A captive fivestripe hogfish smiles for the camera - actually, he is attacking his reflection in the aquarium glass! Photo by Scott W. Michael.
How about a cool hogfish – more exactly the fivestripe hogfish (Bodianus paraleucosticticus). It was recently described in a revision of the genus based on research done by Dr. Martin Gomon. This hogfish is a member of a group that includes a number of species which Gomon (2006) places in the subgenus Peneverreo. This includes three other species that tend to occur in deep water (usually depths of around 50 m or more) and have very scattered geographic distributions. The species in this subgenus all have narrow red or orange stripes along the body with a back spot on the base of the pectoral fin in juveniles and initial phase individuals.
It is a little known species that has been reported from Papua New Guinea, Bali, Palau, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands. It no doubt has a wider distribution than this, as it is a deepwater species that is just not captured or seen very often. Gomon (2006) reports that it occurs at depths of about 45 to at least 100 m (probably much deeper than this) on reef walls with numerous caves and ledges.
Very few of these fish have been imported for the aquarium trade. I have kept a single specimen which proved to be fairly hardy. It was quite frenetic when first added to the tank, dashing back and forth until it was so worn out it would stop, lay on its side for several minutes, and pant! It was not too aggressive and quickly learned to feed on frozen mysid shrimp. It was quite shy for some time, retreating to a cave or behind the rock work when there was activity near the tank. But after a while, it became more brazen. This B. paraleucosticticus would also display at and attack its reflection in the aquarium glass.
I would not add it to a tank with potential aggressors, like larger hogfish, other large wrasses, big damsels, or pugnacious triggerfishes. If my specimen was indicative of the species, they may hide constantly if they are picked on. Because it occurs at greater depths, it may prefer cooler water temperatures. I would suggest an optimal temperature range of 72 to 78 º Fahrenheit. So, where do you get one? I was sent the specimen I kept from Kevin Kohen at www. liveaquaria.com (see link to the right) – that is only place I have seen this available.
Copyright (2008) Scott W. Michael