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Fiji is an underwater paradise mainly known for its abundance of spectacular soft corals. There are some 725 species of marine fishes cataloged, with many more to be counted still, but the ones collected for the aquarium trade here are surprisingly low in number or volume in shipping. This is a great shame as this island nations resources in tropical marines are vast, and its people in need of more gainful employ.
There are some exemplary individuals (e.g. Tony Nahacky, "king" of Centropyge collectors), and businesses in the country (e.g. Walt Smith) with state-of-the-art facilities for gathering, acclimating, holding and shipping marine livestock. If you are new to our diversion and haven't heard/learned otherwise, not all specimens of a given species are "equal" in their likelihood of adapting, doing well in your aquariums... Not by a long shot. It's a fact for instance, that Dwarf Angels from Fiji have higher historic survivability.
In the way of marine angelfishes, Family Pomacanthidae, Fiji is especially poorly known. The venerable database FishBase.org lists only seven species hailing from the area. I am well aware of at least ten more, having seen, collected, photographed them here myself. This document will disclose all of these species, their suitability for use in captive aquatics, and pertinent notes on their aquarium keeping.
About My Captive Suitability Scoring:
After long thought, investigation of others declared opinions, and handling thousands of these fishes over the last thirty some years in the trade I've come up with the following scheme of "scores" for each on its likelihood of surviving the rigors of aquarium care. To a degree this information is necessarily historical (what has happened, may not be the general trend to come), and is subject to "improvement" on the keepers side as a consequence of providing larger, more stable quarters and more diligent husbandry. But, by and large a relative score of one (1) indicates the "highest and best" survivability under captive conditions; let's say most of the specimens of this species collected surviving more than three months. A score of two (2) is indicative of a mortality of more than fifty percent between one and three months. Lastly, and sufficient for our purposes, a three (3) is the worst score, with more than 50% of the species perishing before a months time of capture. I entreat you to leave the latter group to the sea, or at least to study and provide the best possible circumstances for these animals.
Im aware that other authors, even highly respected scientists? ratings are different than your dealers and mine probably consider my "judgments" too harsh. My advice is indeed, not to rely on what's stated here and/or any one other source of information. Before purchasing these (or other livestock) do your best to gather as much pertinent "accurate, significant, and meaningful" information as you can from reading, other hobbyists and the industry.
Fijian Angelfish Species:
Good to Bad: Aquarium Choices in Fijian Angelfishes
Many of the same species that are available from Fiji are found, imported from the Philippines and Indonesia. And though they're better from Fiji w/o exception, there still exists a general trend in historic survivability by species.
The genus Apolemichthys en toto can be problematical in captivity. The one member found here, the Three-Spot, can be acclimated to a good sized (a hundred gallons plus) full-blown reef system, with plenty of live rock, cryptic organisms (sponges, ascidians...) and algae to forage... Some specimens do fine, stipulated they're "well adjusted" to captivity, handled properly and quickly getting from the wild to your system.
Of the Dwarf Angels of the genus Centropyge, the Flame and Pearl-Scale are superb from Fiji. The Oriole/Bicolor, Coral Beauty and True and False Lemonpeels, as well as Woodhead's Dwarf Angel are solid medium selections, with the remainder of Fijian Centropyge being less good choices. Again, if you have your heart set on any of the species found here, do seek them out from Fiji sources. Though they may well be priced higher than Indo. or P.I. imports, they're well worth the money.
Genicanthus melanospilos is quite common in northern Fijian islands, and in reasonably shallow waters. G. watanabei can be found here, though in deeper water and not in nearly as abundant numbers. I rank the Black Spot as a medium-hardy species and Watanabe's as not nearly so.
The two largish Pomacanthus species found in Fiji are excellent coming from here. The Emperor is no where hardier in the Pacific and the Koran is a real beauty in Fiji... unfortunately often sold as a food fish for about fifty cents each.
The Regal Angelfish is best avoided from Pacific sources, even coming from Hawai'i it doesn't fare as well as ones collected out of the Indian Ocean or best, the Red Sea.
What have you learned here? For one, that according to scientific reports, not much is recorded about even the species of Pomacanthids found in Fijian waters. For two, that in my opinion, experience, due to careful, experienced collectors and businesses operating there, that Fijian sources for these fishes are superior, warranting the few extra dollars they demand at market. What cannot be easily stated in these pages is the nearness of this place, these fishes for your visiting. By all means, do consider a dive adventure travel vacation to Fiji to see these angelfishes in their environment.
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