The Squirrelfish Family – Holocentridae
There are currently four members of the Squirrelfish or Holocentridae Family, one from the Atlantic and three from the Pacific, presented in this website:
The fish of the Squirrelfish or Holocentridae Family are known in Mexico’s fishing areas as candiles. They are only found in tropical waters. The family includes the Soldierfish and the Squirrelfish and includes eighty-two species placed in eight genera. Of these twelve are found in Mexican waters, nine in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.
The Squirrelfish are small to medium sized fish measuring up to 45 cm (18 inches) in length with either elongated oval or elongated compressed bodies. The majority are red and silvery in color with subtle longitudinal bands. They have a strongly serrated head and very large eyes. They have a moderately large terminal oblique mouth extending to at least the front margin of the eyes and a projecting lower jaw. They are equipped with small teeth in bands located on the jaws and the roof of the mouth. Their anal fin has 4 stout spines, the third being the longest, and 7 to 16 rays; their caudal fin is forked with 17 branched rays and a slender base; their dorsal fin has a long base and is strongly notched with 11 or 12 strong spines and 8 to 13 rays; and their pelvic fins have one spine and 7 rays. They have the ability to produce sound. All family members have strong preopercle spines that are venomous and can inflict serious pain but are not serious long-term. Their body is covered with large rough scales and their lateral line is complete and normally red in color.
The Squirrelfish are generally demersal and found from the shoreline to depths up to 330 feet. They take shelter in caves and under ledges during daylight hours to avoid predation. They emerge at night for feeding with Soldierfish feeding on large zooplankton including crabs and shrimp larvae and Squirrelfish preying on benthic crabs and shrimp. Reproduction is via release of pelagic eggs that are fertilized externally. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
The Squirrelfish are small in stature but are considered a quality food fish with a high fat content. Some of the larger family members are sold commercially in local fish markets but are not abundant. Several Squirrelfish are used by the aquarium trade.