> Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
learn only 3 things about them ...
They graze (on algae) just like rabbits.
They have venomous spines. Don't handle them!
are among our favourite seafood. However, overharvesting
can affect their populations.
seen? These fishes may be common in seagrass areas on many
of our shores. They often lie quietly among seagrasses or hidden among
coral rubble, relying on their camouflage to avoid detection.
What are rabbitfishes? They belong
to Family Siganidae. According to FishBase:
the family has 2 genera and 25 species. They are found in the Indo-Pacific
and Mediterranean seas.
Features: Can be quite small (about
8cm or less) to quite large (about 15cm). It is named
for its rabbit-like snout ('siganus' means 'has a nose like a rabbit')
or possibly for its habit of grazing on seaweeds. It is also called
Spinefoot after the spines on its pelvic fins, a unique feature of
this family. It has tiny scales.
|Painful sting! The rabbitfish has spines on its fins
that are grooved and contain venom glands. These spines may be found
on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. The sting of these spines can
be quite painful to humans, but is generally not fatal. The fishes
use their spines in self-defence and not for hunting prey.
How to stay safe: Wear covered shoes. Don't handle rabbitfishes.
What do they eat? Most rabbitfishes
are herbivores, grazing on algae that grows on the sea bottom, seaweeds
and seagrasses. They have small mouths with tiny teeth. They are active
during the day, and sleep at night. Rabbitfishes often travel in schools,
sometimes in pairs.
Human uses: The White-spotted
rabbitfish (Siganus canaliculatus) is highly sought after
for eating during the Chinese Lunar New Year. At this time, the fishes
breed and their roe are particularly relished. Called 'Pei Tor',
the Chinese believe it eating it brings good luck. Other species are
important foodfishes in other parts of the world. Some of the more
colourful reef rabbitfishes are also collected for the aquarium trade.
Status and threats: None of our
rabbitfishes are listed among the threatened animals of Singapore.
But over-fishing of the White-spotted rabbitfish during their breeding
season can affect their populations.
Siganidae recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
canaliculatus (White-spotted rabbitfish)
Siganus chrysospilus=**Siganus punctatus
Siganus guttatus (Orange-spotted
Siganus javus (Streaked rabbitfish)
Siganus oramin=**Siganus canaliculatus
Siganus tetrazona=**Siganus corallinus
Siganus virgatus (Double-barred rabbitfish)