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FAQs on Centropyge Angelfishes Identification

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Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Centropyge deborae      8/15/16
Dear Sir/Madam,
It has been a while since I contacted wwm, but I have just recently discovered, after a friend sent me a link, that the above-mentioned fish was named at WSI, although I have no animosity towards the Smith's, I am a little upset that I personally collected this fish in 1994, before WSI set up in Fiji, and although I thought it was a different fish from the other Centropyges, I was told it may be a variant phase of the coral beauty, it is quite sad that they claim to have discovered it.
<I know of this fish, the Smith's collectors first gathering this new species... It is "the rule" that such namings are "date regulated"; that is, the first "acceptable", "scientific" description and publication stands as the original. I would state that there are VERY likely other Centropyge in mesophotic depths (one can guess more likely areas by a cursive study of
zoogeography), and that for sure there are other Labrid and Anthiine species found about the Great Sea Reef. Consider getting on out, making collections and sending same to folks, institutions that do such "naming".
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
I look forward to hear from you
*Peter Savona*
*Waterlife Exporters (Fiji) Limited*
Re: Centropyge deborae      8/16/16

Hi Peter,
I just got this copied to me from Bob.
I know how frustrating it must be to think you might have discovered something only to find out later that someone else has claimed it.
As Bob points out, it is not about who saw it first but who takes the initiative to go through the long and tedious process of getting it scientifically documented. This process usually takes about two years and many specimens must be supplied to the scientist to insure it is not just a one off or variant. Only after the DNA is conclusive matching it against other closely related species and several samples are provided to prove separate identity can the "new" specimen be named.
In this case there was another famous scientist who also "discovered" this same fish before 1994 when he was a professor at USP. I am talking about Dr. Bruce Carlson and he actually has a video of a pair C. deborae mating which also appears on my web site. Bruce is a good friend of mine and we laugh about how he thought it was different but brushed it off as a variant and instead concentrated on another fish from the same reef which was also a new discovery that later became classified as the Cirrhilabrus marjorie (named after his wife Marj) which was found on the same reef. We often joke about how we both have fish named after our wives found in only one place on earth so far as we know. Up till now this fish has only been associated with Bligh water area so I am curious if your sighting was in Suva bay.
Just recently I thought I had another new discovery only to find out I was looking at a Cirrhilabrus nahackyi and then there is the other angel on my web site that still have not been confirmed as a new specie and some scientist believe it to be a variant and some say otherwise. Take a look at this as I compare it to the C. heraldi for size and swim pattern side by side.
All the best,
<Ahh; thank you for your complete, civil response Walt. Much appreciated.
Oh! And see you and Deb soon here in San Diego at the upcoming MACNA do.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Centropyge Deborae     /Peter       8/18/16

