ORA Bristletail Filefish.

ORA Bristletail Filefish.

ORA Aiptasia-Eating or Bristletail Filefish
Acreichthys tomentosus

Aiptasia or Glass Anemones, opportunistic stinging cnidarians of which there are 34 known species, are the scourge of many a reef tank, often reaching pandemic proportions in a short amount of time. Enter the Aiptasia-Eating Filefish, Acreichthys tomentosus, an unassuming, mottled green and brown fish that takes a particular delight in hunting down and consuming these pest anemones. Other trade names for this utilitarian reef tank addition are the Matted Leatherjacket or Bristletail Filefish.

Males have a distinct cluster of bristles at the base of their tails which makes determining the sex of a fish quite easy. They are reported to be able take on protective coloration to match their habitat, turning a vivid green for example when in a seagrass biotope.

When kept in pairs or singly, they thrive in fish-only and coral reef home aquariums reaching a maximum size of 3.5 to 4 inches. These filefish eagerly eat mysid shrimp and just about any type of fish food in addition to Aiptasia sp. anemones. They have been known to nip at corals so be sure to keep them well-fed once the Aiptasia run out. AT ORA, we have long used this fish for Aiptasia control in our coral greenhouse but only started breeding them a few months ago. They were first raised in captivity by well-known German hobbyist Iris Bönig in 2007.

When first acquired, a new Bristletail Filefish may ignore Aiptasia for a week or two before starting what is usually a very effective eradication program.

Dustin Dorton
Ft. Pierce, Florida

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