In the case of many species of filefish – Monacanthidae, as they are known throughout the scientific community – the resemblance to triggerfish is quite easy to see. Their beautiful, rhomboid bodies and intricate, elegant color patterns are their most distinctive features, alongside the soft, straightforward fins that allow for accurate, albeit slower movements. From their razor-sharp incisor teeth to their diverse feeding patterns and tendency to spawn at carefully prepared bottom sites, there are plenty of unique and fascinating characteristics that are commonly associated with these species of reef fish.
Introducing the Monacanthidae Family
When taking a closer look at filefish, Monacanthidae experts can identify most members of the family as small fish that are similar to triggerfish and measure up to 4-12 inches. Not the most capable of swimmers, filefish lack pelvic fins, similarly to triggerfish, but also feature an extension of the pelvic bone – a type of knob that is movable in the case of some species, and comes with a skin flap displayed to intimidate rivals. Members of the Monacanthidae family are quite prevalent, commonly spotted in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, featuring a complex social lifestyle and intricately unique reproduction cycle when compared to similar species of fish.
The Behavior and Life Cycle of Filefish – Monacanthidae Ecosystem
Filefish set up their reproduction sites at the bottom of the shallower waters of the ocean, where males of the species – or perhaps both males and females, depending on the species – guard the site during the spawning process. Ever since they are thrust into the world as pelagic juveniles, filefish already have to fend off a number of predators, including tunas and dolphinfish. Since they aren’t able to swim too fast due to their smaller fins, they are often seen drifting head downwards among seaweed, aiming to fool both their predators and their prey.
Where Do Filefish Live?
Generally, you won’t find filefish in waters that are deeper than 30 meters or so. They commonly inhabit the peaceful lagoons and sea grass beds associated with oceanside coral reef formations. Also, a few species have been seen entering estuaries. Filefish love the areas of the central Pacific and Indian Oceans that are rich in sea grass and where they can easily use their colored patterns as camouflage to fool unsuspecting prey. For most species of filefish, Monacanthidae experts would point out that they aren’t extremely active, and can be classified as somewhat defensive, quickly retreating among seaweed or into small crevices in order to avoid their natural predators.