Rabbitfish
Overview
 
Rabbitfishes or spinefoots are perciform fishes in the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Siganidae. The 28 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 are in a single genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

, Siganus. In some now obsolete classifications, the species having prominent face stripes—colloquially called foxfaces–are in the genus Lo. Other species like the Masked Spinefoot (S. puellus
Siganus puellus
The Masked Spinefoot, also known as Decorated Rabbitfish or masked rabbitfish, occurs in shallow, coral-rich areas of clear lagoons and seaward reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region at depths of 10 to 100 feet....

) show a reduced form of the stripe pattern.
Encyclopedia
Rabbitfishes or spinefoots are perciform fishes in the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Siganidae. The 28 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 are in a single genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

, Siganus. In some now obsolete classifications, the species having prominent face stripes—colloquially called foxfaces–are in the genus Lo. Other species like the Masked Spinefoot (S. puellus
Siganus puellus
The Masked Spinefoot, also known as Decorated Rabbitfish or masked rabbitfish, occurs in shallow, coral-rich areas of clear lagoons and seaward reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region at depths of 10 to 100 feet....

) show a reduced form of the stripe pattern. Rabbitfishes are found in shallow lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

s in the Indo-Pacific
Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia...

 and eastern Mediterranean.

Description and ecology

Rabbitfishes grow to about 40 cm (15.7 in) and have small, rabbit
Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

-like mouths, large dark eyes, and a shy temperament which gives them their name; the scientific name Siganus is simply the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 term by which Mediterranean rabbitfishes were known in Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. Most species have either bright colors or a complex and interesting pattern.

Another unusual feature among rabbitfishes is their pelvic fins, which are formed from two spines, with 3 soft rays between them. The dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 bears 13 spines with 10 rays behind, while the anal fin has 7 spines and 9 rays behind; the fin spines are equipped with well-developed venom glands. All rabbitfish are diurnal
Diurnal animal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...

, some live in school, while others live more solitary lives among the coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

s. They are herbivorous, feeding on benthic algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 in the wild. They are pelagic spawners. Many are fished for food, and the more colorful species—especially the foxfish – are often kept in aquaria
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

.

In aquaria, they eat a variety of fresh vegetables and algae. Care must be taken during aquarium maintenance and cleaning, as rabbitfishes are often easily frightened and will use their venomous spines in defense. Their venom is not life-threatening to adult humans, but causes severe pain.

Taxonomy

In 2007 Kurriwa et al., outlined a way to split the genus—if the scientific community desires so:
  • An ancient group containing e.g. S. woodlandi
  • Another fairly small group containing, e.g., the White-spotted-Mottled Spinefoot (S. canaliculatus/S. fuscescens) complex.
  • The remained of Siganus, including the foxfaces.


But other lineages might exist and obsolete the somewhat weak distinction between the second and third groups. Also, it is not known where the type species
Type species
In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

 S. rivulatus would fall, hence names for these three subgenera or genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 are not established at present.

Hybridizaton has played a role in the evolution of Siganidae, as evidenced by comparison of mtDNA cytochrome b
Cytochrome b
Cytochrome b/b6 is the main subunit of transmembrane cytochrome bc1 and b6f complexes. In addition, it commonly refers to a region of mtDNA used for population genetics and phylogenetics.- Function :...

 and nDNA Internal transcribed spacer
Internal transcribed spacer
ITS refers to a piece of non-functional RNA situated between structural ribosomal RNAs on a common precursor transcript. Read from 5' to 3', this polycistronic rRNA precursor transcript contains the 5' external transcribed sequence , 18S rRNA, ITS1, 5.8S rRNA, ITS2, 28S rRNA and finally the 3'ETS...

 1 sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

 data. There is evidence of interbreeding between the Orange-spotted (S. guttatus
Siganus guttatus
Siganus guttatus is a Rabbitfish from the Eastern Indian Ocean. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 42 cm in length....

) and the Golden-lined Spinefoot (S. lineatus), as well as between the Barred (S. doliatus
Siganus doliatus
The Barred Spinefoot , also known by a number of other names such as Pencil-Streaked Rabbitfish, Barred Spanish Mackerel, Blue-Lined Rabbitfish, Scribbled Rabbitfish or Two Barred Rabbitfish, is a species of rabbitfish.- References :*...

) and the Barhead Spinefoot (S. virgatus).

Also, either females of the last common ancestor of the Masked (S. puellus
Siganus puellus
The Masked Spinefoot, also known as Decorated Rabbitfish or masked rabbitfish, occurs in shallow, coral-rich areas of clear lagoons and seaward reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region at depths of 10 to 100 feet....

