May 1, 2015
Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium has put a shoal of more than 20 tropical squirrelfish on display after spending a month in quarantine.
Mainly nocturnal, smallmouth squirrelfish are found living close to tropical reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific.
They often live in or near caves or rocky outcrops and have unusually large eyes which help them to hunt at night.
Squirrelfish are among the noisiest of fish species and are capable of producing a range of sounds underwater by vibrating their swim bladders.
These noises are clearly audible in the water and range from sharp cracks and pops to low rumbles. It’s thought the species got its common name from the supposed similarity of some of its sounds to those of a squirrel.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Steve Matchett said: “We’re delighted to finally be able to get the squirrelfish on public display.
“They’re really interesting looking fish with their extremely large eyes and they are also capable of making some very unusual noises which visitors may be able to hear as they go past their display.
“Like almost every member of the squirrelfish family they have venomous spines which they use as a last resort to ward off would-be predators.
“Although they are not fatal to humans they can cause a painful sting; particularly if the spines break off in the skin and therefore we have to be very careful transporting them.
“They’re sharing their new display with a pair of snowflake moray eels who are also nocturnal hunters and like to hide among the rocks and crevices with only their heads sticking out,” he added.
Despite being a relatively widespread and common species very little is known about the lifecycle of the smallmouth squirrelfish. The species lays eggs which then hatch out and travel with the currents until the young fish are around five centimetres long.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/picture opportunities please call Lucy Hackett or Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.