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    Apolemichthys Hybrid and the Armitage Angelfish

    This past week GBD contributor Tetsuo Otake received an Apolemichthys hybrid. It is most likely Apolemichthys xanthurus x Apolemichthys trimaculatus. Similar fish were imported to Japan and sold for a hefty sum, but this particular specimen damaged its mouth–nothing some additional care cannot take care of.  For the Pomacanthidae lovers, you’d know this hyrbid is also […]

    This past week GBD contributor Tetsuo Otake received an Apolemichthys hybrid. It is most likely Apolemichthys xanthurus x Apolemichthys trimaculatus. Similar fish were imported to Japan and sold for a hefty sum, but this particular specimen damaged its mouth–nothing some additional care cannot take care of. 

    For the Pomacanthidae lovers, you’d know this hyrbid is also believed to be the Armitage Angelfish (Apolemichthys ‘armitagei’). I use quotes around the species because of its questioned validity; from Richard Pyle’s 2003 dissertation A systematic treatment of the reef-fish Family Pomacanthidae,  “The nominal species Apolemichthys armitagei represents hybrid forms between A. trimaculatus and A. xanthurus.” 

    Apolemichthys armitagei

    The Armitage Angelfish is believed to be a hybrid of A. trimaculatus and A. xanthurus for its intermediary position between the two. Most notably the nape, precaudal haemal spines, and color. A. armitagei was originally recognized as a distinct species by Heemstra (1984). It seems at the time much of the anatomy was compared to just A. trimaculatus. For example A. trimaculatus only shows expansion of the first two haemal spines, where as A. ‘armitagei’ shows three. Randall and Pyle went and examined both species and they found the same evidence that Heemstra cited, except they went ahead and looked at A. xanthurus which had 4. The intermediary between two and four would be three as the Armitage Angelfish exhibits.

    In addition to this A. ‘armitagei’ is rarely seen in nature. It is not uncommon fo Apolemichthys species to enhabit deep waters (e.g. A. arcuatus and A. guezi), however Pyle and Randall note that all the collected Armitage angelfish have been solitary and at depths of 10-40m in areas regular explored by divers.

    I am not aware of any DNA testing that has been performed yet, but the fathers of modern ichthyology all seem to agree that armitagei is not a distinct species. What I love about hybrids and the Armitages is their color variability. The specimen Tetsuo received is extremely yellow in color. Perhaps hinting at re-mixed blood with A. trimaculatus. It would be not be impossible.  A. trimaculatus is the shall we say… the courtesan of the Apolemichthys genus. I was even recently informed by Angelfish aficionado John Coppolino, that it is suspected to hybridize with the rare Tiger Angelfish (A. kingii). That’s a hybrid I’d love to own, but my bank account shutters at the thought.

     

    More info see Richard Pyle’s dissertation:

    Pyle, Richard. A systematic treatment of the reef-fish Family Pomacanthidae. Diss. University of Hawaii, 2003.

     

     

    2 Comments

    1. Mike
      July 9, 2009 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

      I purchased what I thought was a juvi flagfin angel a little over a year ago. I believed it was a juvi due to its size, color, and missing the tan spots behind the head.

      Over the past 4 months all of the fishes black marks are slowly disappearing. I first noticed the black bar on his bottom fin shrink to a 1/3rd of its original size. Additionally, the black bars on the fishes eyes are practically gone.

      Besides the color change, the fish looks healthy.
      I posted my issues on reefcentral.com and someone guided me to your website.

      After reading the article, it is my belief that I might have an Armitage angel, what are your thoughts?

      The picture link below are to my picture gallery on reefcentral:
      The first pic was taken about a year ago
      http://www.reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/87379flagfinandsingapore1-med.jpg

      The second pic was taken this week
      http://www.reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/87379flagfin2.jpg

      Thank you for your time and any help you might be able to offer.

      Mike

    2. July 10, 2009 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

      @Mike, Thanks for stopping by. Please see John’s response on your RC thread. The coloration is very similar to Tetsuo’s “hybrid Armitage” but the coloration should not come and go.

      If you have additional photos of the old and new coloration it would be most helpful. Unfortunately I cannot offer anything more than speculation.

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