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Soldierfishes & Squirrelfishes

(Holocentridae)

Lizardfishes Trumpetfishes

The family Holocentridae has 2 subfamilies, Holocentrinae typically known as squirrelfish, and Myripristinae, typically known as soldierfish.

Members of these families are usually reddish with robust fin spines, and spines on the gill cover. The dorsal fin has 11 or 12 stout spines. Large, rough scales, with scale centres of the body often lighter (may be silvery white), possibly forming longitudinal bands. The tail fin is forked.

The preopercle spines (near the gill opening) of the members of the subfamily Holocentrinae (squirrelfish) are venomous, and can give painful wounds. Soldierfish do not have this spine, and can also be distinguished from squirrelfish by their more blunt snouts.

The squirrelfishes mainly feed on small fishes and invertebrates, while the soldierfishes typically feed on zooplankton. Members of these families are largely nocturnal (feed at night) and hence they have relatively large eyes. During the day, they typically remain hidden in crevices, caves, or under ledges.

2 species found on this page.

Doubletooth Soldierfish

Myripristis hexagona

Doubletooth Soldierfish (Myripristis hexagona) @ Koh Haa

Myripristis hexagona @ Koh Haa

The doubletooth soldierfish is red with broad pink scale margins, pale, white or slightly reddish fins, broad red dark band on rear margin of gill cover. Up to 34cm long, but generally observed 15 - 20cm.

This is a nocturnal fish hiding in caves or beneath ledges by day, feeding on plankton such as crab larvae at night. Found in small groups in large crannies, under ledges, in caves, sometimes with other soldierfish.

Redcoat Squirrelfish

Sargocentron rubrum

Redcoat Squirrelfish (Sargocentron rubrum)@ Koh Haa

Sargocentron rubrum @ Koh Haa

The Redcoat Squirrelfish has alternating redish brown and white stripes, often dark spot on tail base and on bases of rear dorsal and anal fins. Two white bands behind the eye. White margin on lower fins.

Males Redcoat Squirrelfish are slightly larger than females. This species is typically 17 - 18 cm when 1 year old, and after 3 years reach maturity around 23 - 24 cm.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Soldierfishes & Squirrelfishes

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