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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Holocentridae
Squirrelfishes and Soldierfishes
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Beryciformes

Key Features:
Large eyes, often red in coloration. Single dorsal fin with an anterior section with 10-13 spines and a soft anterior section with fin rays. Caudal fin is forked and scales are ctenoid. Nocturnal, they are most often found by scuba divers under rocky ledges and crevices.

Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Myripristis leiognathus
Sargocentron suborbitalis

Panamic soldierfish
Tinsel Squirrelfish

Panamic Soldierfish seen scuba diving in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Myripristis leiognathus
Panamic Soldierfish
San Carlos , Sonora, Mexico

Family Holocentridae
Squirrelfishes and Soldierfishes (Peces ardilla)

Like many other nocturnal fishes, the squirrelfishes are usually reddish with large eyes, allowing excellent night vision and coloration that provides excellent blending with the background light of the nighttime sea.  There are only two common species of holocentrids within the Sea of Cortez, the Panamic soldierfish, Myripristis leiognathus and the tinsel squirrelfish, Sargocentron suborbitalis

Both species range from the central midriff islands south to Panama, and are often seen with close association with one another.  During daylight hours both may be seen in large groupings under rocky caves and crevices.  Both will emerge at night to feed on small crustaceans.  The squirrelfish may be differentiated from soldierfish by a more strongly pointed snout that is lacking on the rounded forehead of the soldierfish.  In addition, the squirrelfishes are more likely to form loose aggregations as they feed at night, while the tinsel squirrelfish is typically a solitary hunter. 


Updated August 28, 2009

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