Common name: Mi Mi, Rabbit Fish, Rabbitfishes, Spinefoot


Inshore tropical and subtropical marine fishes inhabiting reefs, lagoons, mangrove and seagrass areas. Species feed on algae and micro-organisms scraped from corals and rocks. Siganids play an important role in helping prevent reefs from being smothered by algae.
The fin spines of all species have well-developed venom glands that can inflict painful injuries.Species found on coral reefs are usually brightly coloured, often with ornate patterns.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Rabbitfishes, SIGANIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Family Distribution

Distributed across the Indo-Pacific, Red Sea and the Mediterranean. 

Family Reproduction

There is a within-family dichotomy between speciesthat form loosely associative schools as adults and those that form stable, territorial pairs [9]. For the14 species that pair as adults, the evolutionary advantage of pairing has yet to be established. It hasbeen assumed that pairs consist of a male and female that mate together over multiple reproductiveseasons, but with species exhibiting no obvious external sexual dimorphism and with next to nothingknown about their reproductive behaviour (


Dianne J. Bray


Kuiter, R.H. & Debelius, H. 2001. Surgeonfishes, Rabbitfishes and Their Relatives. A comprehensive guide to Acanthuroidei. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.

Kuriiwa, K., Hanzawa, N., Yoshino, T., Kimura, S. & Nishida, M. (2007) Phylogenetic relationships and natural hybridization in rabbitfishes (Teleostei: Siganidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 45(1): 69–80. Abstract doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.04.018
Taylor, G. (2000) Toxic fish spine injury: Lessons from 11 years experience. J. South Pac. Underwater Med. Soc. 30(1): 7-8. PDF
Woodland, D. 1990. Revision of the fish family Siganidae with descriptions of two new species and comments on distribution and biology. Indo-Pacific Fishes 19: 136 pp

Woodland, D.J. 2001. Siganidae. pp. 3627-3650 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218. PDF