Diet, Lifespan, Mates and Venom

Diet, Lifespan, Mates and Venom


Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Siganus vulpinus
Other Names: Foxface, black-face rabbitfish or common foxface
Venomous: Yes 
Lifespan: 5 years
Size: 8-10 inches
Care: Easy
Diet: Herbivore, algae and zooplankton plus some invertebrate foods and pellets
Water Conditions:  72°F-82°F, 8.0-8.4pH, 8.0-12.0dKH, 1.020-1.025SG
Tank Size: 90 gallons minimum (125 gallons is better)
Behavior: Territorial when mature
Breeding Difficulty: High, no records of being done in captivity

Known for their striking appearance and charming personalities, we consider the Foxface Fish a great addition to any saltwater tank. In this guide we’ll cover essential tips on creating the perfect environment, feeding habits, handling its venomous spines and general care requirements to ensure your fish thrives. 

We had a great time writing this guide so we hope you have a great time reading it, let’s dive in!

Species Summary

The Foxface Fish, also known as the Foxface Rabbitfish, is native to the western Pacific Ocean, specifically the Indo-Pacific region. They thrive near Indonesia, the Philippines and within parts of the Great Barrier Reef. While they’re occasionally spotted in pairs, most of them live alone in the shallow reefs among the coral polyps.

They’re bold saltwater fish with stunning coloring and confident personalities. Foxface Rabbitfish, or Siganus vulpinus, are typically herbivorous and have an insatiable appetite for algae. 

Author Note: Foxface Fish are generally easy to care for but you still have to be mindful of their venomous spines and nutrition needs.

Appearance

The rabbitfish’s body is completely yellow except for the face. The prominent facial mask is a mix of black and white, with black covering both of the eyes and descending the throat. It’s also easy to spot the bright, spiny dorsal fins that contain venom to ward off predators.

Different Types of Foxface Fish

Different Foxfaces can vary in overall size, coloring, lifespan and price. While many of them still have the same care requirements, it’s important to fully research your desired rabbitfish before adding it to your tank.

  1. Yellow Blotch Rabbitfish. The Siganus guttatus has recently gained popularity with hobbyists due to their charming beauty and dedicated algae-eating behaviors. This fish’s body is fully brown and covered with a camouflage pattern of orange dots. They also have a false yellow eye spot on their posterior to confuse and distract predators.
  1. Foxface Lo. Check out the Siganus vulpinus if you’re interested in a rabbitfish with a yellow-brown body and a dark chest. They typically have very light faces and speckles sporadically dotting their lower halves. The Foxface’s protective dorsal spines allow them to be safely housed with more aggressive species.
  1. Gold Spotted Rabbitfish. The Siganus punctatus comes from the Coral Sea and has a beautiful brown body covered with gold spots. These camouflaging dots can even be seen in a gorgeous pattern around the fish’s eyes.
  1. Magnificent Foxface. The Siganus magnificus is a herbivore with a peaceful temperament that can grow up to nine inches long. This uniquely colored fish has a white face with a distinctive black band. The rest of the body is part white and part dark brown with yellow or red-fringed fins. While they’re generally reef-safe just like other Foxfaces, they can nip at soft corals.
  1. Blue Spotted Rabbitfish. You’ll need a large aquarium to house the impressive Siganus corallinus. This rabbitfish has an oblong body shape that’s mostly yellow. As they age, they develop eye-catching blue dots that spread along their body. Fortunately, Blue Spotted Rabbitfish can also be kept in pairs.
  1. Two Barred Rabbitfish. A Siganus virgatus can reach up to an impressive 11 inches long. They’re generally peaceful and have various blue markings with a yellow tail and back. The eyes as well as the gill plate have prominent black bands that run up to the dorsal spine.
  1. Bicolor Foxface. A Siganus uspi has one of the more eccentric coloring patterns. Two-thirds of their body is dark brown while the rest is yellow. They also have a thick white band that starts below the mouth and extends to behind the eyes.
  1. One Spot Foxface. The elegant Siganus unimaculatus is distinct from other rabbitfish due to the eyespot on their lower body. This dot can range from a nearly perfect circle to a unique blotch. Typically smaller than others of their species, a single One Spot Foxface can live in a 70-gallon tank at a minimum.
  1. Decorated Rabbitfish. You should only consider getting a Siganus puellus if you have at least a 180-gallon tank. This large yellow fish needs a lot of room for exploration and feeding. They’re best known for their distinct yellow markings and the black stripe that runs from the mouth to the top of the head.

Lifespan

In ideal conditions, your Foxface Rabbitfish will have a lifespan of about 5 years. These fish are strictly wild-caught, which can affect how long they survive in your tank.

Average Size

An adult Foxface Fish will on average have a size between 8 and 10 inches. This size can vary depending on their nutrition, environment and overall care. Gender doesn’t play much of a role as males and females reach about the same size.

Foxface Fish Care

Both novice and experienced hobbyists alike will have no problem caring for a stunning Foxface Rabbitfish. These fish are incredibly hardy and will easily adapt to a variety of tank conditions. One of the hardest issues with handling Foxfaces is ensuring you don’t get pricked from their spines.

Tank Size

These large and active Foxface Fish need a tank that’s at least 90 gallons but if you can fit a larger size then go for a 125-gallon tank. They require plenty of room to swim and graze without bumping into others or becoming territorial. 

