Spinefoots


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Spinefoots or rabbit fishes are members of the Siganidae family. They are found in the Indo-Pacific and eastern Mediterranean oceans, living in shallow coastal waters to a depth of 50 meters. They can be recognized based on pelvic fins with 2 spines (one strong inner and one outer spine, with 3 soft rays in between).

Spinefoots are diurnal herbivores that feed on benthic algae. They can be found living in pairs or in school of up to 15 fishes. They have very sharp and venomous spine on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. The spines can cause a very sharp pain, bleed and numbness but they are not fatal. Handling of the fish with hand is done by holding the gill covers.

Rabbit fish is used for praying during the Chinese New Year in the month of January or February. They are said to taste best during the Chinese New Year which otherwise is bitter in taste and pungent in smell.

There is only a single genus and 32 species worldwide. In Malaysia there are 17 species of spinefoots.


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Scientific Name: Siganus canaliculatus  (Park, 1797)
English Name: White-spotted Spinefoot, Rabbit fish
Mandarin Name: 白肚鱼 (Bái dù yú), 拜年鱼(Bài nián yú), 长鳍篮子鱼 (Zhǎng qí lánzi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Capok, Dingkis, Dengkis, Ketang Surat
Local Hokkien: Peh Tor, Bai Jia Heurr
Local Teochew: Pek Touw, Bai Jia Hu
Remarks: Venomous spines on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. Can cause sharp pain, bleed and numbness.






Scientific Name: Siganus fuscescens (Houttuyn, 1782)
English Name: Mottled Spinefoot, Rabbit fish
Mandarin Name: 白肚鱼 (Bái dù yú), 拜年鱼(Bài nián yú), 褐篮子鱼 (Hè lánzi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Capok, Dingkis, Dengkis Turus
Local Hokkien: Peh Tor, Bai Jia Heurr
Local Teochew: Pek Touw, Bai Jia Hu
Remarks: Venomous spines on the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. Can cause sharp pain, bleed and numbness.






Scientific Name: Siganus guttatus  (Bloch, 1787)
English Name: Goldlined Spinefoot
Local Malay Name: Ikan Dengkis, Dengkis Tompok Oren






Scientific Name: Siganus javus  (Linnaeus, 1766)
English Name: Streaked Spinefoot, Java Rabbit Fish
Mandarin Name:泥孟 (Ní mèng), 臭肚 (Chòu dù),爪哇篮子鱼 (Zhǎo wā lán zi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Capok,, Dengkis Jawa








Scientific Name: Siganus virgatus  (Valenciennes, 1835)
English Name: Barhead spinefoot, Two Barred Rabbitfish
Local Malay Name: Ikan Dengkis, Dengkis Kepala Jalur