A Possible Cave Basslet X Swissguard Basslet Hybrid

by | Mar 8, 2017 | Fish | 0 comments

The collectors at Dynasty Marine might very well have stumbled upon the first record of hybridization among the deepwater basslets in the genus Liopropoma. The fish seen here combines an interesting mix of traits found in two closely related species from South Florida, the Swissguard Basslet (L. rubre) and the Cave Basslet (L. mowbrayi).

Possible Cave Basslet (Liopropoma mowbrayi) X Swissguard Basslet (Liopropoma rubre) hybrid. Credit: Dynasty Marine

The overall effect is actually surprisingly similar to one of the Indo-Pacific cousins in this group, Collette’s Basslet (L. colletti), which likewise has a number of thin dark stripes running along the body and a reddish tone throughout. In our purported hybrid, we see a muted pink coloration that suggests the presence of L. mowbrayi, alongside the obvious stripes of L. rubre.

Swissguard Basslet (top) & Cave Basslet (bottom). Credit: LiveAquaria

However, it’s always a bit presumptuous to conclude that a single aberrant specimen is inherently a hybrid, as it could well be that this is merely a full-blooded Swissguard Basslet with some unusual mutations. Aside from the somewhat redder than normal colors of this individual, there’s not much else to actually suggest genetic input from L. mowbrayi, such as the yellow nasal stripe or the slight purplish color above the head that we see in that fish.

Credit: Dynasty Marine

Whatever it’s a hybrid or an unusual aberrant, it is certainly one of a kind and sure to be quite the trophy fish for the well-heeled aquarist who acquires it. Now if only we could find some Candy Basslet hybrids…

  • 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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