family holocentridae


The Holocentridae is a family of ray-finned fish, with the members of the subfamily Holocentrinae typically known as squirrelfish, while the members of Myripristinae typically are known as soldierfish. In Hawaii they are known as mempachi.

They are found in tropical parts of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, with the greatest species diversity near reefs in the Indo-Pacific. Most are found at depths from the shoreline to 100 m (330 ft), but some, notably the members of the genus Ostichthys, are generally found far deeper. Being largely or entirely nocturnal, they have relatively large eyes. During the day they typically remain hidden in crevices, caves, or under ledges. Red and silvery colours dominate. The preopercle spines (near the gill-opening) of the members of the subfamily Holocentrinae are venomous, and can give painful wounds. Most have a maximum length of 15-35 cm (6-14 in), but Sargocentron iota barely reaches 8 cm (3 in), and S. spiniferum and Holocentrus adscensionis can reach more than 50 cm (20 in). The squirrelfishes mainly feed on small fishes and benthic invertebrates, while the soldierfishes typically feed on zooplankton.


There are more than 80 species in eight genera:


  • Allen, Gerry. 1999. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and south-east Asia. ISBN 0 7309 8363 3
  • Debelius, Helmut. 1993. Indian Ocean Tropical Fish Guide. ISBN 3-927991-01-5
  • Lieske, Ewald, & Robert Myers. 1999. Coral Reef Fishes - Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean including the Red Sea. 2nd edition. ISBN 0-691-00481-1
  • Randall, John E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific.. ISBN 0824826981
  • Luczkovich, JJ and Keusenkothen, M "Behavior and Sound Production by Longspine Squirrelfish Holocentrus rufus During Playback of Predator and Conspecific Sounds.". In: NW Pollock and JM Godfrey (Eds.) The Diving for Science…2007 Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (Twenty-sixth annual Scientific Diving Symposium): Retrieved on 2008-06-14.

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