Squirrelfish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

Squirrelfish are an intriguing species that can be a stunning addition to any aquarium. These colorful and interesting fish are a popular choice among aquarists for their hardiness and adaptability to various environments. As a care guide, we will discuss how to properly provide for and maintain your squirrelfish for a healthy and thriving aquatic life.

Squirrelfish care involves providing a suitable aquarium environment, proper diet, and regular maintenance. These saltwater fish require a tank with plenty of hiding places and open swimming space. They need a varied diet of meaty foods, including shrimp, squid, and krill. Squirrelfish are known for their nocturnal behavior and may become aggressive towards other fish during feeding time.

In my personal experience, squirrelfish have been a joy to care for because of their unique appearance and fascinating behavior. Their large eyes and vibrant coloration make them a standout in any aquarium setup. With the right knowledge and dedication, squirrelfish can be an excellent addition to your underwater sanctuary, and have been for me.


Key Takeaways

  • Squirrelfish care involves proper tank setup, water quality, and maintenance.
  • A balanced diet and knowledge of compatible species are crucial for success.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of healthy fish and potential diseases for best results.

Species Summary

The Squirrelfish is a fascinating species, native to the tropical coral reefs of the western Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. These striking fish are known for their vibrant red, orange, and silver colors, giving them an attention-grabbing appearance. I recall gazing in awe the first time I witnessed their grandeur in an aquarium display!

Typically, Squirrelfish grow to a size of about 4 to 12 inches, with some species even reaching up to 18 inches. Their growth rate depends on the species and environmental factors. In general, they are considered moderately fast growing.

These fish have a fairly lengthy lifespan of up to 10 years, which is impressive for aquarium species. The males and females are similar in appearance, making it difficult to differentiate between them.

Despite their flashy looks, Squirrelfish maintain a somewhat shy demeanor. They are mostly nocturnal, retreating to caves and crevices during the day. At night, however, they become active, searching for food. In terms of temperament, Squirrelfish are generally peaceful, though they might show slight aggression toward smaller or similarly shaped fish.

It’s essential to note that Squirrelfish have a unique, needle-like spine on their gill covers. I remember my hand brushing against one at a public aquarium, feeling the sharp edge without harm. While not harmful to humans, this feature should be kept in mind when handling or maintaining their habitat.

Based on my experience and knowledge, the Squirrelfish species is undoubtedly fascinating, beautiful, and relatively easy to care for. A good understanding of their needs ensures that these captivating fish bring life and color to any aquarium for years to come.

Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for Squirrelfish, it’s essential to create a comfortable environment. Tank Size plays a crucial role. I recall how my first Squirrelfish needed at least a 70-gallon tank, allowing them enough space to swim and hide.

Regarding Lighting, Squirrelfish are nocturnal, so they prefer dimmed or low light conditions. It’s best to use LED lights with a timer to simulate a natural day-night cycle.

Filtration & Aeration are vital for maintaining water quality. A powerful filter and air pump ensure proper circulation and oxygenation, keeping your fish healthy.

A Heater is necessary for Squirrelfish since they thrive in tropical waters. Maintain a temperature between 72-78°F to provide optimal living conditions.

Choosing the right Substrate is essential as well. A mix of sand and crushed coral creates a natural environment, reminiscent of their native coral reefs.

Decoration is essential for providing hiding spots. Incorporate rocks, caves, and any other structures that offer shelter, all which are appreciated by the Squirrelfish.

Don’t forget to add some Plants to the tank, both for aesthetics and shelter. While Squirrelfish aren’t known to be plant destroyers, opt for artificial or hardy plants like Java Fern to withstand their potential curiosity.

Water Quality

When it comes to Squirrelfish care, maintaining high water quality is crucial. Let’s discuss a few essential factors for ensuring a healthy environment for the fish in your tank.

Water Temperature: Squirrelfish thrive in water temperatures between 72-78°F (22-25°C). I remember when adjusting my tank’s heater settings, I kept a close eye on the thermometer to ensure a stable and suitable temperature.

Water pH: It is vital to maintain a proper pH level in the tank, which for Squirrelfish is around 8.0 to 8.3. I used to test my tank’s pH weekly and adjusted it as necessary, ensuring the water chemistry stayed balanced for my fish’s wellbeing.

Water Hardness: Keeping track of water hardness is essential as well. Squirrelfish prefer a hardness ranging between 8-12 dKH. Monitoring the hardness levels helps to avoid any unwanted health issues in your fish.

Water Changes: Regular water changes are crucial for maintaining good water quality. I typically performed 10-20% water changes weekly for my Squirrelfish tank. This practice helped me remove built-up waste and restore essential minerals.

