish should move away from.
Squirrelfishes are in the Holocentridae family and the subfamily Holocentrinae. The name may also be seen as two words: squirrel fish. Under the Genus Myripristis is the similar soldierfish.
There are many different species of squirrelfish, a sampling of which are: Crown, Dwarf, Lattice, Sabre, Spotfin, Threespot and Tinsel.
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The site fish.explore-topics.com/articles is a great resource for information about many different types of fish and anything related to the fish topic.
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