Hey Bob,
How are you, been a while, I hope you are well, truth be told, Walt is a good man, (that is why he is Cc'd as well), and his explanation is fair, yes I do understand in principal, the reasoning, but* I must admit I find it wrong in principal, that a fish is named to anyone other than the diver who collected it, at the very least, and Ideally to the first discoverer
is not the norm!!.*
<Mmm; "dem are da rules"; and makes sense that a "science type" does the naming; as they are responsible for adequately describing. The times I've been involved in such... from collecting, supplying specimens on up; the
"namer" has sought out my input for the name itself.>
I do have a photo somewhere, but I really cannot say much beyond that, as I am not a scientist, or have the money or facility to do such things, maybe if it was in Charles Darwin's time I could have got away with it, lol.
And no Walt it was not in Suva.
Thanks, and regards
Peter Savona
Waterlife Exporters (Fiji) Limited
<Thank you Peter. Hope to see you about. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Centropyge Deborae    /Walt       8/18/16
Hi Peter,
<Hey Walt, BobF kibitzing here>
Thanks for the nice words.
Not to beat a dead horse but I must point out one simple fact …. Without documented proof of discovery there is no such thing as the one who saw it first. You must realize that even though I believe you to be an honest person there are many who are not. The fact remains that Dr. Bruce Carlson actually saw it first and has documented it on video but he brushed it off as a variant and he is an expert. This actually happens a lot and that is why the proof of finding must be documented so meticulously with spine and scale count (the old way) and in recent years with conclusive DNA testing against other closely related species. I also had to prove that there were no Centropyge nox anywhere in our waters which it so closely resembled. Then multiple specimens needed to be supplied to prove it was not just a one off.
All of this work and effort is supplied by the applicant for classification and the time and effort is very consuming. Finally, when the scientific authority has conclusive proof that it is a different specie they are able to name the fish. The original name picked for this fish was Centropyge fijiensis but they asked me if I would prefer another name and I chose to honor my wife Deborah. Also the fact is that several divers were involved in the collection but they had no idea it was a different specie. I recognized this possibility and the fish “belonged” to me since they were paid by my company so I had the right to follow through with the expensive and time consuming exercise of getting it named.
On another note, if you ever find another fish you believe to be different I will be happy to show you the ropes that I followed and perhaps there is a savonei out there somewhere. :)
<I'm very sure there is/are. I saw a few undescribed species while up in Labasa>
Also, did you spot this in Bligh or up north? It was first sighted by Bruce in Bligh near Namana but we first collected it North West of Raki Raki but we now collect them in Bligh off of Nabawalau. They are very plentiful up there where we collect more than 100 in a day but we do not do this too often because, to be frank, they do not sell very well because the color is not that interesting to the aquarist. We only collect them about 3 – 4 times a year and that is all the market will bear.
Also please look at my web site and you will see Bruce’s video of a pair of C. deborae mating but what I really want you to see is the other “different” angel I have there. We have found two of these fish several years ago and the scientist is waiting for more specimens but I have not been able to find any more. Dr. Richard Pyle and Jack Randal say variant but Bruce is on the fence and Dr. Gerald Allen is also not sure. I have heard there were other collectors in Suva (now long gone) that also claim to have seen many of these but there is no proof other than I did see it on live aquaria web site and it did not come from me since I only sent mine to the scientific authority that I worked with before. It could be a variant of C. heraldi (as some suggest) but I doubt it since I have seen three specimens exactly the same and the size and swim pattern is very different than Centropyge and more like Genicanthus. Please let me know if you have seen anything like this in your waters. There are many variants of heraldi, bicolor, lemon peel mix with black tails or black splotches but this is very different and precisely marked on each specimen I have come across which is not typical of variants.
See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJIPY4t4IYo <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJIPY4t4IYo&feature=youtu.be> &feature=youtu.be
Deborae pair here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnj0JHsAIzI
Take care Peter, right now I am in LA getting ready for MACNA.
All the best,
<Thanks Walt. See you soon. BobF>
Re: Centropyge Deborae      8/22/16

hi Crew, Bob, and Walt,
Sorry late reply, and thanks for all the explanation, all the best
Peter Savona
Managing Director
Waterlife Exporters (Fiji) Limited
<Cheers Peter, BobF>

Need ID please,,, Centropyge... cross?      2/1/16
Hi Bob,
Is this a Venustus Pygmy Angelfish?
<At least partly I believe. Have shared on FB, looking for others input>
We aren't sure because of the markings
on the anal fin. What say you?
<It's gorgeous... don't know if it's simply an aberrant Venustus or a cross. Thank you for sharing.
Will hold onto this email and report if there is further input. Bob Fenner>