) and the Gold-spotted Spinefoot (S. punctatus) interbred with females ancestral to the main non-foxface lineage, or males of the former hybridized with females of the last common ancestor of the Peppered Spinefoot (S. punctatissimus) and the foxfaces, while males of the latter mated with females of the original foxface species.

An individual was found that looked like a slightly aberrant Blue-spotted Spinefoot (S. corallinus
Siganus corallinus
The Blue-spotted Spinefoot is a species of rabbitfish.- References :*...

). On investigation, it turned out to be an offspring of a hybrid between a female of that species and a male Masked Spinefoot, which had successfully backcrossed with the Blue-spotted Spinefoot.

Species

As noted above, several presumed species are suspected to actively interbreed even today; these might warrant merging as a single species. This applies to the White-spotted (S. canaliculatus) and the Mottled Spinefoot (S. fuscescens), and to the Blotched Foxface (S. unimaculatus
Siganus unimaculatus
Siganus unimaculatus, also called the blotched foxface, is a species of rabbitfish....

) and the Foxface Rabbitfish
Foxface Rabbitfish
The Foxface Rabbitfish is a popular saltwater aquarium fish. It belongs to the rabbitfish family and is sometimes still placed in the obsolete genus Lo. Other common names are "foxface" or "foxface Lo", but these properly refer to any of the rabbitfish species once separated in Lo, e.g...

 (S. vulpinus). Alternatively they might be very recently-evolve
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

d species that have not yet undergone complete lineage sorting, but their biogeography
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

 suggests that each group is just color morphs of a single species. On the other hand, the morphologyically
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 diverse Blue-spotted Spinefoot (S. corallinus
Siganus corallinus
The Blue-spotted Spinefoot is a species of rabbitfish.- References :*...

) might represent more than one species; orange individuals are found at the north of its range, while yellow ones occur to the south, and these two may be completely parapatric. Some species of spinefoot have a very painful sting on each of their barbs, but some are a good eating fish.
  • Siganus argenteus
    Siganus argenteus
    Siganus argenteus or Streamlined Spinefoot is a species of rabbitfish. It grows between 20 and 40 cm, and lives in shallow areas of the Indo-pacific, typically ranging from 2 to 40m...

    – Streamlined Spinefoot (Quoy
    Jean René Constant Quoy
    Jean René Constant Quoy was a French zoologist.Along with Joseph Paul Gaimard he served as naturalist aboard La Coquille under Louis Isidore Duperrey during its circumnavigation of the globe , and the Astrolabe under the command of Jules Dumont d'Urville...

     & Gaimard
    Joseph Paul Gaimard
    Joseph Paul Gaimard was a French naval surgeon and naturalist.Along with Jean René Constant Quoy he served as naturalist on the ships L'Uranie under Louis de Freycinet 1817-1820, and L'Astrolabe under Jules Dumont d'Urville 1826-1829...

    , 1825)
  • Siganus canaliculatus – White-spotted Spinefoot (Park, 1797) (might belong in S. fuscescens)
  • Siganus corallinus
    Siganus corallinus
    The Blue-spotted Spinefoot is a species of rabbitfish.- References :*...

    – Blue-spotted Spinefoot (Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology...

    , 1835)
    (probably several species)
  • Siganus doliatus
    Siganus doliatus
    The Barred Spinefoot , also known by a number of other names such as Pencil-Streaked Rabbitfish, Barred Spanish Mackerel, Blue-Lined Rabbitfish, Scribbled Rabbitfish or Two Barred Rabbitfish, is a species of rabbitfish.- References :*...

    – Barred Spinefoot Guérin-Méneville
    Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville
    Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville was a French entomologist.Guérin-Méneville changed his surname from Guérin in 1836. He was the author of the illustrated work Iconographie du Règne Animal de G. Cuvier 1829–1844, a complement to the work of Georges Cuvier and Pierre André Latreille, which lacked...

    , 1829
  • Siganus fuscescens – Mottled Spinefoot (Houttuyn
    Martinus Houttuyn
    Maarten Houttuyn or Houttuijn , Latinised as Martinus Houttuyn, was a Dutch naturalist.Houttuyn was born in Hoorn, studied medicine in Leiden and moved to Amsterdam in 1753. He published many books on natural history. His areas of interest encompassed Pteridophytes, Bryophytes and Spermatophytes...

    , 1782)
  • Siganus guttatus
    Siganus guttatus
    Siganus guttatus is a Rabbitfish from the Eastern Indian Ocean. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 42 cm in length....

    – Orange-spotted Spinefoot (Bloch
    Marcus Elieser Bloch
    Marcus Elieser Bloch was a German medical doctor and naturalist. He is generally considered one of the most important ichthyologists of the 18th century.- Life :...

