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Related FAQs: Fusiliers

Related Articles: Fusiliers, Family Caesionidae by Bob Fenner, Fusiliers of Indonesia, Snappers, Family Lutjanidae

/A Diversity of Aquatic Life

Fusiliers: Family Caesionidae, updated

Robert Fenner

Caesio teres, Fiji

While out and about diving in the warmer, clearer waters of our planet’s reefs, I often come across organisms that seem to be good candidates for captive use. What characteristics would you use for this estimation? They’re colorful, interesting behaviorally, not too big; that they appear numerous and not too difficult to collect…

Such are the members of the family Caesionidae, the Fusiliers. On shallow reefs of the Indo-Pacific you’ll find small shoals of their species swimming into and out of view, especially on rising current, tides, feeding on zooplankton. Their colors are subtle to sublime for the most part, but they do have pleasing fusiform (torpedo-shaped) profiles and are in constant motion in their favor.

Amongst the several families of fishes virtually unknown to aquarists but desirable for their beauty, hardiness and abundance, the Fusiliers are a prime example. Formerly placed as a subfamily within the true Snappers (Lutjanidae) Fusilier species are mostly in the half to one foot length overall in maximum aquarium size. The family’s members are planktivorous and eager eaters of all types of substantial suspended foods.

These are active fishes that need space, as in hundreds of gallons, and well-circulated and aerated water; otherwise, if you can secure initially healthy specimens, yours should do well for years.

Fusiliers on Parade! There are four genera and twenty three described species of Caesionids; only a few of which make it into the ornamental trade, and these only by avant garde wholesalers like Quality Marine and retailers like friend Rob Bray’s House of Fins in Greenwich Connecticut. If interested do make requests, special orders through your local fish stores.

More Likely To Be Encountered Fusiliers:
Genus Caesio

Caesio caerulaurea Lacepede 1801, the Blue and Gold Fusilier. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to Japan and New Caledonia. To fourteen inches in length. These off of Pulau Redang, Malaysia. 

Caesio cuning (Bloch 1791), the Red-Bellied Fusilier. Indo-West Pacific. To about ten inches maximum length. This one in Australian waters.

Caesio lunaris Cuvier 1830, the Lunar Fusilier. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to the Solomon Islands. To sixteen inches maximum length. This one in the Maldives.

Caesio suevicus Klunzinger 1884, The Suez Fusilier. Red Sea endemic. To fourteen inches in length. Here in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Caesio teres Seale 1906, the Goldband Fusilier. To sixteen inches in length. Indo-west Pacific; Africa to Line Islands, excluding the Red Sea. Fiji and N. Sulawesi image of a juvenile, adults above in title table. 


Genus Pterocaesio:

Pterocaesio chrysozona (Cuvier 1830), the Double-Lined Fusilier. Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to eastern Australia. To 21 cm. in length. Here in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Pterocaesio digramma (Bleeker 1865), the Double-Lined Fusilier. Western Pacific; Indonesia to western Australia. To one foot in length. One in Raja Ampat, Indo.

Pterocaesio tile (Cuvier, 1830), the Dark-banded Fusilier. Western Pacific to East Africa; Mauritius to the Australs. To one foot in length. This one in House of Fins, CT.

Pterocaesio trilineata Richardson 1987, the Three-Lined Fusilier. Western Indian Ocean to Western Pacific. To eight inches in length. Photographed in Pulau Redang, Malaysia.


Look at the shape of these fishes. They are fusiform, torpedo-like, with broadly forked caudal fins; built for speed and endurance. These fishes are uber active mid to upper water swimmers; always on the move by day, resting on the bottom in nooks and near rocks by night. If you have more than one specimen they will be almost always in each other’s company.

Fusiliers are very aware fishes, constantly looking about for food or to avoid danger. Should you find a need to capture yours do employ two nets, better, two people to drive the fish to one end and scoop up with a vertical move once cornered.


As previously stated, these are open water fishes that are on the move continuously during the day; they need ROOM; as in hundreds of gallons plus; more so with the larger species. Open space is absolutely necessary, so if rock is to be used in any quantity it is best stacked in corners to allow as much free cruising area as possible. Alternatively the rock may be secured in free-standing bommies, vertical emplacements allowing the fish to swim all about the towers.


Smallish specimens of three to four inches overall length are highly preferred; too small ones starve in transit, and too large individuals cost too much to ship and often get beat in the process of collection, handling. Look prospective purchases over carefully for signs of too much damage; broken fin rays, missing scales, protruding eyes. Fit specimens will be out and about swimming.

I encourage you to avoid just arrived specimens, as these often perish mysteriously overnight. Better to wait a few days to a week for the newbies to harden, become rested and established to captive conditions.

 A healthy small Caesio teres juvenile in Fiji.

 And one for sale in Sacramento, California.


Caesionids are zooplanktivores, eating small free swimming animals like crustaceans, worms and fishes on the fly. They are far from picky feeders though, and I encourage you to center their captive diet on a good quality brand of pelleted food; interspersing periodically with sized frozen/defrosted of live foods.

Ones that I’ve encountered successfully kept in private and public institutions were supplied with frozen/defrosted meaty fare along with a good quality dried/pelleted formulated food. They are easily trained onto non-living foods and voracious feeders. I strongly suggest tying in a large refugium to their main-display system to provide food items all day; along with utilizing automated pelletized food feeders to deliver something to chase a few to several times daily.


Look around for these fishes. Caesionids are offered at more elite fish stores (friend Rob Bray’s House of Fins in Connecticut for one), and etailers like Dr.s Foster & Smith.

The Fusiliers are yet another group of relatively common reef-associated fishes that are suitable for large home aquarium use that rarely show up in dealers offerings. They’re not for everyone, but should you have a system of hundreds of gallons; maybe thousands, do consider stocking a few Caesionids. They’re bright, active fishes that will definitely add interest to a big display.

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