Sunday, September 21, 2008


A specimen of Liopropoma collettei from the Philippines (at least that is where I think it was collected!).

Holotype of Liopropoma collettei from the Hawaiian Islands.

In past posts we have been looking at some of the different reef basslets (genus Liopropoma). In one of my last posts on the genus a comment was made about L. collettei and how it was more attractive than L. susumi – well what do you think? The specimen above is an individual I recently acquired from Kevin Kohen ( Liopropoma collettei is known from Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands. It has been collected on coral reef at depths of 6 to 34 m among stony corals, like Porites compressa and P. lobata. This species attains a maximum length of 8 cm (individuals from Hawaii are larger than those from other locations).

Randall and Taylor (1988) reported in their revision of the genus that Hawaiian specimens of what they call L. collettei differs from those from the Western Pacific in having 15 or 16 instead of 14 or 15 pectoral rays, no enlarged pore anterior to the posterior nostrils and in the total length (as mentioned above the Hawaiian specimens are larger). They decided to lump the two populations together as the same species based on similarities in body proportions and "especially in color pattern.." But, these researchers had never seen a live specimen from the Western Pacific. While the members of the two populations are similar in overall color, there are some subtle differences, as you can see in the photos included above. For example, in Hawaiian specimens the stripes on the body are dark brown (those on the fish from the Philippines are obviously reddish brown). While the Western Pacific population may not represent a distinct species, it certainly might (DNA analysis will be one way to determine if this is the case.)

I have been keeping one other specimen of L. colletti and have found it to be quite cryptic. In my experiences, the Liopropoma are all secretive, but some (e.g., L. swalesi) are more reclusive than others (e.g., L. carmabi is not as shy). I would say that L. collettei is a more reclusive species, maybe not quite as bad as L. swalesi, but close. My first specimen is in a nano-reef and is rarely seen. The only time I observe it is when it moves from one interstice to another or I occasionally see it peering out from under a ledge when only the actinics are on. If you invest in one of these beauties, do not expect it to parade back and forth along the front of the tank. That is why I recommend the members of this genus for nano-reef aquariums - if you contain them in a smaller area, you will be able to observe them with greater ease.


Randall, J. E. and L. Taylor. 1988. Review of the Indo-Pacific fishes of the Serranid genus Liopropoma with descriptions of seven new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 16, 47 pp.

© Scott W. Michael

1 comment:

Jake Adams said...

I absolutely love the Liopropoma posts. I have a great picture of a colletei which actually shows a lot of pink and red.