Foxface, Siganus vulpinus - I.44730-006 Click to enlarge image
A Foxface caught between Palfrey & South Islands, Lizard Island, Queensland, 9 September 2008. UG 556 (QM) Image: Jay Cossey
© Jay Cossey, University of Guelph

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    vulpinus
    Genus
    Siganus
    Family
    Siganidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to 30 cm in length.

Introduction

The Foxface can be recognised by its distinctive shape and colouration. All the dorsal, pelvic and anal spines have grooves and poison glands.

Identification

The Foxface is recognised by its distinctive shape and colouration. It has an elongated snout and concave head profile. Adults have a diagonal black band from the dorsal fin origin, through the eye to the mouth. The breast is covered by a large black triangle. The posterior portion of the body and fins are bright yellow.

The Foxface is classified in the family Siganidae. Fishes in this family are commonly known as rabbitfishes. This is in reference to the distinctive snout shape. Rabbitfishes have several unusual fin characteristics. The pelvic fins have two spines separated by three soft rays. The anal fin has seven spines, more than most other bony fishes.

Habitat

Juveniles form schools and shelter in coral.

Distribution

This species occurs widely throughout the western Pacific. In Australia it is recorded around the tropical north from Ashmore Reef, Western Australia to the Capricorn Group, Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Breeding behaviours

By the time the fish have reached 10 cm in length, they form pairs. These pairs are believed to be maintained for life.

Danger to humans

All the dorsal, pelvic and anal spines have grooves and poison glands. A wound from any of these spines can be very painful. One species of siganid, Siganus nebulosus (Quoy & Gaimard), has the common name "Happy Moments", a sarcastic reference to the pain endured by people who have not handled this fish with care.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific. Indonesia and adjacent Waters. Penerbit PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama. Pp. 314.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437. (for Happy Moments, S.nebulosus)
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.