Raccoon butterflyfish are one of the commonest species of Chaetodon in aquariums, while Panda butterflfyfish, Chaetodon adiergastos are very seldom kept in captive aquariums. You can gather how exciting then, it was to discover this stunning cross of raccoon and panda butterflyfish. This one of a kind panda-coon butterflyfish was collected by RVS Fishworld in the Philippines and it is already destined for a home in the United States.
The fins of this hybrid clearly show the patterning of the raccoon butterflyfish, the bottom part of the body and head are really similar to the panda butterflyfish but the most stunning feature of this particular cross is the stark black eye stripe which really pops against the for-now flat white coloration surrounding it.
Like so many crosses of butterflyfish such as the tinkers x fourspot, wrought iron x gunther’s, and tinker’s x miliaris, the hybrids look muddied when small yet develop much more pronounced features as adults. In some cases the hybrid butterflyfish offspring display distinct features of both parents but look like a totally singular specimen when they grow up. Someone needs to tell the butterflyfish to get their spawning schedules in order because there is no reason for so many crosses of so many Chaetodon species to be hybridizing all over the place – that is unless hybridization is one of the mechanisms for speciation but that’s a whole other topic all together.
For more examples of Chaetodon hybrids check out the Chaetodon argentatus x C. xanthurus cross, the Chaetodon xanthurus x C. guentheri cross, the Chaetodon miliaris x. C multicinctus cross and one of our all-time favorites, the Chaetodon lunula x C. wiebeli cross. Although it seems like butterflyfish hybrids occur often, all these examples are unique crosses, involving some of the usual suspect purebred species but who knows what hybrid butterflyfish hybrid we’ll see pop up next.