From FB:      2/1/16
Lemon Tyk, others; what do you make of this Venustus Angel pic? Just an aberrant individual? A cross you've come across?
Lemon Tyk      2/1/16
Hi Bob Fenner. Not a venusta (although the nape and posterior dorsal markings are highly reminiscent). I was just discussing this with Brian D. Greene about a week back. We know this fish is definitely Centropyge heraldi, but aberration or hybrid, we're not sure. Some literature suggests C. heraldi x C. nox, and I can kind of understand see that happening. The body profile is slightly taller in this fish (very elongate in heraldi). The convoluted squiggling on the anal fin is also unusual. While C. heraldi has this, it is usually quite nascent and difficult to see. The weird thing is, this phenotype has the ability to lose the black almost completely. While not all of them do, it certainly is possible. So the question of hybrid vs. aberrant is somewhat equivocal (?) perhaps? All guesswork without molecular analysis.
Like · Reply · Just now
Bob Fenner      2/1/16

Wow! And to think years back there was discussion that C. heraldi was a nullum nudum! Thank you for this. JanL note.
Lemon Tyk      2/1/16
FTR, both nox and heraldi have very similar fin counts. I tried comparing this against the two and found nothing really conclusive....
Re: Need ID please      2/1/16

Thank you, Bob. Feel free to share...
<Ah; thank you Jan. I see you've seen Lemon's comments. Surprised to find this labeled as a Herald's. Shades of Earl S.!
Re: Need ID please      2/1/16

Yes. Thank you for your help. LOL!!
<Welcome. B>
Re: Need ID please      2/1/16

<I still think this might be a cross. B>
Re: Need ID please      2/1/16

I don't discount it being a cross especially when we see fish like mandarin cross breeding because of over fishing.... Nature still gifts us for our greed...
<Thus far... B>

I Saw an Angel, but She Didn't see Me.. What is This Fish? Or, "OMG it's Gorgeous!" Hey Bob, <James> Saw this while I was at the Okinawa aquarium - and can't figure out what it is? It's a pygmy, about 2.5 inches. Got any ideas?  <Yes... a very nice pic, individual of Centropyge interruptus, the Japanese Dwarf Angel. BobF


Dwarf angel question  03/26/07 I purchased this dwarf angel as a half black angel, however, I believe it may be a Eibli/Half black hybrid.  Could you give me your opinion?   <I think you're right...> If it is a hybrid, how rare is he? <Mmm, "kind of"... there are numerous crosses within Centropyges... just not often collected...>   how much does he usually sell for? (I got him for 25 bucks) and is there an increased level of care for him? <A bargain... Most places I know of would be twice or more this> Thanks in advance,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Golden Pygmy Angel Hey crew! A LFS was having a huge sale on livestock and tanks yesterday. I went there to just look.. (yeah right) and when I got to the fish section the very first fish I saw was a Golden Dwarf Angelfish. I have never seen one of these nor heard of them. The price tag was $90... <A bit steep. My thinking was the Flame Angel is the priciest among this species.>  ... and they had 30% off live stock so I could not say no. I really cant find a lot of info on this. I have looked on this website and found little as well. So could you guys give me some info on this fish? Are they a hardy fish? Are they rare to see in home aquariums?  <Larry, most of the pygmy angels are fairly hardy. I'm thinking what you have is a Rusty Angel. Here is a link with some pics. See if any of these look like yours. The link does have much to offer on the pygmy angels. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/centropyge2.htm  James (Salty Dog)> <<Mmm, if you go there James, you'll find this is a Centropyge aurantius. RMF>>

Golden Pygmy Angel Hey James! Thanks for the link. I did find the my angel. Its on the pt1 the 3rd pic down. It does says its a Golden Pygmy Angel. At my LFS the Flame Angel goes for about $50. I did find another Golden Pygmy Angel at another LFS and they had it for $100. Anyway thanks for your response.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Re: possible hybrid I caught a angelfish and it looks to be a hybrid angel a cross between a flame angel and a coral beauty.  Was wondering if it has a name and if it has been discovered before? <Mmm, a coral-flame angel? There are many examples of Centropyge crosses. Don't think I've seen or heard of this one. Maybe give a look at the newest Allen, Allen and Steene Angel/Butterflyfish book... or a quick jaunt through the scientific literature. Bob Fenner> Terry

