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Videos of displaying Sailfin Anthias, Rabaulichthys sp.

By Matt Wandell - Posted Jul 19, 2011 08:00 AM
Sailfin Anthias are one of the rarest species of Anthias in the US aquarium trade, with perhaps only a handful of specimens imported in the last few years. At first glance they may look like a run of the mill Anthias, but they have a unique dorsal fin that is taller than their body and used in sexual displays. This recently shot footage of a Sailfin Anthias on exhibit at the Steinhart Aquarium shows a male in full display mode.
Videos of displaying Sailfin Anthias, Rabaulichthys sp.

Photo copyright Izuzuki Diver

Last week ReefBuilders posted video of our displaying male Rabaulichthys sp. anthias in a quarantine tank. Recently I shot some more videos of the same fish in an exhibit tank interacting with many other species of anthias, including Pseudanthias tuka, P. randalli, and P. ventralis.

Sailfin Anthias are named for their unusually large dorsal fins which they open wide during sexual displays.  There are at least 3 recognized species in the genus Rabaulichthys, and possibly more undescribed species.  All are found on deeper reefs below 100 feet or so.  Individuals of any species are very rare to find in the aquarium trade.  When I spoke with the collector of this fish he informed me that Rabaulichthys sp. are not uncommon in the Philippines around 130-160 feet on rubble bottoms but are found in small groups of less than 10 individuals.  In contrast, common Pseudanthias spp. such as the Lyretail or Olive Anthias are regularly found in groups of several hundred to several thousand individuals.

Aquarium care for this individual has been pretty straightforward.  For the first 3-4 weeks it only ate live baby brine shrimp and live mysid shrimp.  It initially ignored any frozen foods, including Cyclop-eeze, and also ignored live Daphnia and live adult brine shrimp.  It has now been in captivity for approximately 7 weeks and accepts Cyclop-eeze, Hikari mysis shrimp, and capelin eggs.

This Sailfin Anthias is still a bit on the skinny and frantic side, but as it becomes accustomed to the tank and its tankmates I expect it will become a very happy resident of this exhibit.  Unfortunately the gorgeous displaying behavior of this fish is not generally how it appears most of the time, at least when there aren't females of the same species around.

Author: Matt Wandell
Location: San Francisco

Matt is an Aquatic Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco where he helps tend to the 200,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef exhibit, and has been an avid reefkeeping hobbyist since 1999.


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