Anthias (Anthiine serranids) are small to medium-sized, brightly colored reef fishes comprising 25 genera and over 200 species. They are planktivores and often form large schools above the reef while feeding. Their peaceful nature and vivid color patterns make them very popular in the aquarium trade. Most anthias species will spawn readily in captivity but are rarely aquacultured because the larval phase is long and complicated.

Yellow Anthias – Odontanthias fuscipinnis  (January 2013)

The Yellow Anthias (Odontanthias fuscipinnis) is a rare, deepwater fish, endemic to Hawaii. It commands a high price in the aquarium trade.

Juvenile Yellow Anthias (Odontanthias fuscipinnis) reared in the laboratory.
Juvenile Yellow Anthias (Odontanthias fuscipinnis) reared in the laboratory.

O. fuscipinnis was reared from a small number eggs collected in December, 2012 in waters off Oahu. Features of the larvae include an elongated second dorsal spine and pelvic fin rays; pronounced head spination; brown pigment spots below the dorsal fin; and red pigment blotches on the body.

Yellow Anthias (Odontanthias fuscipinnis) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Yellow Anthias (Odontanthias fuscipinnis) larvae reared in the laboratory.

O. fuscipinnis larvae were fed copepod nauplii and were surprisingly easy to raise through transformation, despite being kept in a small culture tank (50L) together with multiple other species. The time from hatching through juvenile transformation was about 80 days but it is possible that the larval period could be shortened, if the larvae are cultured in larger, single-species rearing systems. As O. fuscipinnis larvae make their transition to juveniles they rapidly loose the red pigmentations and take on the yellow coloration of the adults. The robust larvae and high value of O. fuscipinnis could make this species an excellent candidate for captive-breeding. This is the first documented larval rearing of an anthias species.

Interesting note
Karen Brittain (Oahu, Hawaii) has been producing limited numbers of O. fuscipinnis for the aquarium trade since 2016.

Bicolor Anthias – Pseudanthias bicolor  (April 2014)

Bicolor Anthias (Pseudanthias bicolor) juveniles were raised from eggs collected in coastal waters off Oahu’s south shore. This species is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific from Mauritius to the Line Islands. It is generally found in harems near ledges and caves at depths of 15 to 200 feet. P. bicolor is one of the largest anthias species available in the aquarium trade and also one of the easiest anthias species to care for.

Adult Bicolor Anthias (Pseudoanthias bicolor) on a reef in Hawaii.
Adult Bicolor Anthias (Pseudoanthias bicolor) on a reef in Hawaii.

P. bicolor eggs are pelagic, spherical and measure about 700 um in diameter. P. bicolor larvae measure 1.6 mm TL at hatching and begin to feed on small Parvocalanus copepod nauplii at 3 dph (3.3 mm TL). Preflexion P. bicolor larvae develop two specializations to pelagic life: intricate head spination and an elongated dorsal spine and pelvic fin rays. The critical flexion period occurs between 15-19 dph (4-5 mm TL). The elongated dorsal spine and pelvic fin rays become very long during the postflexion stage, with the former extending beyond the tail. P. bicolor settlement begins at about 45 dph (18 mm TL). At this time the body develops yellow and orange pigmentation and the extended dorsal spine and pelvic fin rays shorten. P. bicolor juvenile transition is complete by about 60 dph (25 mm TL). Early juveniles have an orange body and orange blotches on the dorsal, pectoral and anal fins. The blotches on the fins disappear as true juvenile coloration gradually fills in.

Bicolor Anthias (Pseudoanthias bicolor) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Bicolor Anthias (Pseudoanthias bicolor) larvae reared in the laboratory.

The P. bicolor larvae were raised entirely on cultured copepods. Newly settled juveniles were fed a combination of cultured adult copepods and newly hatched artemia. P. bicolor larvae are moderately difficult to raise. Overall, their rearing requirements appear similar to Centropyge larvae. This is the first documented larval rearing of a Pseudanthias species.

Interesting note
Tim Morrissey and Andy Hinrichs, working at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska raised several juvenile Stocky Anthias (Pseudanthias hypselosoma) and Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis) in 2015. The team used eggs collected from the Aquarium’s live exhibit and thereby became the first to breed an anthias species from captive-spawned eggs. The fish were raised on the copepod Parvocalanus crassirostris in a Modular Larval Rearing System (MOLARS) –  a system designed by Dr. Andrew Rhyne  (Roger Williams University) specifically for larval fishes.

