Uploaded by Roser Gari Perez on 2016-09-21.
As it turns out, N. subteres is identical to a fish that divers have been photographing across the Coral Triangle for years. It has been referred to variously as the Ocellated Frogfish or the Lembeh Frogfish, after the famed Lembeh Straits, where the species is particularly abundant. Some referred to this as an undescribed species, while others tried to pigeonhole it into an already existing taxon, like A. biocellatus, A. nummifer, A. dorehensis or A. rosaceus, but, as it turns out, Nudiantennarius was the correct name all along. The available genetic data points towards this species being a close relative to the cosmopolitan Sargassumfish (Histrio histrio), which, like Nudiantennarius, is the only member of its genus. Both share similarities in the proportions of their dorsal fin spines, as well as having relatively smooth skin and, additionally, the arm-like lobe of the pelvic fins being somewhat detached from the rest of the body. But, while the Sargassumfish tops out at around 20cm, specimens of N. subteres range from 30-64mm. This is apparently indicative of this species’ mature size, as mated pairs have been photographed. Coloration can vary dramatically, though darker shades seem most common, followed by reds, yellows and even white. The dramatic dorsal ocellus is likewise variable, and additional ocelli can sometimes be found, while some individuals might not have any at all. Really, the best way to ID this one is to note the small size, the smooth skin and the fairly lengthy first dorsal fin spine. To date, records exist from a variety of popular dive resorts in the Philippines and Indonesia, always from open, sandy habitats (“much dives”). And, while this fish was initially known only from deeper areas, most records are now coming from fairly shallow depths (3-18 meters). Given its broad occurrence in this region, aquarium specimens are likely to trickle in semi-regularly, even if this isn’t a species that’s likely to be directly targeted by collectors. So keep an eye out the next time you spot a strange little frogfish, as it could very well be the elusive Nudiantennarius.
- Pietsch, T.W. and Arnold, R.J. (2017) The “Lembeh Frogfish” Identified: Redescription of Nudiantennarius subteres (Smith and Radcliffe, in Radcliffe, 1912) (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae). Copeia 105(4):659-665. https://doi.org/10.1643/CI-17-651