Maze Rabbitfish, Siganus vermiculatus (Valenciennes 1835)

Other Names: Maze Rabbit-fish, Scribbled Spinefoot, Vermiculate Rabbitfish, Vermiculate Spinefoot, Vermiculated Spinefoot

A Maze Rabbitfish, Siganus vermiculatus, at Navini Island, Fiji. Source: Steve L. Martin / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution

A rabbitfish with a complex maze-like grey and whitish pattern on the body, yellow on the head and a spotted caudal fin. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Siganus vermiculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Maze Rabbitfish, Siganus vermiculatus (Valenciennes 1835)

More Info


Recorded from Darnley Island and possibly Townsville, Queensland, however the presence of this species in Australia is uncertain. The Maze Rabbitfish occurs in the tropical, east-Indo-west Pacific.

Inhabits shallow coastal marine and estuarine waters, with a preference for estuaries. Juveniles and adults mostly occur in shallow, murky waters among mangroves, moving in and out with the tides. Adults are sometimes seen in clear waters near reefs or over sandy areas. 


Dorsal fin XIII, 10; Anal fin VII, 9; Pectoral fin 16-17; Vertebrae: 13.
Preopercular angle 91°-102°; strong overlapping scales cover cheeks; midline of thorax scaled, not pelvic ridges. Anterior nostril with low flange, broadened slightly posteriorly. Spines stout, blunt or pungent, and venomous.


Herbivore - mostly grazes on algae and mangrove roots. 


Marketed fresh for 'premium market prices' in Fiji, Sri Lanka and India, as it is a large fast-growing species.

Species Citation

Amphacanthus vermiculatus Valenciennes, 1835, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 10: 126. Type locality: New Guinea. 


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Maze Rabbitfish, Siganus vermiculatus (Valenciennes 1835)


Allen, G.R. 1991. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Gunderman, N., Popper D.M. & Lichatowich T. 1983. Biology and life cycle of Siganus vermiculatus (Siganidae, Pisces). Pacific Science 37: 165-180.

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. 

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

Larson, H. 2012. Siganus vermiculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. . Downloaded on 09 February 2015.

Popper, D.M., May, R.C. & Lichatowich, T. 1976. An experiment in rearing larval Siganus vermiculatus (Valenciennes) and some observations on its spawning cycle. Aquaculture 7: 281-290.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1835. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 10 482 pp. pls 280-306.

Woodland, D.J. 1990. Revision of the fish family Siganidae with descriptions of two new species and comments on distribution and biology. Indo-Pacific Fishes 19: 1-136 figs 1-23, 11 pls

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37438006

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated, estuaries/mangroves

Max Size:37 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map