By understanding and maintaining these water quality parameters, you’ll create a thriving environment for your Squirrelfish to live happily and healthily.

Tank Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining a healthy environment for your Squirrelfish, it’s essential to focus on tank cleanliness and water conditions. Regular water changes and monitoring water parameters ensure a thriving aquatic environment.

One time, I noticed my Squirrelfish showing signs of stress due to an unclean tank. That close call taught me the importance of regular maintenance.

Tank Mates: Keep an eye on the other inhabitants in your tank. Squirrelfish prefer to share their space with non-aggressive, reef-safe species. They may become agitated and stressed if they even detect aggressive fish.

Make sure to perform water changes weekly or biweekly. Changing about 25% of the water not only removes old, dirty water but also replenishes vital nutrients needed for your Squirrelfish to thrive.

Check the temperature, pH, and salinity levels regularly. Squirrelfish appreciate a stable environment: a temperature of 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 25°C), a pH range of 8.1 to 8.4, and specific gravities between 1.020 and 1.025.

While maintaining your tank, don’t forget to give special attention to the filter. A high-quality filter keeps the water clear and removes harmful substances that might stress or sicken your Squirrelfish.

Selecting the best tank mates and keeping water conditions pristine can make all the difference in providing a happy, healthy home for your Squirrelfish.

Compatible & Incompatible Fish Species

When setting up a community aquarium, it is essential to choose compatible fish species. I had a similar experience when I began my journey with Squirrelfish. These fish have specific tank mates that work best with them.

Compatible Fish Species

Squirrelfish can live peacefully with:

  • Angelfish
  • Butterflyfish
  • Damselfish
  • Gobies

Each of these fish have non-aggressive temperaments and can coexist gracefully.

Incompatible Fish Species

On the other hand, avoid these species:

  • Groupers
  • Lionfish
  • Moray eels
  • Triggerfish

These species could pose a threat to Squirrelfish due to their size or aggressive behavior.

In my experience, proper fish compatibility is essential to maintain a healthy and thriving tank environment. So, carefully plan your community aquarium, keeping in mind the compatible and incompatible species for Squirrelfish.


Squirrelfish are carnivorous, and it’s essential to provide them a varied diet. Personally, I’ve found that a mix of high-quality frozen and live foods works best. You can include brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and krill for a balanced diet.

Feed your squirrelfish 2-3 times a day, with a modest amount at each feeding. This frequency helps mimic their natural feeding habits in the wild. However, avoid overfeeding, as it may lead to poor water quality.

Here are some tips to enhance your squirrelfish’s diet:

  • Occasionally incorporate live foods to stimulate their predatory instincts. I’ve noticed that my squirrelfish are more vibrant when offered live foods.
  • When feeding, ensure that the food sinks to the bottom to reach these bottom-dwelling fish.
  • Observe your squirrelfish while feeding to ensure they are consuming the food and adjust the quantity accordingly.

Keep in mind that a healthy diet leads to a more vibrant and active squirrelfish, and they’ll surely thrive in your home aquarium.

Common Diseases

Squirrelfish are relatively hardy fish, but they can still fall victim to a few common diseases. It’s essential to be aware of these and know how to prevent and treat them.

  1. Ich (White Spot Disease) – Ich shows up as tiny white spots on your fish’s body. These spots might appear as grains of salt. Squirrelfish can become susceptible to this parasite when stressed. To treat Ich, I usually raise the water temperature to 82°F and add a commercial ich medication.
  2. Fin Rot – If you notice your squirrelfish’s fins looking ragged or discolored, it might be fin rot. This bacterial infection can be caused by poor water quality or injuries. It’s essential to maintain clean water and good water chemistry. Treatments can include antibacterial medications and water changes.
  3. Skin Flukes – Tiny parasites called flukes can attach to your fish’s skin, causing irritation. A healthy diet and proper water quality can help prevent flukes. If your fish is affected by them, you can treat the aquarium with chemical treatments specifically targeting parasites.
  4. Fungal Infections – Fungi can cause white or gray fluffy patches on your fish’s skin. Treating fungal infections in your squirrelfish requires antifungal medications and keeping good water quality.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Regularly monitoring and maintaining water quality, proper nutrition, and stress reduction can help keep your squirrelfish healthy and happy.

Signs of a Healthy Fish

A healthy Squirrelfish exhibits vibrant colors, actively swims, and has an excellent appetite. Clear and bright eyes are an indicator of good health.

On the other hand, you should know the [Signs Your Fish Is Sick]. A sick fish might have clamped fins or visible wounds on its body. It may also swim erratically or hide excessively.

One time, I observed a Squirrelfish that wasn’t eating well. Eventually, I noticed it had white spots on its body – a sign of illness. Immediate treatment saved my fish.

