Dive Key West For Squirrelfish

Dive Key West at night and you might see the squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis) swimming over a seagrass bed or along a sandy bottom. The fish possesses a slender body with a slightly compressed, oval-like shape. The first thing a diver notices about the squirrelfish is its huge black andldquo;squirrel-likeandrdquo; eyes, which, if you look closely, actually feature red pupils. The second thing a diver notices about the squirrelfish is its elongated dorsal fin which is yellow or yellow green in color and contrasts starkly with the fish’s bright red middle and white belly. Silver stripes and goldish reflections also appear on the squirrelfish, near the fins.

During daylight hours, the squirrelfish will hide in a crevice of coral or deep underneath a secluded ledge to avoid active daytime predators. For this reason, looking for them during the day is a fruitless task. The fish has been measured at up to 24 inches, but will more typically only reach about 10 inches in length. Although humans do not consume squirrelfish frequently, the species is a very popular addition to any saltwater aquarium, courtesy of its bright, eye-catching coloration. The staple of the squirrelfish’s diet is meroplankton such as shrimp larvae and crab larvae. The fish reportedly snacks on small crustaceans and juvenile fish occasionally, too.