Barberfish “Johnrandallia Nigrirostris”


The barberfish, also known as Johnrandallia nigrirostris, is a type of fish known for its distinct appearance. It has a large head and mouth compared to the rest of the body, which it uses as camouflage against larger predators. The barble on top of their heads also helps them blend into seaweed in coral reefs where they tend to live. They are typically found near Australia, though they have been spotted as far from the continent as Japan.

They are medium-sized fish that commonly grow to be about 12 inches long. They belong to the anglerfish family, which is named for their characteristic lure (the “angler”) used by male members of the species in order to trap prey. The barbel itself can vary greatly in size and structure; it may contain solid bone or may be composed of only cartilage.

In many species, it is partly retractable; in some others, such as the deep-sea anglers (Ceratioidea), the barbel is fixed to the skull and cannot be moved around. The length of this segment varies among different types of fish (from a few millimeters in some lophiiformes, to almost a third of the total length in anglerfish).

Origin and descriptions


The barberfish gets its scientific name from a distinctive feature in both sexes, which is the presence of thin sharp scales on the underside of the body. This makes them resemble a shaving brush with their square cross-section and very close-set soft teeth lining these structures. These are used to scrape algae off rocks in typical reef environments where they live.

The color of this fish is highly variable and can change depending on the environment it lives in, as well as its current situation. They are generally dark brown or green with pale spots or lines along their sides which match those on some other members of their family such as the dusky spinefoot (Siganus luridus).

The barberfish’s caudal fin is black with a yellow edge and their pectoral fins are also tipped in this color. They have large eyes and the mouth has thick lips which surround the four sharp canine teeth on each jaw. These can be used to inflict severe wounds if they are not handled carefully, but generally, these fish pose little threat to humans.

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The barberfish has a long dorsal spine with three or four serrated spines in front of it, which are slightly longer than the head itself. There is also another single spine behind this on each side just before the base of the tail fin. These warn off larger predators when they are being attacked.

Species profile


The barberfish is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, ranging from Nova Scotia to Argentina. They are also known as red-tailed sea bass and can be found living at depths of up to 60 m below the water surface.

Scientific name

The scientific name for the barberfish is “Johnrandallia nigrirostris

Color and appearance

The barberfish is a brownish color, with darker spots on the dorsal side and lighter ones on its ventral side. The body has thin white stripes that run from their mouth to gills.

They have an elongated snout which can be up to double in length than any other part of their head. Their teeth are fused together in bands that form a powerful beak-like structure. The canines of the upper and lower jaws are thicker than other teeth, which allows them to crush hard prey such as sea urchins and bivalves.

The barberfish has two dorsal fins; the first one is spiny while the second one is soft. The first dorsal fin has six spines which are followed by a number of branching rays, while the second dorsal consists of one spine and seven branched rays.

The barberfish grows up to about 90 cm in length with an average weight of around 13 pounds. Its maximum recorded size was 127 cm in length and 25 pounds in weight.

The barberfish is one of the most distinctive fishes, due to its large head which has an elongated snout. The underside of their body is lighter colored while they have dark spots on their dorsal side.

Range and habitat

The barberfish is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, ranging from Nova Scotia to Argentina. They are also known as red-tailed sea bass and can be found living at depths of up to 60 m below the water surface.

They live by themselves or within small groups around large structures on the ocean floor such as coral reefs or rocky areas near the coast.

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The barberfish is a carnivorous fish, with its main prey being sea urchins and bivalves. They have also been known to eat lobsters, crabs, and small octopuses as well as scavenging on dead animals that sink down from above water surface. The beak-like teeth of the barberfish are extremely powerful, allowing them to crush their prey before swallowing it whole.

The barberfish is threatened by overfishing for its meat and fins which makes it an endangered species in some areas of the world. A lot of fish caught as a part of commercial fishing practices come from populations that have been depleted due to high levels of exploitation.

They can be found living alone or within small groups on top of large structures such as coral reefs and rocky areas near the coast of landmasses.


The barberfish grows up to about 90 cm in length with an average weight of around 13 pounds. Their maximum recorded size was 127 cm in length and 25 pounds in weight.