    , 1787)
  • Siganus javus
    Siganus javus
    The Streaked Spinefoot is a species of rabbitfish. Like all rabbitfish, it has venomous spines on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. It is a herbivore, feeding mostly on algae in shallow coastal waters, brackish lagoons and rocky or coral reefs. It is found throughout most of the Indo-Pacific...

    – Streaked Spinefoot (Linnaeus
    Carolus Linnaeus
    Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

    , 1766)
  • Siganus labyrinthodes – Labyrinth Spinefoot (Bleeker
    Pieter Bleeker
    Pieter Bleeker was a Dutch medical doctor and ichthyologist, famous for his work on the fishes of East Asia – Atlas Ichthyologique des Orientales Neerlandaises – which was published 1862–1877....

    , 1853)
  • Siganus lineatus – Golden-lined Spinefoot (Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology...

    , 1835)
  • Siganus luridus – Dusky Spinefoot (Rüppell
    Eduard Rüppell
    Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell was a German naturalist and explorer. Rüppell is occasionally transliterated to "Rueppell" for the English alphabet....

    , 1829)
  • Siganus magnificus
    Siganus magnificus
    Siganus magnificus is a Rabbitfish from the Eastern Indian Ocean. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 24 cm in length....

    – Magnificent Rabbitfish (Burgess, 1977)
  • Siganus niger – Black Foxface Woodland, 1990
  • Siganus puelloides – Blackeye Rabbitfish Woodland & Randall, 1979
  • Siganus puellus
    Siganus puellus
    The Masked Spinefoot, also known as Decorated Rabbitfish or masked rabbitfish, occurs in shallow, coral-rich areas of clear lagoons and seaward reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region at depths of 10 to 100 feet....

    – Masked Spinefoot (Schlegel
    Hermann Schlegel
    Hermann Schlegel was a German ornithologist and herpetologist.-Early life and education:Schlegel was born at Altenburg, the son of a brassfounder. His father collected butterflies, which stimulated Schlegel's interest in natural history...

    , 1852)
  • Siganus punctatissimus – Peppered Spinefoot Fowler & Bean, 1929
  • Siganus punctatus – Gold-spotted Spinefoot (Schneider
    Johann Gottlob Schneider
    Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider was a German classicist and naturalist.-Biography:Schneider was born at Collm in Saxony...

     & Forster
    Johann Reinhold Forster
    Johann Reinhold Forster was a German Lutheran pastor and naturalist of partial Scottish descent who made contributions to the early ornithology of Europe and North America...

    , 1801)
  • Siganus randalli – Variegated Spinefoot Woodland, 1990
  • Siganus rivulatus – Marbled Spinefoot Forsskål
    Peter Forsskål
    Peter Forsskål, sometimes spelled Pehr Forsskål, Peter Forskaol, Petrus Forskål or Pehr Forsskåhl, was a Swedish explorer, orientalist, naturalist and an apostle of Carl Linnaeus.-Early life:...

    , 1775
  • Siganus spinus – Little Spinefoot (Linnaeus
    Carolus Linnaeus
    Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

    , 1758)
  • Siganus stellatus – Brownspotted Spinefoot (Forsskål
    Peter Forsskål
    Peter Forsskål, sometimes spelled Pehr Forsskål, Peter Forskaol, Petrus Forskål or Pehr Forsskåhl, was a Swedish explorer, orientalist, naturalist and an apostle of Carl Linnaeus.-Early life:...

    , 1775)
  • Siganus sutor – Shoemaker Spinefoot (Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology...

    , 1835)
    .
  • Siganus trispilos – Three-blotched Rabbitfish Woodland & Allen, 1977
  • Siganus unimaculatus
    Siganus unimaculatus
    Siganus unimaculatus, also called the blotched foxface, is a species of rabbitfish....

    – Blotched Foxface (Evermann & Seale, 1907) (probably belongs in S. vulpinus)
  • Siganus uspi
    Siganus uspi
    Siganus uspi is a Rabbitfish from the Western Pacific. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 24 cm in length.Classified and named by Michael J. Gawel after USP ....

    – Bicolored Foxface Gawel & Woodland, 1974
  • Siganus vermiculatus – Vermiculated Spinefoot (Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology...

    , 1835)
  • Siganus virgatus – Barhead Spinefoot (Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes
    Achille Valenciennes was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology...

    , 1835)
  • Siganus vulpinusFoxface Rabbitfish
    Foxface Rabbitfish
    The Foxface Rabbitfish is a popular saltwater aquarium fish. It belongs to the rabbitfish family and is sometimes still placed in the obsolete genus Lo. Other common names are "foxface" or "foxface Lo", but these properly refer to any of the rabbitfish species once separated in Lo, e.g...

  • Siganus woodlandi Randall & Kulbicki, 2005
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