The black spot pygmy angelfish may not carry with it the same mythology as the recently collected peppermint angelfish, but it is arguably much more rare. Only the third specimen of Centropyge nigriocella collected alive for the aquarium trade, the new specimen from Vanuatu is only the second one collected there.
The 45mm (1.7 inch) black spot pygmy angelfish is selling at the similar price as its predecessors, a cool 1.6 million Yen, or a little more than $16,000 in cold hard cash. Japan’s Marine Gift is currently offering the elusive angelfish and they’ve documented a peacefully swimming little guy who seems to be in good condition and already beginning to eat aquarium fare.
The reason for many other species of angelfish being so expensive is the difficulty in accessing the fish, usually from being really isolated in distribution, living very deep, or both. But the black spot pygmy angelfish is different because it lives in really shallow water but is so cryptic, actually seeing one, let alone catching one, is purely the luck of the draw.
However, since this is the second Vannuatu Centropyge nigriocella collected in about two years, perhaps the local reef fish collectors are keeping an eye out, and odds of seeing the species may be on the rise. Time will tell whether this trend of yearly black spot angelfish will pan out or not, but whoever ends up with this one will be in a very elite club of rare fish owners.