Common name: Saddled Filefish, Mimic Leatherjacket, Mimic Filefish
Scientific name: Paraluteres prionurus
Max size: 4.5 inches / 11 cm
Temperature: 72-78ºF (22-26°C)
The Saddled filefish, or Mimic filefish as it also commonly is called, is a beautiful and interesting fish that unfortunately only rarely is available in the trade and usually only in small quantities. It has earned the names Saddled filefish and Mimic filefish due to the fact that it mimics the toxic species Saddled puffer. By mimicking this puffer it gets predators to avoid it even though the filefish isn't toxic.
The Saddled filefish look very much like the Saddled puffer, Canthigaster valentine. They have a white body white black fields on the upper half, yellow fins and brown spots on the upper lower half of the body. The body is puffer shaped. You can tell a Saddled filefish from a Saddled puffer by looking at their dorsal fins. The Saddled filefish have two dorsal fins, the puffer only one.
The Saddled filefish is a very suitable aquarium fish that would be recommended to beginners if only it was more commonly available in the trade. It is very hardy and much easier to care for than other filefish species. It is a friendly fish and Saddled filefish can be kept with most other docile fish species. This species should not be kept with aggressive fish such as triggers. Puffers should also be avoided since most pufferfish species gets aggressive towards the filefish due the similarity between them and puffers. This species is not suitable for reef aquariums as it has a tendency towards eating sponges, tunicates and gorgonians as well as small invertebrates living in the tank.
The Saddled filefish is native to the Indo-Pacific, from the east coast of Africa to Fiji, northern Japan, Australia and New Caledonia. Not present in the Red Sea. They inhabit clear lagoons and seaward reefs and are found at depths of up to 82 ft / 25 m. They are usually found in pairs but can sometimes be found in larger groups.
Saddled Filefish care and aquarium setup
The Saddled filefish should be kept in an aquarium no smaller than 30 gallon / 120 L. An aquarium of that size is large enough to keep a single fish or a pair. The aquarium should be decorated so that a lot of caves and other hiding places such as overhangs are created. The filefish needs suitable dark hiding places to feel safe. They prefer a well circulated well lit aquarium with darker calmer areas to rest in. If you keep a pair it is good to create a cave or two that are big enough for the pair together. Saddled filefish is very suitable for a "fish only with live rock" aquarium but they can be kept in a "fish only" setup as well. I do not recommend keeping this non reef safe fish in a reef aquarium.
Ideal conditions for Saddled filefish are pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 1.020-1.025, and temperature 72-78ºF (22-26°C).
Feeding Saddled Filefish
The Saddled or Mimic filefish is an omnivore that eats most foods offered to it. Not all specimens accept pellets. Feed your fish a varied diet of meaty foods such as chopped up shrimps, mussels, clams and crab meat as well as frozen food for herbivores. Feed 2-3 times a day.
Breeding Saddled Filefish
Saddled Filefish has as far as we know not been bred in aquariums. In the wild they usually live in pairs. Each pair protects a territory within which they spawn.