Maintaining proper water parameters and a clean tank helps prevent sickness. A quality diet with a variety of protein sources is essential.

Keep an eye on your Squirrelfish, and with proper care, they will thrive in your aquarium.


Squirrelfish 2

Squirrelfish are not commonly bred in home aquariums, but it can be done with the right setup and attention to detail. I once witnessed squirrelfish breeding in a large public aquarium and the sight was captivating.

To start, create a suitable breeding environment by mimicking their natural habitat. Ensure your tank has plenty of hiding spaces, like caves and rock formations. It’s essential to maintain stable water conditions with appropriate temperature, pH, and salinity.

To encourage breeding, increase the water temperature slightly and provide a varied diet to ensure they receive the required nutrients. Live foods like brine shrimp can be a great supplement to their meals.

Once a pair has formed and mated, the female will lay her eggs on a solid surface. Squirrelfish eggs are adhesive, which means they’ll stick to surfaces like rocks, algae, or aquarium decorations. After a few days, the eggs will hatch, releasing tiny larvae into the water column.

Caring for the larvae can be challenging, as they are sensitive to water conditions and require small, live food to survive. Be prepared to perform daily water changes and have a steady supply of live food like rotifers or newly hatched brine shrimp.

As your larvae grow, gradually transition them to a more robust diet, including finely crushed flake food or small frozen foods. Remember to remain patient during the entire breeding process, as it can be lengthy and requires a steady, nurturing hand.

Product recommendations for Squirrelfish:

  1. Hikari Marine S Pellets: This fish food is specially formulated for marine fish, including Squirrelfish, and provides a balanced diet for optimal health.
  2. Seachem Stability: This product helps to establish a healthy biological filter in your aquarium, which is important for maintaining good water quality for Squirrelfish.
  3. Fluval Sea Protein Skimmer: This protein skimmer helps to remove organic waste from your aquarium water, which can be harmful to Squirrelfish.
  4. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This circulation pump helps to create a natural water flow in your aquarium, which is important for the well-being of Squirrelfish.
  5. Instant Ocean Sea Salt: This sea salt mix is perfect for creating a healthy marine environment for Squirrelfish and other saltwater fish.
  6. API Aquarium Salt: This product helps to promote healthy gill function and reduce stress in fish, including Squirrelfish.
  7. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in aquarium water, which can be harmful to Squirrelfish.
  8. Coralife BioCube 16 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit: This aquarium kit is perfect for keeping Squirrelfish in a medium-sized space, and comes with a powerful filtration system.
  9. Marina Floating Thermometer: This thermometer helps you to monitor the temperature of your aquarium water, which is important for keeping Squirrelfish healthy.


Squirrelfish care might seem intimidating at first, but with the right knowledge and attention, it can be a rewarding experience. These fascinating fish bring a unique aesthetic to any aquarium, and maintaining their optimum living conditions is essential for their well-being.

I remember when I first introduced a Squirrelfish to my tank. I was amazed by its vibrant red coloration and mesmerized by its nocturnal swimming habits. Proper tank maintenance, compatibility with tank mates, and a balanced diet are crucial components of caring for these fish.

In conclusion, taking the time to understand Squirrelfish needs and behavior will significantly enhance your ability to care for them. With patience and dedication, you can create a healthy and thriving environment that will showcase these captivating creatures in all their glory, making your aquarium a mesmerizing centerpiece for everyone to admire.


What do Squirrelfish eat?

Squirrelfish are primarily carnivorous and eat a variety of foods like shrimp, small fish, and plankton. In my experience, providing a balanced diet of frozen and live foods helps them thrive.

How big do Squirrelfish grow?

Squirrelfish can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length; however, most species will reach around 6 inches (15 cm) in captivity.

What water conditions do Squirrelfish need?

They require stable water conditions with a temperature between 72°F and 78°F (22°C-26°C), a pH of 8.1-8.4, and a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025.

Are Squirrelfish reef-safe?

Yes, they are considered a reef-safe species; however, they can show aggression to smaller fish or invertebrates that may be perceived as food.

What are some compatible tank mates for Squirrelfish?

Some suitable tank mates include tangs, angelfish, and larger peaceful fish. I once had a Dwarf Squirrelfish sharing a tank with a Yellow Tang and a Flame Angelfish, and they coexisted quite comfortably.

How to acclimate a new Squirrelfish?

I recommend using the drip acclimation method over an hour-long period, as it allows the fish to slowly adjust to the new water parameters and reduces stress.

Remember, every individual fish might behave differently, and it’s crucial to keep an eye on their behavior and adapt to their needs.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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