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    Rare and Beautiful | Prognathodes marcellae

    The Marcella Butterfly (Prognathodes marcellae) is a beautiful fish hailing from the waters of Western Africa. This species shares many characteristics with its Prognathodes brethren, namely the caricature like elongated dorsal spines, pointed mouth, and eye stripe. In fact, excluding coloration, P.marcellae is meristcally indistinguishable from its eastern cognates, the Bank Butterfly (P. aya) and […]

    Prognathodes marcellae

    The Marcella Butterfly (Prognathodes marcellae) is a beautiful fish hailing from the waters of Western Africa. This species shares many characteristics with its Prognathodes brethren, namely the caricature like elongated dorsal spines, pointed mouth, and eye stripe. In fact, excluding coloration, P.marcellae is meristcally indistinguishable from its eastern cognates, the Bank Butterfly (P. aya) and the Guyana Butterfly (P. guyanensis).  It also shares an equally confusing histrory having been described twice: Prognathodes marcellae (Poll 1951) and Chaetodon alitpinnis (Cadenat 1951).

    P. marcellae is no stranger to the deep rocky reefs of West Africa and has been documented at depths ranging from 10 to 150m.  Fortunately for aquarists, juvenile specimens have been collected recently at shallow scuba depths, drastically reducing decompression issues. The temperature that many of these fish are collected at is much warmer than one would expect from reading early descriptions of this fish, however, I would err on the cooler side. Temperature records on this species are limited, however, Carl Hubbs (the man who P. carlhubbsi is named after) cites a measurement of  61.5F (16.5C) at 85m in his 1963 analysis on the genus. Given the shallower collection that we see today, temperatures under 77F (25C) seem to be adequate.

    I’ve had the joy of caring for this fish over the past few months and it has made a wonderful addition to the glassbox. Although ample corals are available to nibble on, I have yet to see this occur. In my experience Prognathodes are one of the most ‘coral safe’ butterflies, but the least safe with invertebrates–particularly sessile animals such as feather dusters. They will continually prowl the reef for food using their extended snout to get at any and all that is available. Overall, this species a beautiful, hardy and relatively reef safe butterflyfish that I suspect will become increasingly popular as aquarists venture into mixing reefs and Chaetodontids.

    5 Comments

    1. Ian
      February 8, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

      Great lookin' fish you got there, Eric!

    2. Rob
      February 8, 2010 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

      So is this a glassbox tease?

      It's hard to convey tone through text, so please know that I mean this in the nicest way possible–but I don't get why the glassbox is such a secret. Any more imagery of the whole system?

    3. Rob
      February 9, 2010 at 2:43 AM | Permalink

      So is this a glassbox tease?

      It’s hard to convey tone through text, so please know that I mean this in the nicest way possible–but I don’t get why the glassbox is such a secret. Any more imagery of the whole system?

    4. February 8, 2010 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

      Rob, no tease intended. The post is about P. marcellae and nothing more. The tank is more of a test system at the moment than a display. Once the normal equipment is back on and corals have adjusted I will update.

    5. February 9, 2010 at 4:35 AM | Permalink

      Rob, no tease intended. The post is about P. marcellae and nothing more. The tank is more of a test system at the moment than a display. Once the normal equipment is back on and corals have adjusted I will update.

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