Animals

Soapfish: 13 Facts You Won't Believe!

Read further to learn some fun facts about the soapfish!
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The soapfish is a marine, ray-finned fish belonging to the Serranidae family and the tribe Grammistini. The soapfish species constitutes 24 different sub-species found in the Atlantic, Indo Pacific, and eastern Pacific regions of Brazil, Mauritania, Angola, Cape Verde, St Helena, Ascension Islands, Japan, Africa, and Bermuda. They are classified by their spiny dorsal fins, and small, upturned mouths. All members of this family also possess the ability to release a mucus-like secretion when threatened, which is a sign for larger fish and predators to stay away. These are small fish that are found at a depth between 3.2-213.2 ft (1-65 m). They are also characterized by the horizontal lines and patterns on their bodies. With the exception of the arrowhead soapfish, all members of this family are nocturnal, which means they rest during the day and search for prey at night. They prefer tropical, temperate, shallow waters with the rocky seabed.

Out of the different varieties of soapfish, the greater soapfish or the Rypticus Saponaceus is the most popular and is commonly found in the Atlantic, South America, and Africa. The Rypticus Saponaceus is characterized by its three protruding, spiny dorsal fins, due to which it is also known as the three-spined soapfish. Other common members of this family include the six lined soapfish or the Grammistes sexlineatus, which are classified by their six white stripes. The six-lined soapfish are commonly found in the coral reefs of the Pacific oceanic islands and the Indo pacific region such as the Red Sea, Hawaii, Japan, and New Zealand. Other members that are related are the red soapfish dottyback, the black soapfish, and the white-spotted soapfish. Read on to hear about the spotted soapfish poison, Do check out the rockfish and koi as well.

Soapfish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Mollusks, crustaceans, small fish

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

The exact number of eggs is unknown

How much do they weigh?

1-2 lb (0.4-1 kg) (speculated)

How long are they?

9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Dark skin, distinct spots, brown stripes

Skin Type

Scales

What are their main threats?

Humans

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Ocean

Locations

Atlantic ocean, Indo Pacific ocean, tropical regions

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Actinopterygii

Scientific Name

Rypticus

Family

Serranidae

Genus

Rypticus

Soapfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a soapfish?

The soapfish is a marine ray-finned fish belonging to the family Serranidae and genus Rypticus.

What class of animal does a soapfish belong to?

The soapfish is a marine fish belonging to the class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes).

How many soapfishes are there in the world?

The exact population of the soapfish is unknown. However, there are 24 species of soapfish present in the world today.

Where does a soapfish live?

Soapfishes live in the Atlantic ocean, Pacific Oceans, and tropical, temperate regions. They are found in Bermuda, Brazil, Mauritania, Angola, Cape Verde, St Helena, Ascension Islands, and South Africa.

What is a soapfish's habitat?

Soapfish live in shallow waters with a gravelly or rocky seabed with limestone present in the sand. They are also spotted amongst marine reefs, corals, and the base of caves.

Who do soapfishes live with?

Soapfishes are solitary creatures. This means that they live by themselves. They are nocturnal in nature and can be spotted lying still on the rocks by themselves.

How long does a soapfish live?

Soapfish have a long lifespan, with some types (such as the spotted soapfish) living up to 37 years.

How do they reproduce?

Soapfish are oviparous in nature. This means that they produce by means of eggs. Fertilization takes place externally, which means that females release eggs into the water for the males to fertilize. Soapfish produce pelagic eggs, which means that the eggs float in the water column rather than on the seabed.

What is their conservation status?

Soapfish are common and hence, have been classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Soapfish Fun Facts

What do soapfishes look like?

A description of soapfish is an elongated, brown/gray-colored body with a tint of green or blue. They have a round dorsal fin, no anal fins, an upturned mouth, and have distinct spots on their bodies. The color of these spots varies depending upon the type. They also have a brownish stripe that stretches throughout their bodies and a round tail. They can reach a maximum length of 11.8 in (35 cm). Some types of these fish have unique, distinguishable characteristics. The six-lined soapfish has a unique pattern of six horizontal lines on its body. Similarly, the freckled soapfish is characterized by round white spots on its body.