Redblotch Perchlet – Plectranthias winniensis  (May 2014)

Plectranthias is a genus (comprising 51 recognized species) of small, cryptic hawkfish-like fishes with large mouths. Most species reach a maximum size of just 7.5 cm (3“) and occur at depths below 50 m (160 ft). With the exception of P. garrupellus in the Western Atlantic, the genus is restricted to the Indo-Pacific region.

Redblotch Perchlet (Plectranthias winniensis) juveniles were raised in May 2014 from pelagic eggs collected in coastal waters off Oahu’s east shore. This is a small (5 cm/2 inches) and secretive species that is rarely seen by divers. It occurs in the Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea and East Africa to the Hawaiian, Tuamoto and Pitcairn islands and south to the Great Barrier Reef and the Austral Islands. Adult specimens have been collected in 23-59 m/75-190 feet for scientific purposes. This species is not available through the aquarium trade.

Juvenile Redblotch perchlet (Pletranthias winniensis) reared in the laboratory.
Juvenile Redblotch Perchlet (Pletranthias winniensis) reared in the laboratory.

P. winniensis eggs are spherical, clear and small (0.7 mm diameter), with a single oil droplet. P. winniensis larvae measure about 1.5 mm TL at hatching. They begin to feed three days after hatching (dph) (2.7 mm TL), undergo flexion near 16 dph (4.8 mm TL), and complete juvenile transition by about 80 dph (14 mm TL). Interestingly, P. winniensis larvae look very similar to scorpionfish larvae, developing very large pectoral and pelvic fins (the former lacks parietal spines) during the preflexion stage. P. winniensis larvae also develop intricate head spination, a specialization for pelagic life that is shared among all anthias.

Redblotch Perchlet (Pletranthias winniensis) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Redblotch Perchlet (Pletranthias winniensis) larvae reared in the laboratory.

P. winniensis larvae delay metamorphosis and have a long larval phase, which makes them more difficult to raise than other serranids. The larvae were raised together with Pseudoanthias bicolor larvae using cultured copepods and artemia as live foods. This is the first documented rearing of a Plectranthias species.

Helen’s Perchlet – Plectranthias helenae  (May 2015)

Plectranthias have an interesting temperament and can be visually stunning. They are also reef-safe and very hardy, adapting quickly to aquariums. Avid aquarists thus seek after them, esp for their nano reef tanks. Shallow water Plectranthias species that regularly reach the aquarium trade remain affordable but most deep water species are rarely collected and command prices in excess of $1000.

Helen’s Perchlet (Plectranthias helenae) was reared from a small number eggs collected in waters off Oahu in the spring, 2015.  This species is only known from a handful of collections made in Taiwan, the Hawaiian Islands and Japan at depths between 119-263 m (390-863 feet). It reportedly grows to 10 cm (4”).

Helen’s Perchlet (Plectranthias helenae) juvenile reared in the laboratory.
Helen’s Perchlet (Plectranthias helenae) juvenile reared in the laboratory.

P. helenae eggs are clear, spherical and small (0.75 mm diameter), with a single oil droplet. The larvae measure about 2 mm TL at hatching, begin to feed two days after hatching (dph) (3.1 mm TL), begin flexion near 12 dph (6.8 mm TL), and complete juvenile transition by about 31 dph (15.1 mm TL). Features of P. helenae larvae include a very long pre-dorsal element, long ornamented pelvic fin rays and pronounced head spination. The juveniles were grown out for over 100 dph (31 mm TL).

Helen’s Perchlet (Plectranthias helenae) larvae reared in the laboratory.
Helen’s Perchlet (Plectranthias helenae) larvae reared in the laboratory.

The P. helenae larval phase is significantly shorter than that of P. winniensis (settled near 80 dph), a species previously raised for this project using a similar rearing technique. The larval forms of 27 dph P. winniensis and P. helanae are depicted below. It’s amazing how differently these two cogeneric species have evolved!

P. winniensis larva (top) with its enormous pectoral fins and P. helenae (bottom) with its large pelvic fins and extremely long dorsal fin extension.
P. winniensis larva (top) with its enormous pectoral fins and P. helenae (bottom) with its large pelvic fins and extremely long dorsal fin extension.