Re: Centropyge nahackyi VS multicolor Hi guys, Just like Bob Fenner said, they are 2 different fish. I asked Richard Pyle this back in December, he's been out having fun................Looks like I will want to get both and add them to my 29. John Dawe aka Dr. Kevorkian to all fish & chipmunks <Rich guy to his friends. Bob Fenner>

Fish Identity I am looking for the name of, and more info about, the lovely red & white striped angelfish? pictured on the front cover of A Guide To Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. I can't afford to buy the book just to answer this question, and I haven't been able to find a copy to look at locally. Can you help? <The fish in question is commonly referred to as the Peppermint Angel, Paracentropyge or Centropyge boylei I believe.> Thank you, Tom Berry <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Picts of Chaetodon nippon and Centropyge interruptus (Note: post FishBase links) Hello Bob, I've referred to your WetWebMedia site so frequently that I felt compelled to contribute and give something back. I see that you have been missing some images for a while so after a quick search, I was able to locate some. I hope you will be able to get their permission to use them. Chaetodon nippon: http://www.FishBase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=nippon Centropyge interruptus : http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Centropyge&speciesname=interruptus .. Toby <Thanks for this effort, offer. Am a collaborator with FishBase, but will settle here with adding your, their links where these images could/should be on WWM for now. Let's go out there and make our own! Bob Fenner>

Coral beauty or Yellowfin? Bob et al, I recently (6 weeks ago) added what I thought was a Coral Beauty, only to see on your site that it may be a Yellowfin or moonbeam dwarf. How can I be sure? <You should be able to distinguish them from the photos. Please see here for additional pictures   www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=10974&genusname=Centropyge &species name=flavipectoralis> My guy looks more like the guy in the Yellowfin pic, and has the bright yellow pectoral fins, also bright blue dorsal fin, blue tail and blue head, a yellow body with blue stripes. <The yellow body part is off for this fish. All the photos I have ever seen show a pretty dark body. There is a lot of hybridization amongst Centropyges. Perhaps you have one. Feel free to send us a picture if you can get it, something in the 400 KB range.> Your description "good fish for medium aggressive fish-only set-ups" kind of concerns me. The Yellowfin is currently the only fishy inhabitant of a 55 gallon with some mushrooms. I'd like to add some more softies in the future (I have 4x48"NO fluorescents). I also have a gold striped maroon clown freshly in the quarantine tank. Do you foresee any problems? <No> I've been watching for some nips at the mushrooms, none yet, keeping my fingers crossed. <LPS corals would be in more danger along with Xenia and feather dusters.> Any tankmates to suggest? <As per most Centropyge.> It would also have to be DSB safe, no sand sifters eating my pods. <Not a problem with this fish. -Steven Pro>