Soapfish are characterized by their upturned mouth, round dorsal fin, spotted pattern, and dull color.

How cute are they?

Soapfish are not considered to be cute, mainly due to their dull colors and toxic venom. They are also solitary fish that keep to themselves and are generally unnoticeable. However, they can be interesting to watch and observe in an aquarium environment.

How do they communicate?

Soapfish communicate by means of physical movements, vibrations, and chemical pheromones. They have the ability to communicate with one another by twitching their tails, heads, and bodies. They also signal predators to stay away by releasing a foul-smelling secretion from their skin.

How big is a soapfish?

Soapfish can grow to a length that is anywhere between the range of 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm). This makes them almost three times bigger than a dusky damselfish by length.

How fast can a soapfish swim?

Soapfish are nocturnal in nature and are very lethargic and motionless during the daytime. However, they are very predatory at night and can attack prey swiftly and with accuracy. The arrowhead soapfish is diurnal in nature and is extremely fast.

How much does a soapfish weigh?

The exact weight of the soapfish is not known. However, it is speculated that they weigh around 1-2 lb (0.4-1 kg) with relation to similar fish of the same length.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female soapfish.

What would you call a baby soapfish?

There are no specific names for baby soapfishes. They are simply referred to as juveniles or fry.

What do they eat?

The diet of a soapfish consists of small fish, crabs, shrimp, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

Although these fish are not dangerous to humans, they do produce a toxic substance that protects them from other fish and predators. When these fish are provoked or scared, they release a toxic mucus known as grammistin. This toxin repels predators, keeping the soapfish safe.

Would they make a good pet?

Soapfish are suited to an aquarium environment. However, they are not as popular as other fish due to their dull colors and lone nature and tendencies. They are also nocturnal in nature, which means that they spend the daytime hiding between rocks and other aquarium decors. They might be secretive initially, but once they get used to the tank environment and the keeper, they become more comfortable and tame. A disadvantage of keeping soapfish in a tank environment is that they are very predatory in nature and will eat smaller fish and prey. The toxic slime they produce may also result in the death of other fish in the tank and needs to be supervised and handled separately.

Did you know...

Soapfishes undergo a phenomenon known as sequential hermaphroditism, which means that females have the ability to change their sex and become male. Unlike other members of this family, Soapfishes have both male and female reproductive organs in their bodies. This allows females to turn into males whenever there is a need for a dominant male for for the purpose of reproduction.

Unlike other members of this family, the arrowhead soapfish is a rare fish and is built to be fast and active. These fish are also diurnal in nature, which means that they spend the daytime out in the open, rarely hiding or resting on their own. They are very predatory in nature and it is advised to keep only one of these fish in an aquarium tank. They are also jumping fishes, which means that they are prone to leaping out of the tank when provoked or startled.

The color of the spots on the soapfish depends upon the species. For example, the Rypticus Bistrispinus or the freckled soapfish has brownish spots, the Rypticus Maculatus or the white-spotted soapfish has pale white spots, the Rypticus subbifrenatus or the spotted soapfish has dark brown spots.

The greater soapfish or the Rypticus Saponaceous is considered to be the most popular species of soapfish.

What are the different types of soapfish?

There are 24 species of soapfish that belong to the family Serranidae of the tribe Grammistini that are found between the Atlantic and indo-pacific oceans. All species of soapfish have a spiny dorsal fin, upturned mouth, and have the ability to secrete a slimy toxin when required. This includes the white-spotted soapfish, the red soapfish, the yellowfin soapfish, the banded soapfish, the greater soapfish, the freckled soapfish, the golden striped soapfish of the Red Sea, the arrowhead soapfish, the two banded soapfish, the black-spotted soapfish, the leaf lip soapfish, snook soapfish, leatherback soapfish, orange soapfish and so on.

Why is it called a soapfish?

Soapfish are known for secreting the toxin Grammistin from their skin when they feel scared or provoked to protect themselves from predators. This toxin is a thick, slimy mucus that causes a lather, like soap. Due to this, this species is referred to as soapfish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Monkfish facts or green Sunfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable soapfish coloring pages.

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