Rainfordia opercularis is a fish so rare that aside from the stud in these pictures, we literally have only been able to track down just one other confirmed specimen that has come to the U.S. Closely related to fish of the Liopropoma genus such as the Candy Basslet, the Wrasse Bass and the Swalesi basslet, the flathead perch is similar in appearance and color pattern yet it sports some unique traits of it’s own. The very forward placement of the eyes, the flat head and wide mouth make this basslet deserving of it’s own genus, Rainforfia. So why is this fish so rare? Aside from it’s cryptic behavior and tendency to stay close to the reef structure this fish is also more abundant at depth but the main factor that has precluded better availability of this species for the aquarium trade is that it is endemic to Eastern Australia. Although many aquarium fish are collected from Australia, the flathead perch has a distribution that centers around Eastern Australia, more specifically southern Queensland to northern New South Wales. Rainfordia opercularis is reported to reach up to 6″/15cm in length at which size they appear blue with yellow stripes yet juveniles are reported to be more colorful and orange in appearance. There is a very interesting back-story as to how this single specimen made it’s way to the Steinhart Aquarium but we’ll save that for when we can update with more pictures/video of this guy. Big thanks to Reef Fishes author Scott Michael for letting us mine his knowledge for information about this almost unknown rare fish species.
Search More: basslet • flathead perch • liopropoma • rainfordia • rainfordia opercularis • rare fish • reef fish