Holocentridae is a family of ray-finned fish, the only family of the order Holocentriformes.[1] The members of the subfamily Holocentrinae are typically known as squirrelfish, while the members of Myripristinae typically are known as soldierfish.[2] In Hawaii, they are known by the Japanese name mempachi/menpachi (メンパチ) or the Hawaiian ʻūʻū.

Temporal range: Late Cretaceous–Recent
Holocentrus adscensionis - pone.0010676.g033.png
Holocentrus adscensionis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Superorder: Acanthopterygii
Order: Holocentriformes
Betancur-R. et al., 2013
Family: Holocentridae
J. Richardson, 1846
Subfamilies and genera[1]

They are found in tropical parts of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, with the greatest species richness near reefs in the Indo-Pacific. Most are found at depths from the shoreline to 100 m (330 ft), but some, notably the members of the genus Ostichthys, are generally found far deeper. Being largely or entirely nocturnal, they have relatively large eyes. During the day, they typically remain hidden in crevices, caves, or under ledges.[3] Red and silvery colours dominate.[2][4] The preopercle spines (near the gill opening) of the members of the subfamily Holocentrinae are venomous, and can give painful wounds.[5][6] Most have a maximum length of 15–35 cm (6–14 in), but Sargocentron iota barely reaches 8 cm (3 in), and S. spiniferum and Holocentrus adscensionis can reach more than 50 cm (19.5 in). The squirrelfishes mainly feed on small fishes and benthic invertebrates, while the soldierfishes typically feed on zooplankton.[6] The larvae are pelagic, unlike the adults, and can be found far out to sea.[3]


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Holocentridae" in FishBase. October 2012 version.
  2. ^ a b Lieske, Ewald, & Robert Myers. 1999. Coral Reef Fishes - Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean including the Red Sea. 2nd edition. ISBN 0-691-00481-1
  3. ^ a b Paxton, John R. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  4. ^ Debelius, Helmut. 1993. Indian Ocean Tropical Fish Guide. ISBN 3-927991-01-5
  5. ^ Randall, John E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific.. ISBN 0-8248-2698-1
  6. ^ a b Allen, Gerry. 1999. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and south-east Asia. ISBN 0-7309-8363-3

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