The Pearly Soldierfish, Myripristis kuntee, is also known by a good few other common names, such as the Shoulderbar Soldierfish and the Epaulette Soldierfish.
It is available to keep in the home aquarium, although it isn’t the most common fish to see. This may be as it isn’t the most showy or flashy of fish that you can keep. However this is exactly what gives the Pearly Soldierfish its charisma. In the home aquarium it will simply live it’s life, and you will be able to see its natural behaviors unfold.
In this care guide we will give a description of the Pearly Soldierfish, its distribution, behavior and diet, and what tanks it is compatible with and what are suitable tankmates.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Quick Pearly Soldierfish Care Sheet
|Pearly Soldierfish Summary|
|Family||Holocentridae, subfamily Myripristinae|
|Origin||Indian and Pacific Oceans|
|Minimum Tank Size||160 Gallons|
|Size||10.2 inches (26 cm )|
|Reef Compatible?||Yes, with care|
|Carbonate Hardness||8-12 dKH|
The Pearly Soldierfish is a species in the Myripristis genus along with the similar Scarlet Soldierfish, Myripristis pralinia. There are currently 28 species in this genus.
The Epaulette Soldierfish is part of the Holocentridae family along with the squirrelfish. The Holocentridae is split into two subfamiles; the Holocentrinae which contain the squirrelfish, and the Myripristinae which contain the soldierfish, including the Epaulette Soldierfish Myripristis kuntee.
The Pearly Soldierfish has small scales when compared to most of the other species of soldierfish. Their coloration can vary depending on the individual. Base coloration can vary from white or silver to bright red. Scales have a red edging on them. There is a white leading edge found on all the fins apart from the the first spiny dorsal fin.
A distinctive black mark is found over the eye, as well as a distinctive square-edged oblong shaped black mark over the gill cover to the base of the pectoral fin. This black mark has led to the other common name of Shoulderbar Soldierfish.
The Pearly Soldierfish is found over a wide range in the Indo-Pacific region, except for the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. However it is found from the Eastern Indian Ocean to the Western Indian Ocean, to Japan in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Australia in the South Pacific. It also extends into the Central Pacific to areas such as the French Polynesian islands.
They are usually found between 10 to 55 meters on the outer edge of coral reefs and deep lagoons.
Behavior and Diet
The Pearly Soldierfish is nocturnal, hiding under overhangs and in crevices during the day. They are sensitive to strong sunlight, and come out at dusk and night to feed. In aquariums very strong light should be avoided to make them more comfortable, but even turning down the lighting at dawn and dusk will enable their natural behavior to come to the fore. Many LED aquarium lights can be programmed with dawn, noon, dusk, and moonlight modes to mimic the natural lighting rhythm.
Epaulette Soldierfish are quite shy, and during the day especially are much more reclusive. They are active at night, and are quite voracious predators. During the day they are found in groups with other soldierfish, and members of the closely related squirrelfish. However during the night they are solitary hunters.
They feed on large zooplanktonic animals, small crustaceans, small fish, and other invertebrates such as mollusks and echinoderms. They most definitely aren’t fussy eaters, and will eat mostly anything that fits into their mouths! Crabs, shrimp, and even fireworms are all on the menu.
Pearly Soldierfish should be kept in a stable reef environment, with a protein skimmer and good filtration system such as a canister filter to ensure clean water. A carbonate hardness range of 8-12 dKH, a temperature of 75-82°F, and a pH range of 8.0-8.4 should be maintained.
Compatibility and Tank Mates
Pearly Soldierfish require lots of space, and so they need a minimum of a 160 gallon tank. They are found naturally on the edge of coral reefs and at deep lagoons, where they hide in crevices during the day and emerge at night, being nocturnal. They aren’t suitable for fish only tanks, as they need to be able to hide under and in coral during the day. A mixture of coral and sponges is recommended, with plenty of overhangs.
They aren’t an aggressive species, however if they aren’t given enough space they will contest hidden spots in the tank. As a nocturnal species they need to hide from the bright daylight. They may also be more aggressive towards similar species.
They are compatible with all coral and sponges, but they aren’t suitable for housing with invertebrates. As we have said in the previous section, they will eat any invertebrate they find, including fireworms. They shouldn’t be housed with very small fish either, as if they are small enough, then the Pearly Soldierfish will consider it a fair meal.
If you have a large saltwater aquarium of 160 gallons or more, then the Pearly Soldierfish should most definitely be a fish that you look seriously at keeping.
They are brilliant fish, creating a more natural feel to large tanks. Hiding in crevices during the day, they emerge at night to feed.