December 9, 2011, 3:03 pm
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Squirrelfish. Photo by Florent Charpin. reefguide.org

The squirrelfish (scientific name: Holocentrus adscensionis) is a member of the squirrelfish family (Family Holocentridae) that lives on coral reefs in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.


caption Squirrelfish. Source: Florent Charpin/www.reefguid.org


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum:--- Chordata
Class:------ Osteichthyes (Bony Fishes)
Order:-------- Perciformes
Family:-------- Holocentridae (Squirrelfishes)
Species:----------Holocentrus adscensionis (Osbeck, 1765)

Physical Description

Squirrelfish range from 15 to 61 centimeters in length. Their bodies have a blotches red or pinkish coloration and they have very large eyes.They have yellow on the front portion of their dorsal fins.


They are found in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina, USA and Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the West Indies and Caribbean Sea.  In the Eastern Atlantic Basin, they are found in Gabon, Angola, Saint Paul's Rocks, Saint Helena and Ascension Island.


Squirrelfish live on coral reefs at depths ranging from zero to 180 meters, but are most common between eight and 30 meters.

Feeding Behavior

Squirrelfish are nocturnal carnivores that feed on various species of crab and shrimp.Their large eyes assist sensory perception that is useful in nocturnal foraging.


Squirrelfish are nocturnal feeders, so that they spend their days hiding in coral crevices or under ledges. At night, they leave the reef to feed in sand and sea grass beds. During the day they defend their hiding places from intruders using calls produced by their swim bladders, displays and lunges. 


Spawning occurs from January through March and again in the fall. Spawning occurs in the water column. After the eggs hatch, larvae enter the pelagic stage where they remain until they settle on the reef. 

Conservation Status

The squirrelfish is not considered to be a species at risk.

References and Further Reading



McGinley, M. (2011). Squirrelfish. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/156227


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