There are some types of fish with unusual names. You’ve probably heard of the catfish and the dogfish, but did you know there are also rabbitfish out there?
There are 29 different species of rabbitfish (the ones pictured are fox face rabbitfish) and they live in the warm parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans – or at least they used to! When the Suez Canal was built in the 1800s, to save ships from having to go all the way around Africa, rabbitfish made use of it and found their way into the Mediterranean Sea. A case of mankind changing the world for his own benefit and this having unforeseen consequences – something we do quite a lot!
Most rabbitfish are green or brown but there are some more vividly coloured ones. These have become popular in aquariums and can live for up to 12 years in captivity, though their lifespan in the wild is unknown. They form lifelong partnerships and remain faithful to one another until death separates their bond – ‘till death us do part’ seems to be an honoured vow amongst rabbitfish!
They are quite large, measuring between 25cm and half a metre in length. This might make them attractive to large predators you might think, but the rabbitfish have a way of deterring unwanted attention. They are equipped with spines on their fins, each containing poison-producing glands. If you ever do handle one, be sure to wear protective gloves – their poison is not powerful enough to kill a human, but it will cause pain!
So, how did the rabbitfish get its name? Does it leap about or dig holes to live in? No, neither of these! They have a long snout, large eyes and small mouths which give them a partial resemblance to their land-based namesakes.
There are many, many different kinds of fish out there – quite a few you’ve probably never heard of. So, keep coming back to the vertebrates section of Nature Matters and you’ll get to know some more – you never know what you’ll learn!