Tank size

The barberfish can grow larger in size, so it is recommended to keep them in a tank of at least 500 gallons in volume.

They are one of the most distinctive fishes due to its large head which has an elongated snout.

Life cycle

The barberfish has an unusual life cycle for a fish. It starts out as male and then changes to female after growing in size. Most fish are the opposite, starting out as female and turning into a male.

They are found in tropical waters throughout the world. The average size of a mature adult ranges from 15 to 24 inches (38–61 cm) long with small juveniles only about an inch or two (25 mm) long when they hatch. It lives at depths of up to 234 feet (71 meters).

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

The barberfish is generally thought to be a peaceful fish. It has never been known to intentionally attack humans, but it’s possible that an angler may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time when one of these fish happens upon their fishing line and takes off with it.

An interesting fact about this species: There are two different sets of teeth, one for eating meat and the other for grinding plant material.

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Barberfish care


The barberfish is considered to be an easy fish to keep in the home aquarium. They will accept almost any type of food, but should also have some algae or plants for them to eat as well.

Barberfish are generally peaceful with other species and only get aggressive when they want their own space.

Barberfish diet

Barberfish are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of foods. They should be fed a mix of chopped seafood, algae wafers, flakes, or pellets that sink to the bottom.

They may also take some flake food as well if it sinks to the bottom for them to feed on later after everyone else has eaten.

Tank mates

Due to their size, the barberfish is generally peaceful with other species. As mentioned previously they will not tolerate others of their own kind in close quarters but are otherwise non-aggressive fish that can be kept with a wide variety of tank mates.

They should only ever be housed with larger fish as small ones may become prey if the barberfish is large enough to eat them.

Barbers generally prefer a smaller tank with minimal water movement and plenty of places they can hide when needed. They need lots of rocks and plants in the aquarium for cover, so make sure you have these ready before bringing home your new fish!

Water conditions


The barberfish is not particularly fussy about water conditions. They will do fine in either brackish or saltwater aquariums as well as freshwater ones but should be acclimated slowly to the change if they are being moved from one type of tank to another.

Barbers also require a high oxygen content in their water and lots of surface area for gas exchange to occur. Make sure the tank is covered adequately or you may find your fish floating at the top!

The barberfish should have some algae or plants in their tank as well, so make sure these are available if they want them. They also eat a variety of food types, including chopped seafood and sinking pellets.

Barberfish are generally peaceful with other species and only get aggressive when they want their own space, so make sure you have lots of rocks and plants to give them hiding places if needed. They do best in tanks without too much water movement or turbulent currents as this can be extremely stressful for the fish.

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Barberfish are not generally kept for breeding, but they will breed in captivity.

To encourage spawning, the water conditions should be similar to those found naturally and there should also be lots of plants and rocks inside their tank for them to lay eggs on or near.

They can eat almost any type of food you feed them as juveniles without problems, but should be fed a mix of chopped seafood and sinking pellets as adults to ensure they get the nutrients they need.


The average barberfish will live anywhere from five to eight years in a home aquarium. Some have been known to live up to twelve, but the average is about seven or eight before they pass away.

Parasites and diseases

Barberfish are subject to the same parasites and diseases as other saltwater fish, including marine ich.

They can also be affected by bacterial infections if their water quality is below par or they have been injured at all. If you find your barberfish gasping for breath at the surface of the tank, it may be due to an infection.


When they are young, they have no known predators other than larger fish.

This changes drastically when the barber becomes an adult and is large enough to eat many smaller fish that would not be considered food normally. They often become prey for eels or even sea turtles in their later years.

Barberfish must never be housed with other barberfish due to their aggressive nature and size, but can live with a wide variety of tank mates.

Does it make good pets?

No, the barberfish is not a good choice for those who are just starting to keep saltwater fish as they require much more care than many other species.

Although the barberfish has been known to live in both brackish and freshwater aquariums, it will generally do best if kept in either saltwater or fully cycled brackish aquarium.


Barberfish are an interesting species to keep, but require much more care than many other fishes. The best way to ensure your barberfish lives a long and healthy life is to feed them nutritious foods and provide them with both brackish water conditions as well as a saltwater aquarium.