Axilspot Hogfish (Bodianus axillaris)

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Axilspot Hogfish
Bodianus axillaris
Axilspot Hogfish (Bodianus axillaris)
Name Axilspot Hogfish
Name Lat. Bodianus axillaris
Family Wrasses
Family lat. Labridae
Order Wrasses & Relatives
Order lat. Labriformes
Origin Indo-Pacific, Red Sea
Habitat Lagoons, seaward reefs
Diet Carnivore
pH 8,1-8,4
Hardness 8-10 °KH
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual, pair
Reef Compatible With caution
Care Level Moderate
Life Span 5-8 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 20 cm
Temperature 22-27 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium ~ 650 l
US Units
Size 8"
Temperature 72-81 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium ~ 170 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of Bodianus axillaris is the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific, from South and East Africa through Indonesia to Japan and Australia. They live mostly in clear lagoons and on outer reefs, juveniles like to stay in caves and under rock ledges.


They are keen swimmers and require a well-structured aquarium with plenty of swimming space, a reef structure (hiding and retreat possibilities) with live stones, which act like a biological filter, as well as sand areas, made of fine sand at least 10 cm deep (no coral rubble!). Only lime-rich, heavy metal-free sands, gravels or stones may be used.

Filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary to ensure water quality, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. Lighting must be appropriate for the species' day-night rhythm

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-10 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l

For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention must be paid to constantly good water quality.


Juveniles act as cleaner fish and eat parasites, adults feed mainly on snails, worms, mussels and small fish. The food change usually succeeds without problems. The food supply should consist of a combination of mysis, krill, artemia, smelt, shrimp, mussel and crab meat, or a commercially available vitamin-enriched frozen food mix. High-quality flake and granulated food is also often accepted after a period of acclimation

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. This reduces intra-species aggression and protects lower animals in the aquarium. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

The young fish, mostly females, are peaceful among themselves and can be kept without problems. With the sex change to the male, the aggression increases. Single or pair keeping is recommended. To avoid ranking fights, they should be introduced into the aquarium at the same time and only be socialized with robust and lively fish.

Sex dimorphism

They are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that most males develop from functional females when needed, and are referred to as "secondary males." External distinguishing characteristics are not known.

Reproduction and breeding

There are no known reports of successful breeding in the aquarium


Their color dress varies greatly depending on age

As reef dwellers, they should not be kept in a fish-only aquarium. With sufficient and varied feeding, which also reduces aggressiveness, they can be kept well with invertebrates (corals), only tubeworms, snails, crabs etc. should be kept with caution.

They do well with bristle worms. When threatened, they sometimes bury themselves in the sandy substrate.

If different species are kept together, care should be taken to ensure that the fish match each other in terms of water quality and temperature requirements and social behavior, and that the setup meets the needs of all species kept together. Newly introduced fish must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BAENSCH & DEBELIUS (2006): Meerwasser Atlas Bd. 1, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF