Is This The Nicest Lamarckispilos Hybrid Ever?

by | Jan 22, 2017 | Fish | 1 comment

Lamarckispilos Angelfish from Cebu, Philippines. Credit: hijo-king / Aquarius Divers

The fish seen here was observed in the Philippines near the popular dive resort of Cebu, and it’s surely one of the nicest looking swallowtail angelfish hybrids that’s ever been seen. Most of the time, when two species of Genicanthus get down and dirty together, the resulting offspring is a somewhat muddied and disappointing affair. In many cases, it’s the relatively drab colors of the female that seem to gain dominance; in others, it’s almost as if the ugliest aspects of each parent species are passed on. But, thankfully, this is not the case with the studly black-spotted male seen here.

A similar specimen from the aquarium trade, with a much darker dorsal fin and still showing the female caudal fin pattern. Credit: LiveAquaria

With this having originated from deep within the Coral Triangle, there are only a few potential parent species involved, and we can make a reasonable deduction for who’s responsible here. The vertical orientation of the spots obviously points a finger at the Spotbreast Angelfish (G. melanospilos), which ranges throughout the West Pacific. This leaves either Lamarck’s Angelfish (G. lamarckii) or the Bellus Angelfish (G. bellus) as the other parent. However, there’s relatively little present in this specimen that suggests much in the way of genetic input from either of these fishes. The golden horizontal stripes of G. bellus are entirely lacking, as are the distinctive markings and fin patterning of G. lamarckii.

Another specimen from the aquarium trade. Credit: Blue Harbor

But, helpfully, there have been a handful of specimens showing similar aberrations which have been observed before in the aquarium trade, and these provide us with enough information to fill in the pieces. As with any good hybrid, there can be quite a bit of variability with regard to how the parental traits are expressed, and in a couple of these specimens we find a noticeably black dorsal fin. This strongly suggests that G. lamrackii is the other half in our angelfish equation.

And one more of these in an aquarium, again with a dark dorsal fin. Credit: Advanced Aquatic Ecosystems

It’s great to finally see the full potential that this pairing can produce. Mature males have a lovely disorder to their markings that can be quite visually arresting. There’s a sort of controlled chaos in the black spots that reminds me a touch of the Multivenusta hybrid’s unique look. All of the good angelfish hybrids seem to balance this mix of beauty and mayhem—the sacred and the profane. Now, all that’s left is to coin some ridiculous portmanteau for this interspecies cross… Behold, the Lamarckispilos Angelfish!

  • Joe Rowlett

    Joe is classically trained in the zoological arts and sciences, with a particular focus on the esoterica of invertebrate taxonomy and evolution. He’s written for several aquarium publications and for many years lorded over the marinelife at Chicago’s venerable Old Town Aquarium. He currently studies prairie insect ecology at the Field Museum of Natural History and fish phylogenetics at the University of Chicago.

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