Just when we think we’ve seen it all when it comes to pygmy angelfish hybrids, along comes not one but a pair of unusual coral beauty angelfish which make us rethink this whole concept of hybridization. Classically, what we are taught is that hybrids of “true” species are sterile, like a mule. However we’ve been sent an incredible set of images taken by frequent Reef Builders contributor Jimmy Ma of some incredible fish.
Collected from Cebu is what appears to be a cross between a coral beauty angelfish, Centropyge bispinosa, and the ‘Rusty Flame‘ angelfish, itself a hybrid cross of a rusty and a flame angelfish, C. ferrugatus and C. loricula. The result of this interesting three-way hybrid is a unique looking fish which more or less resembles a mango angelfish with a magnificent contrasting blue fins and a blue topped body.
What is particularly fascinating about this three way hybrid, let’s just call is the rusty-flame-beauty, is that over a short period of time two specimens of different sizes were collected from Cebu, Philippines. The differing sizes yet consistent pattern of these two rusty flame beauties indicates that somewhere there’s coral beauties getting it on with the widespread rusty flame angelfish hybrid, at least more than once.
There’s been increased ornamental fish collection in the northern parts of Philippines like Cebu in recent years so perhaps as the rusty flame angelfish became relatively available, so too may the rusty flame beauty angelfish eventually come within reach of aquarists.