Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Family: HOLOCENTRIDAE, Soldierfishes, Squirrelfishes

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head very spiny, bones very serrated
large eye
1 D, spiny part longer base
pelvics I, 7, origin behind pectoral base



Small to medium sized fishes (to 45 cm); body an elongate oval to elongated; compressed; top of head with ridges and canals; external edges of head bones strongly serrated and spiny; eyes very large; mouth oblique, moderately large, upper jaw extendible; teeth small, in bands; dorsal fin XI-XII strong spines, 8-13 rays, strongly notched between two parts; anal fin with IV stout spines, 3rd strong and long; tail base slender; tail fin forked; pelvics I, 7; body scales large, very rough; lateral line complete, 25-57 pored scales; usually red.

During the day holocentrids shelter in caves and under ledges, but emerge from their retreats at dusk and spend the night feeding in the open. Myripristis consume larger planktonic items such as crab larvae, whereas the species of Sargocentron feed mainly on benthic crabs and shrimps. Although most of the species are small, the flesh is considered good eating.

Squirrelfishes and Soldierfishes occur in all tropical seas, but most inhabit the Indo-Pacific region. The family contains eight genera with about 82 species; only six species in two genera are present in our area.