For the longest time the flathead perch, Rainfordia opercularis, existed firmly in the realm of “book fish”, a species that we know exists but which we believed we’d never see outside the pages of a book. Then in 2011 came a regular trickle of this startling and unique reef fish from Australia. All of the Rainfordia imported could be classified as large, with most of the flat head perches coming in between five and seven inches long, with a mouth big enough to put down some serious shrimp.
All of these larger and more predatory Rainfordia barely classified as ‘reef fish’, although they are technically ‘reef safe’, they could put some serious hurting on traditionally sized reef denizens like grammas, gobies and any manner of small fish. Recently however, Blue Harbor, the famous Japanese powerhouse of the rarest reef fish acquired the cutest, smallest little Rainfordia we have ever seen in pictures or otherwise.
Other than the fact that the baby Rainfordia is already sold, details are scant on the origins of this little baby flathead perch. It appears to be not a hair over two inches long (~5cm) and it has a subduded more brownish color pattern with only two small stripes being present on the flanks. What is readily visible is that iconic tailspot (ocelli) which exists to fool predators about which side of the fish to aim for.
The most exciting part of the existence of the juvenile Rainfordia is that perhaps these will eventually be found in greater numbers, hopefully leading to an eventual price drop that could make this species a wee bit more ‘common’ in the aquarium trade, maybe even to the point of breeders affording to pair them up! You know where we’re going with this, thanks to Koji Wada of Blue Harbor and Kevin Kohen of LiveAquaria for sharing their pictures with us.