Friday, May 9, 2008


Anthias are some of the most spectacular fishes on the reef. They are also some of the most highly sought after by aquarists. Because of their zooplankton-feeding habits, they are welcome additions to the reef aquarium (i.e., they will not bother ornamental inverts). When my book REEF FISHES VOLUME 1 was published back in 1998, I included a photo of an amazing anthias from Japan called Holanthias (Odontanthias) borbonius, known commonly as the blotchy deep anthias. (Kuiter reserves the genus Odontanthias for the Pacific species and believes that Holanthias is limited to the Atlantic.) This is a deepwater species, most often found at depths in excess of 60 m. It is well known to divers that explore the deep reefs off of the Izu Islands, Japan, but it has recently been found and collected on deep reef walls off of Bali and adjacent islands, where it apparently occurs in caves. Collecting them is very dangerous - in fact, fish collectors have died in their quest to capture these deepwater beauties.

I received three of these wonderful fishes from fellow fish-lover Kevin Kohen (of (you will see Kevin’s name mentioned frequently in this blog as he has consistently provided me with great fish). Kevin had three H. borbonius in his reef tank, which I was able to see a year ago. When a sudden glut of these fish appeared at Liveaquaria, Kevin sent me a trio of young H. borbonius. He selected smaller individuals because he found that as they grow, they become less social, with the larger member of the clan regularly harassing smaller conspecifics. While my Holanthias were small, there was one individual that was about ¼ a body length longer. It did not take long until this larger Holanthias began harrying its two slightly smaller kin. Now, the two subordinate fish hide most of the time. In fact all three fish are fairly shy, hiding in holes in the roof of a cave I created in my tank. But, when the smaller fish appear at feeding time, the large anthias chastises them. Because of this, I would recommend you keep a single individual, as sooner or later this fish will probably quarrel (of course, if you have a huge tank they may be able to avoid one another). Also, make sure you have plenty of suitable refuges so they will more readily acclimate.

Copyright (2008) Scott W. Michael

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