Just last week a striking fish was collected that blurred the lines of the Prognathodes genus. Some may suspect that this fish is just a variant of the rare Prognathodes guyanensis, but others, including myself, believe this fish to be a hybrid of P. guyanensis and P. aya. It is a very difficult call, and […]
Just last week a striking fish was collected that blurred the lines of the Prognathodes genus. Some may suspect that this fish is just a variant of the rare Prognathodes guyanensis, but others, including myself, believe this fish to be a hybrid of P. guyanensis and P. aya. It is a very difficult call, and will be impossible to tell without DNA testing–thankfully, specimens of both the suspected parents are now in established aquariums and available for fin clippings DNA sampling. This suspected hybrid along with a P. guyanensis and P. aya have made their way to LiveAquaria. A big thanks to Kevin Kohen for passing along these photos.
The confusion on this particular fish stems from the lack of meristical differences between P. aya and P. guyanensis. In 1963, Prognathodes expert Dr. Carl Hubbs of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography eloquently described the problem with distinguishing these different species,
“The known differences of consequence between this species (P. guyanensis) and its nearest relatives (C. aya and C. marcellae) involve details of the color pattern.”
Meaning, simple morphological intermediation that we expect to see in hybrids is nonexistent–trust me, counting dorsal spines and fin rays gets you no where on this fish!
TOP: P. guyanensis. MIDDLE : Suspected hybrid. BOTTOM: P. aya
Thanks again to Kevin & LiveAquaria for these photos.
Despite what you may read in FishBase scientific papers, the range of Prognathodes guyanensis and Prognathodes aya do overlap in nature. Specifically we’re seeing these species intermix in Florida–where all of these specimens were collected.
This is not the first time this “hybrid” has been collected. Eric Reichardt found and collected this fish years back, along with P. guyanensis,in Florida waters using a rebreather. A few of these fish were sent to Koji Wada of Blue Harbor in Japan (Per com. J. Sprung, J. Coppolino). Unfortunately Eric passed away in 2002 while diving for the illusive Liopropoma aberrans. Rare fish enthusiasts may know Eric for his knack of collecting rare and unusual deepwater fish. To this day he collected the only known Rock Beauty x Blue Angelfish Hybrid.
Various experts have looked at this fish, with differing opinions–what do you think, hybrid or variant? Compare the photos and let us know your thoughts in the comments.