Plectranthias garrupellus also known as the Apricot Bass is a pretty wonderful little reef fish that came to only recently came to life with pictures of living specimens. For being a member of the popular Plectranthias genus of aquarium fish it’s a surprise that the Apricot Bass was virtually unknown in the hobby considering that it lives on deep reefs from North Carolina to the Dutch Antilles of the southern Caribbean. Over the past year and a half the Curasub has been diving deep in Curacao and previously collecting fish which aquarists could only dream of: The Bladefin Basslet Jeboelkhia gladifer, The Golden Liopropoma aberrans, a steady flow of Lipogramma, the previously unknown sabre goby but now it’s time for the Apricot Bass to get a turn in the spotlight.
Growing to a maximum size of 10cm (~4 inches) the Apricot Basslet lives at depths between 100 and 375 meters but is most often seen in the southern Caribbean by Curasub around 200 meters. The specimen pictured on top by Barry Brown of Coral Reef Photos was collected at 350 feet and this is the first specimen that has captured our imagination about this species’ potential.
In this tantalizing photograph Plectranthias garrupellus is showing a color palette of red, orange white and yellow which reminds us of the highly sought after Plectranthias pelicieri. The recently released Greater Caribbean Fishes also shows a couple novel examples of the Apricot Bass showing a bold pattern in the adult. Another specimen of P. garrupellus pictured by Koji Wada and actually one of the first ones collecrted by Curasub shows the muted juvenile coloration of the Apricot Bass which hardly betrays the vibrant adult coloration it is hiding.
It’s a shame that the Apricot Bass lives so deep and right off of US shores, so close but yet so far away. With individual Plectranthias garrupellus being caught one at a time by the Curasub, and only a couple that we know of, the price of this species is still extremely high. Being such a small fish and since the standard-issue Plectranthias inermis is a really popular fish, we can only hope that the Curasub will become increasingly successful with collecting the Apricot Bass so that a pair can come within reach of the next Gardner or Wittenrich master fish breeder.