The squirrelfish, Holocentrus adscensionis, are commonly found along the southeastern coast of the United States to northern South America and Brazil. They also inhabit shallow coral reefs in the Caribbean. I spotted a squirrelfish at Looe Key hiding under Acropora palmata. Squirrelfish are most commonly spotted at depths of 30-70m, and are rarely seen in shallow waters. Squirrelfish commonly stay in deeper water where it’s darker because they are nocturnal fish. They remain in holes or caves in the reef structure during the day.
Squirrelfish are not listed by IUCN because there are not any serious threats to their population. Humans rarely eat squirrelfish because its body size has such little value. The biggest anthropogenic threat on squirrelfish is the aquarium industry, because these fish has bright colored bodies.
This species is capable of producing sounds with its swim bladder for intra-specific communication. It emits a grunting sound to fend off threatening fish, and short burst of a distinctive sound to signal an alarm to other squirrelfish. They also are known to have sharp spines that can secrete a poison. In conclusion the beautiful brightly colored squirrelfish is one of my favorite reef fish and I’m so glad I got to see it on my last snorkeling trip of the week.