Water Parameters

Water temperature: 72°F to 82°F

pH levels: 8.0 to 8.4

Water hardness: 8.0 to 12.0 dKH

Specific gravity: 1.020 to 1.025

Tank Setup

Ensure your rabbitfish leads an enriched life by providing plenty of live rock and hiding places. In addition to keeping them busy, this is also where they’ll find most of their food.

While you don’t need any special decorations, you can’t go wrong with natural caves or tunnels. These fish tend to be shy and often dart into hiding places when they feel crowded.

Author Note: Their natural habitat in the wild is in a region with a lot of rocky surfaces and corals. Replicate this in your tank with a rough substrate where microalgae can thrive.

Lighting

Foxface Fish are used to environments with low lighting. Too bright of lights can be uncomfortable for your rabbitfish and lead to unnecessary stress.

Acclimation

To safely acclimate your fish, use the reliable drip method. Place your new arrival in a bucket and slowly drip water from your aquarium for about an hour at three drops per second. You’re welcome to do this process for up to two hours to ensure they’re completely ready.

After they’ve been acclimated, you can scoop them out with a net and place them gently into your tank. Avoid letting any of the water mixture in the bucket into your aquarium. All new fish should undergo a thorough acclimation process to avoid shocking their delicate systems.

Are Foxface Fish Reef Safe?

Yes, Foxface Fish are reef safe as long as their appetites are sated. If they’re hungry, they’re more likely to nip and bite at your corals. They may also inadvertently damage your invertebrates when going for nearby bits of algae. It’s best to keep your corals well-cleaned and watch out for any signs of coral stress.

How Bad is the Foxface Rabbitfish Venom?

A Foxface Fish’s dorsal fin has several strong and incredibly sharp spines with accompanying venom glands. The venom can be very painful if the spines manage to break your skin. When these fish feel cornered or threatened, they’ll lower their heads and ram the threat with their spiky backs.

The venom won’t kill you, but it can cause lasting pain. Ease the wound by running your hand under warm water to break down the harmful proteins in the venom. You may want to see a doctor just to make sure bacteria didn’t enter the wound. 

Author Note: Whenever you’re moving structures in the tank or cleaning, protect your skin by wearing long, thick gloves.

Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

Foxface Rabbitfish are hardy to most diseases but can still be affected by common saltwater illnesses like marine ich, white spot disease and black ich. Rabbitfish are unique in that they regularly shed their slime coat, which is one of the major reasons behind their natural hardiness. Rather than risk a disease spreading during an outbreak, you should quarantine your affected Foxface Fish in another tank.

It’s also not uncommon for these fish to occasionally get scraped, but these minor injuries heal in a few days. Watch out for any labored breathing or changes in their swim patterns that may indicate an infection.

Food & Diet

As herbivores, Foxface Fish love a diet based on algae and zooplankton. They can be even better suited to keeping your aquarium clean than tangs. Your mature reef tank should have a healthy amount of microalgae and biofilm. However, as they require an abundance of algae, you’ll often need to supplement their diet with invertebrate foods and nutritious pellets.

Feel free to add live or frozen mysis or brine shrimp options. You can also give them fresh vegetables like lettuce or even cucumbers. If you find your rabbitfish is biting at your corals, increase how often you feed them and diversify your offerings.

Behavior & Temperament

The personality of your Foxface can vary greatly. For example, you may find your new fish is confident and active during the day, or they may instead choose to hide or hang out toward the bottom. Generally, rabbitfish tend to swim around the middle of the tank. Mature Foxface Fish can become territorial with others of their species.

Author Note: While they can live successfully in pairs, you’ll need a significantly larger tank. Keep a watch out for your rabbitfish blowing bubbles at the surface of the water. This is assumed to be a way for them to eat any nearby algae growing above the waterline.

Foxface Fish Tank Mates & Predators

Due to the Foxface Fish’s venomous spine and peaceful nature, it gets along with everything from cleaner shrimp to more aggressive lionfish. However, the protective spine won’t keep them safe from very large predators that can fit the rabbitfish in their mouths. You should also be aware of your fish’s territorial instinct, which may flare up against their own kind.

Consider sticking to community fish or medium-sized predators like pufferfish. If you have several shy fish species, you may find your Foxface’s confidence draws them out more frequently into the open.

These are a few excellent tank mates for your Foxface Rabbitfish.

Breeding

Currently, there is no record of successful Foxface Fish breeding in captivity. Hobbyists often struggle to create successful pairs as there’s no way to tell the males and females apart. Out in the wild, they pair up when they’re around three to four inches long. Since they’re pelagic spawners, they come together high in the water column and drop their eggs into the currents below. The eggs then float amongst the plankton before hatching.

Many reef vertebrates are thought to use the motions of the tides as well as the moon cycles to coordinate ideal times for egg-laying. Since these tidal conditions can’t be replicated in a home aquarium, rabbitfish are nearly impossible to successfully spawn. 

Author Note: Foxface Fish are abundantly available in the wild, so there isn’t any significant commercial interest in developing a successful captivity breeding program.

Wrapping Up

We hope you enjoyed this care guide and agree with us that the Foxface Fish is truly a captivating addition to any saltwater aquarium. Always remember to provide a spacious and suitable environment, maintaining water quality and keeping an eye on its venomous spines.

With proper care and attention, your Foxface Fish will flourish, becoming a centerpiece in your marine oasis. If you are looking for more information about other fish, try our Saltwater Care Guides and don’t forget to tag us on Facebook when sharing a cool photo of your Foxface Rabbitfish!





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