Centropyge ID I ran across your descriptions of these guys on WetWebMedia while trying to identify my newest acquisition. I have had no luck in my attempt however - and I thought you might shed some light. Unfortunately I don't have a camera/scanner etc. so a good description is all I can offer. This guy is about one inch total length, he is a deep blue color - nearly black, he has an underlying (still shaded by the deep blue color) rusty/orange color on his face, where C. argi would normally be yellow. The eye is where this fades into the deep blue, and the eye shares a little of the orange color, the ring in his eye is orange. The caudal fin is yellow which fades to clear at the edges much like C. acanthops. The pectoral and anal fins have a bright blue band at the bottoms. There are no other markings on the fish (stripes on the rear fins etc.). My guess is that it is some variation on acanthops - but the lack of any brighter color above the eye bothers me. I would say it was argi without question (much darker in the face) if it weren't for the yellow caudal fin. I am perplexed - is it possible that I have a hybrid here? Could this be a juvenile coloration? Or is there some other guy that I haven't found in my research. Also, he was sold to me by a local merchant as a damsel from the damsel tank (2.99 - what a steal)...they were in a Philippine shipment as far as I can tell. I am positive it is an angel, however:) If I can give you any other info to help...let me know. Thanks for your help, and I will continue to recommend your book to beginners at the LFS I work at. Shawna Gunnarson <Huh, interesting... and good description... From the P.I...? Does sound like this may possibly be a juvenile Centropyge flavicauda. Take a look on FishBase for some more images. http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.cfm?ID=5664  There are a few damsel (yes the family) possibilities as well... like Pomacentrus chrysurus... but as with heels, and wounding, time will tell. Bob Fenner>
Re: Remember my Mystery Centropyge?
Not such a mystery anymore it seems. After doing some more detailed searching under all of the Centropyge names I came up with a picture of my fish...I first found one in Pablo Tepoot's picture book guide to indo-Pac fishies...and I also found the one I am sending. My fish is more purple and has a brighter orange...but this is definitely him. Identifiers point to him as C. flavicauda, although he bears little resemblance to other pictures I have seen of this fish, including the most commonly cited pic. in Burgess. I would probably have to mutilate the poor little guy to find out for sure, but I'd bet that this guy is a different fish than the flavicauda in Burgess. But now that I have bored you to tears I will end up with the fact that whatever he is he is very happy, and will soon be a resident in my new 135 reef. (more sand I need MORE SAND>>> sorry, the insanity is setting in now. Maybe I'll talk to you later about something that is actually useful to the rest of humanity...:) but until then...happy fishkeeping. Shawna Gunnarson <Ah, not so insane (or you're in good company, and plenty of it at least). And this fish is/can be quite variable... and is a good to great dwarf-dwarf Angel... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
Re: Centropyge ID
You know...if I have to wait to find out what it is...then I'd rather have it be a juv. C. interruptus if it's all the same to you :) What I don't understand is how anybody could think that an angel is a damsel...he really doesn't look or (more importantly) behave like one at all. I will let you know if he ever changes over...if not, he's still a very interesting little guy...always busy picking at some part of my reef. .. (If you ever find any angel that's "reef safe" I'll eat my sock:) (and no dead ones don't count)) Hope you have a nice Labor Day holiday. Shawna  <Well stated and taken... Embarrassing as it may seem to admit, there are Damsels (yes, family Pomacentridae) with "this and that Dwarf Angel" common names and vice versa... and I have been "on location" only to miss them camera-wise because their behavior and appearance seems so "other family"... Ah well. Good holidays to you as well. Bob Fenner, who is "reef safe", but definitely not an angel.>

Resplendent Dwarf Angel Howdy there Bob, I was on your site and came across the Pygmy Angel page and of course I just had to check them out < s >. I just received a Golden and a Multicolor, and am expecting to get hold of a C. joculator in the near future. I noticed you are in need of a picture for the Resplendent. you are more than welcome to use any of the photos off my Resplendent Page if you wish. the addy is; >>http://www.aquarium-design.com/fish/resplendent.html << so, when are we going back to Hawaii...or any other tropical island in the south pacific < s > ? Jim Stime Aquarium Design <Thanks for the pic off Jim. And am off to southern Japan over Toikeydaze, but/and will venture out anytime you have the resources. Keep in touch. Bob Fenner>

Picture of Centropyge Colini Hello, My wife and I are avid reefkeepers and big fans of your site, and we couldn't help noticing that you didn't have a picture of the Centropyge Colini. After quite a bit of waiting we've managed to get a decent shot of the one that lives in our 230 gallon reef. We're sending it along to you for use on your site, if you like. The only thing we ask in return is credit for the photo. <Ah, certainly. Thank you. Posted> We also have some small 5-second video clips of the colini going about his daily business. (he eats like a pig!!). Let us know if you'd like to see them and we can email them to you. <Someday soon my friend... we will have video> Thanks for all the great work on the site and in your writing! Sincerely, Evan McLaughlin <Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner>

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here

New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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