The Roaops subgenus is a favorite of mine. These deepwater butterflies adapt well to captive conditions and generally eat immediately after being place in the aquarium. On top of that they are stunning fish with great personalities. For most aquarists, the unknown species of the subgenus is Chaetodon flavocoronatus. This beautiful fish has markings like C. [...]
The Roaops subgenus is a favorite of mine. These deepwater butterflies adapt well to captive conditions and generally eat immediately after being place in the aquarium. On top of that they are stunning fish with great personalities. For most aquarists, the unknown species of the subgenus is Chaetodon flavocoronatus. This beautiful fish has markings like C. tinkeri but a distinct band just behind the eye like that of C. burgessi, only it is yellow not black. To me this was the holy grail of the Roa group, but some recent specimens that have been collected have greatly changed my view.
C. flavocoronatus was previously thought to only be found nearby Guam, but recently its range, and the range of other Roaops species such as C. tinkeri, has been found to extend to other areas. Thanks to deepwater explorations we now know that C. flavocoronatus can be found outside of Guam and C. tinkeri outside of Hawaii. As we have become aware of their extended range we are also becoming aware of the beautiful hybrids that nature is creating, as Roaops blood is mixed and then mixed again.
Without DNA testing it is difficult to know what the exact make up of each fish is, but the markings give some indication. Hopefully this will be investigated further so we can get a better handle on what mother nature is up to.
John Coppolino (Copps) was fortunate enough to get his hands on 3 Roa hybrids that were collected in the Marshall Islands. Below are his photos of these truly unique fish. A big thanks to John for allowing us to share these photos with our readers and taking the time to geek out with myself over this amazing subgenus.
This first specimen was collected nearly a month ago and shows very distinct markings. At just 2″, the tinkeri/flavocornatus and burgessi is readily apparent. This is a spectacular fish that I am very jealous that I do not own. I now have my own, please see here.
When John got word that a pair was available he jumped on the opportunity. Unlike the first specimen, this pair gives us larger hints of having C. flavocoronatus blood. The yellow band markings peek out despite being mixed with those of C. burgessi.
One of the pair shows very faint C. flavocoronatus and C. burgessi markings. If it were not for the pure white tail most would mistake this at a fish store as a standard C. tinkeri.
These very faint markings are not unheard of, but still very rare. Here are two different hybrids from Japan that show a similar faint C. burgessi band.
As I mentioned previously Chaetodon flavocoronatus is not readily known by most aquarists. With the recent collection of these unique hybrids it is making a few consider that C. flavocoronatus x C. burgessi hybrids have come in the past. This would not be much of a surprise given the larger range of C. burgessi but still very cool. Here is a photo of a C. flavocoronatus that went to Japan. Typically the yellow band behind the eye is a purer yellow. This “dirty” coloration may hint at a hybridization with C. burgessi…?
Again thanks to fellow fish nut John Coppolino for sharing his stories and photos with us. We wish him success with these beautiful fish.