The pineapplefish is an unusual visitor to the Cape, usually preferring the warm waters of the Indian Ocean reefs and rocky shores. It is a nocturnal predator, using bioluminescent lures to attract small prey close to its hiding place.

This fish lives in the sublittoral zone, 20-200m below the surface and prefers to live near rocky overhangs, coral reefs and under ledges. Pineapplefish are usually solitary animals, but do sometimes form small schools, especially when hunting.

When hunting, the pineapplefish uses bioluminescent bacteria contained in two pouches around its mouth to lure planktonic invertebrates and small fish close. The pineapplefish has evolved the ability to control these bacteria – turning the light blue-green when hunting, orange to aid camouflage during the day and completely off to hide at night.

Its pretty yellow and black scales are not only for show – the pineapplefish is actually fully armoured. The yellow scales that look similar to the bumps on a pineapple are called scutes or bony plates. The rays of the pineapplefish’s fins point backwards and are tipped with fierce spikes that can be locked  into position to deter attacks from behind.

The pineapplefish has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

Species Facts

  • It is also known as the Japanese pinecone fish.
  • Inhabits coasts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from South Africa to Japan and Australia.
  • Has large dorsal spines to stick in the throat of anything that tries to eat it.
  • Nocturnal, uses bioluminescence to lure prey.
  • Can grow up to 25cm long.
  • Is not related to the pineapple.