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Fish Spotlight: Aiptasia Eating Matted Filefish

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Last updated on November 17th, 2023


Wall to Wall Reef Tanks

Matted Filefish

While not the most colorful fish, the aiptasia eating matted filefish has quite the character! Between the brown-grey color, and spiky skin, this utilitarian fish is frequently found in many reef tanks. The matted filefish is known to eat aiptasia, and are known to be very easy to care for. Please note, this filefish is considered Reef Safe WITH CAUTION.

The matted filefish is a relative of the triggerfish, having a locking "trigger" on top of their head. Unlike the triggerfish, the filefish is not aggressive toward other fish. In fact, the matted filefish is rather shy. This fish can get as large as 3.5 inches, however, it is rarely seen over 1.5-2 inches.

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Why the Matted Filefish?

While not the most colorful, the matted filefish is one of the best aiptasia eating fish. It is much easier to care for than the Copperband Butterfly Fish, and eats other foods, unlike the berghia nudibranch. Making this fish an ideal choice for aiptasia control.

Matted Filefish also have very "quirky" personalities. They tend to be very shy and simply float around. On occasion, you will see them swim sideways in front of wave makers to catch the current like a kite in the wind. This fish is very fun to watch in the reef!

Why Not the Matted Filefish?

As a counter-point, the Matted Filefish is considered Reef-Safe with Caution. From personal experience, I can say that this "caution" is not to be ignored. I have had multiple matted filefish over the years, and they have all eaten aiptasia. Unfortunately, they also often ate coral.

I have had a filefish eat all of the lashes off of Duncan Coral, making it look like it was dying. I have also had one of these filefish eat the streamer polyps from a Applejack Acropora. If these weren't bad enough, another one managed to eat 20 colonies worth of zoanthids in 3 days while I was at the hospital for the birth of my child.

Anything that the matted filefish thinks may be an aiptasia, will be gone along with the pests. Though not everyone has this experience, I want to warn you ahead of time that I have.

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Matted Filefish are an amazing, helpful reef inhabitant. They will help clean up aiptasia for you as well as give you a great deal of entertainment. However, make sure to keep an eye on them to make sure they are not also picking at coral!

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About the Author

Reef Stable Founder John Krenzer

John is a Software Engineer with a passion for saltwater aquariums, as well as the founder and president of Reef Stable. He started in the aquarium hobby as a child with a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. His interest in aquarium life grew and in 2008, John set up his first saltwater aquarium.

Today, John maintains an over 300 gallon reef tank system, consisting of a 120g reef and a 210g reef. These large tanks are contained within the same system, sharing a sump as a means to reduce total maintenance and increase total water volume.

John writes articles for the blog as a means to learn about more reef aquarium topics. These articles act as a reference for the readers as well as himself. John updates these articles frequently to provide additional information or make corrections as new information becomes available.

If you would like to request an article, tank tour article, or to collaborate, let me know via the Contact Me Page!

About Reef Stable

Reef Stable was initially founded in 2019 as a reef tank parameter log to fill a need. Reef Stable quickly grew, becoming a location to solve all of your reef tank problems as well as a place to learn.

Reef Stable now provides a Reef Blog, Reef Aquarium Guides, Coral Care Guides, Identification and Solutions for Pests and Algae, and Reef Dosing Calculators, in addition to the original Reef Parameter Log.

Reef Stable continues to grow, striving to provide a single location for all your reef tank needs!

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