The maze angelfish, Chaetodontoplus cephalareticulatus, is one of the elusive species of large marine angels that we’ve been particularly obsessed with for quite sometime. To make up for practically never seeing any specimens in the country, we’ve frequently shared amazing pictures of large adult maze angelfish from around the world, time and time again. We carried this infatuation for the maze angelfish with us to our meetings with Mr. Su at Bali Aquarich this past summer.
During our visit we saw Mr. Su’s gorgeous pair of Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus and he showed us some day old larvae from eggs which he’d just begun collecting, but couldn’t get through development for very long. When we saw him working with the Conspicuous angelfish, and failing to pull through any larvae, it occurred to us he might experience successes with another species first. We encouraged Mr. Su to consider working with the maze angelfish which is hypothetically easier since the closely related blueline angelfish had been reared in captivity before.
Mr. Su didn’t seem that familiar with the maze angelfish, so we pulled out some fish books, looked up a few Reef Builders posts, planted the seed and really thought nothing more of it. That is, until less than a month later when Mr. Su posted a status update that he was in Taiwan (where maze angelfish come from) with a picture of some fabulous potential maze angelfish broodstock.
The next thing we know, Bali Aquarich started posting pictures of tank raised tiny juvenile maze angelfish which he’d just begun pulling out of the larval development into little slivers of fish beginning to look like angelfish. Part of us was really surprised that Bali Aquarich had blazed a trail from inception to tank raised juveniles in a matter of months, but we really aren’t that shocked when the progress is coming from the same facility that brought us captive raised annularis angelfish and captive raised clarion angelfish.
Unsurprisingly, Quality Marine is the livestock dealer entrusted to handle these little treasures, the first captive raised maze angelfish. It is our understanding that only ten maze angelfish were produced by Bali Aquarich, all but two of which have already been absorbed by the global aquarium market for exotic aquarium fish.
The Maze Angelfish is such a perfect target species to captive raise because wild Chaetodontoplus angelfish are so fickle in captivity; even when an adult or juvenile takes well to aquarium life they are the first to succumb to Murphy’s Law when things go wrong in an aquarium and they can also just stop eating for no apparent reason. Not so much with aquarium specimens grown from a small size, but these are the exception and juvenile maze angelfish are almost unheard of in aquaria.
So now the story of the captive raised maze angelfish comes full circle with the first two offspring being offered by Quality Marine. LiveAquaria will most likely partake in the exotic fish availability, as they do with almost everything, but these fish are going to be pricey; if you have to ask how much it is you won’t be able to afford it.
The supposed stratospheric price is understandable since the supply of these first ever captive raised maze angelfish is incredibly limited and there’s only two US specimens to go around. Unlike the captive raised Clarion angelfish of which a couple dozen wild juvenile counterparts are periodically available, aquarium suitable specimens of maze angelfish are not readily available, in Taiwan maybe but not in the U.S.