The Blackbar Soldierfish (Myripristis jacobus)

blackbar soldierfish

Last updated on July 2nd, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Blackbar soldierfish (Myripristis jacobus) is one of the most popular and hardy saltwater aquarium fish available today. With their striking black bar, these fish are commonly called Big Eye Black Bar Soldierfish by hobbyists.

But these fish require more than just their pretty looks to survive in an aquarium environment, and it’s important to choose your blackbar soldierfish carefully if you plan on keeping them for an extended period of time. Let’s take a look at how to take care of blackbar soldierfish and how to find one that will thrive in your aquarium.

A type of fish that belongs to the family Holocentridae (Squirrelfish), the Blackbar Soldierfish is an active swimmer that likes to be kept in an aquarium with at least 30 gallons of saltwater and plenty of covers to protect itself from predators and objects within the aquarium. If you’re ready to welcome this species into your home, here’s everything you need to know about the Myripristis jacobus.

It’s hard to ignore the colorful and unique appearance of the blackbar soldierfish. This member of the myripristis genus can be found in both marine and brackish waters, so it’s easy to see why it would be on your radar if you keep saltwater aquariums. However, what does one do with an intriguing fish like this?

On top of that, the Blackbar Soldierfish has somewhat of an identity crisis because it’s been used as both a food fish and as an aquarium fish at different times in its history; but regardless of what you want to do with your Blackbar Soldierfish, there are some things you need to know before bringing one home!

Let’s learn more about the blackbar soldierfish and see what makes it such an interesting species to keep in your tank!

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Origin and description

blackbar soldierfish

The blackbar soldierfish is a type of marine fish found in Indo-Pacific waters, where it lives in coral reefs. It belongs to a group called damselfish. The name of its genus, Myripristis, comes from two Greek words meaning ‘many bristles,’ an obvious reference to its colorful feathery dorsal fin.

The soldierfish’s common name references its striped appearance, reminiscent of soldiers’ uniforms—particularly those worn by soldiers who fought during World War I. In addition to stripes, individual members of species are identified by unique markings on their body; some people say that these markings look like a bar code.

Species profile

blackbar soldierfish

The blackbar soldierfish belongs to a large family of small fish called Holocentridae (Squirrelfish). This small, colorful fish is a peaceful, friendly community fish that can live in saltwater aquariums. It is easy to care for and is most commonly found at pet stores.

This species grows to an average size of three inches and should be housed in a 30-gallon or larger aquarium with a sandy bottom, smooth rocks, and plenty of places for it to hide. A diet of frozen brine shrimp, plankton, and other meaty foods will keep your Myripristis happy and healthy. Keep your tank’s water temperature between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.


The blackbar soldierfish is primarily a marine fish that lives in coastal waters throughout most of its range. On occasion, it has been found as far north as San Francisco Bay, making it one of the few members of its family to inhabit freshwater. Although marine, it will tolerate low levels of salinity and even partial exposure to air if given time to recover.

Blackbar soldierfish size

Myripristis jacobus is not a small fish. Adult Myripristis may reach over 10 inches (25 cm) in length, and when fully grown their bodies are usually between 1 to 2 inches thick. Younger fish will tend to have thinner bodies.

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Blackbar soldierfish tank size

The size of your tank will depend upon a variety of factors. Some of these include: what other fish you plan to keep, how many fish you want to keep, and if you are planning on breeding or not. The smallest tank that I would recommend keeping these guys in is 125 gallons. Anything smaller, and they just won’t be happy. If you want more than one fish, go with at least a 200 gallon tank.

Blackbar soldierfish tank mates

While there are no species of fish that are incompatible with Myripristis jacobus, other fish that can create tension in a community tank should be avoided, such as lionfish or butterflyfish.

Some good tank mates are Blue tangs, clownfish, balloonfish, and most other fish that don’t nip at their fins.


blackbar soldierfish

Myripristis jacobus can be bred in marine aquariums. The eggs are very small and they hatch inside of their mothers’ bodies. Fertilized eggs will become free swimming in about 4 days. Fry are fed rotifers initially, changing to Artemia nauplii once large enough. Diet should include meaty foods, flakes, pellets, and frozen Mysis.

Males are territorial when breeding and care must be taken to remove one if too many are kept together, as injuries may occur. Eggs hatch normally around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature. After hatching, raise temperature to 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of a few days to avoid possible infections due to sudden changes in water temperatures.

If a female is not ready, release her back into your main tank after spawning is complete.

Are Blackbar soldierfish aggressive or peaceful?

The blackbar soldierfish is generally peaceful, with no reported incidents of aggressive behavior. It should be housed in a community tank or display aquarium with other fish that are of a similar size and temperament, as it has no real way to defend itself against larger predators. This fish prefers to stay towards the top of its habitat but will swim at all levels in search of food. It is not an overly active swimmer but spends much time feeding on various live foods.

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Blackbar soldierfish care

blackbar soldierfish

The black-banded soldierfish is a very easy fish to care for and makes a wonderful addition to any home or office. It has earned a spot in many saltwater aquariums because of its beauty, peaceful nature, and unusual coloration. The black-banded soldierfish is an omnivore, eating algae, meaty, and plant matters. It will even eat hair algae if available.

What do Blackbar soldierfish eat?

They should be given live foods such as brine shrimp and ghost shrimp at least three times per day or they will become malnourished and potentially sick. Algae wafers are a good choice too. Live crabs, shrimps, fish pieces, and snails can also be offered to supplement their diet with vitamin C but shouldn’t make up more than 5% of their diet by volume otherwise stomach problems may occur due to indigestible shells.

Water parameters

blackbar soldierfish

The Black Bar Soldierfish can live in most saltwater aquariums and thrive in a wide range of water conditions. The preferred temperature is 74 to 82°F. The pH should be between 8.1 and 8.4, but they will also tolerate other ranges within reason. Water changes should be done at least monthly, however, weekly or bi-weekly changes are recommended for optimum health and vitality of your fish.

Changing 50% of the water each week is a good guideline, with 25% being optimal if you have larger tanks. Chemical filtration should remove ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates using a filter media like activated carbon or an ammonia filter. Biological filtration can be accomplished through gravel cleaning or protein skimming as well as other methods depending on your setup.

Blackbar soldierfish lifespan

The Blackbar Soldierfish will live for 7 – 10 years with proper care.

Parasites and diseases

The blackbar soldierfish is generally disease and parasite-free. However, it’s not uncommon for aquarium fish to be shipped with external parasites such as anchor worms, flatworms, and flukes. If you notice that your blackbar soldierfish has a parasite, contact your local fish store to determine what treatment will kill off these parasites without harming your fish.

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With its large mouth and sharp teeth, it is not uncommon for larger fish, like triggerfish and pufferfish to prey on Myripristis jacobus. Due to their small size, though, very few things are able to consume a full-grown blackbar soldierfish. They live most of their lives in rock crevices where they are out of reach from most predators.

Do Blackbar soldierfish make great pets?

Yes. While keeping any type of fish requires a significant amount of care and maintenance, it is possible to keep blackbar soldierfish as pets in aquariums that can provide them with their basic needs. However, they do not work well as schooling fish and are best kept alone or in pairs. Also, they should not be kept with invertebrates like shrimp or snails; they will eat them if hungry enough.