The crowned squirrelfish Sargocentron diadema is a member of the sub family Holocentridae. Members of the sub family are known as squirrelfish and they are typically red and silver or white. On the gill cover they have spines which are venomous and can inflict a painful wound. They are closely related to the soldierfishes.
The crowned squirrelfish is a bright red color with white stripes running across it to the tail. The gill cover has a vertical stripe on it and there is a white line running above the lip. The area ahead of the caudal peduncle is often a whitish color. They have a proportionally large eye and are nocturnal feeders. They grow up to 17 cm in length.
IN THE WILD
During the day they are found hiding in caves and under overhangs. They are shy of divers, always retreating if one gets too close. Once in a safe spot they will watch a diver carefully.
The crowned squirrelfish is found across the Indian ocean and in the Pacific as far across as Tahiti. During the day they are seen in shoals under overhangs and caves to a depth of 30 meters. The size of the shoal often depends on the size of the hiding place. They use lunging and noises made in the swim bladder to chase other fish out of their hiding spots. At night they leave their hiding spot and hunt for prey along the bottom.
The crowned squirrelfish are nocturnal feeders , feeding on small fishes and benthic invertebrates.
Spawning takes place into the water table and once the eggs hatch the young go into hiding. In Tanzanian waters in the southern hemisphere large groups of several hundred adult crowned squirrelfish have been observed swimming in the open during the day, on several occasions. Milling around two or three meters above the surface of the reef and not as reclusive they usually are. It is possible that this is related to mating.
They are not exploited commercially and are only eaten by subsistence fishermen.
These fish grow quite large and require a large aquarium of several hundred gallons. They prefer being kept in numbers and are happier when they have company. There should be plenty of overhangs and hiding spots to hide in during the day. They will eat smaller fish if the opportunity arises. They are easy to wean off live food and require a moonlight phase in the tank lighting as they will not feed in total darkness.
CROWNED SQUIRRELFISH CLASSIFICATION
Species: S. diadema
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser