Recently, some light has been shed on a new species of Bodianus that has gotten everyone worked up. Some light has been shed, but not nearly enough, and we’re still scratching our heads at this Bodianus conundrum. The new species, dubbed Bodianus “kimura”, has a stunning highlighter orange and red adult form. However, it is the juvenile stages that have us tangled in this un-unravelable web of confusion. Keep reading to find out why.
Update 10/19/2016: This species has just been described as Bodianus bennetti.
In August 2012, we visited BlueHarbor for the first time, and on that day, we witnessed the first ever adult Bodianus “kimura” caught for the trade. It was in the earlier shipments of Centropyge narcosis and Cirrhilabrus claire, that we caught whiff of this other deepwater treasure. Dubbed B. “kimura” after Rufus Kimura, this highlighter yellow and orange hogfish drew resemblance to B. sanguineus, but was distinctive enough to question its true genetic identity to the affiliate.
On that same day after we visited BlueHarbor, Koji took us to his customer’s house, a doctor, who has an incomprehensible collection of deepwater fish. We shared with you our account and his collection in the second part of our BlueHarbor travelogue. In one of his smaller set ups, we saw and photographed a juvenile red and white striped juvenile Bodianus. Cool, a juvenile B. neopercularis. We thought nothing much of it. That little juvenile was caught along B. “kimura”, C. narcosis and C. claire. It’s distinctive coloration however, led us to believe it was just a juvenile neopercularis hogfish.
Fast forward a year later, and that same red white hogfish has grown up. Now it is a matured adult, but what it has grown into was something we could never prepare ourselves for. It was a juvenile of Bodianus “kimura”. If you were wondering why the featured image highlighting this post shows two different Bodianus, now you have you answer. They are both the same juvenile above that we saw more than a year ago at Koji’s customer’s place. Digiman recently visited Osaka (for which we will release a separate post) and saw the exact same hogfish living in the same tank, except this time it was coloured orange and red – the colors of B. “kimura”. The same juvenile now adult can be seen in the video above, at the 5.15 mark.
But wait. Remember Digiman’s juvenile Bodianus “kimura” that was coloured the same highlighter yellow as the adult but lacking the red stripes? That juvenile has since grown up and has revealed its true adult identity. And less shockingly, it too is B. “kimura”. So now the burning question is, are there two juvenile forms? A red/white striped form and a highlighter yellow form?
Is there more going on that we do not know about, or is it simply just a colour variant of the juveniles. We as hobbyist often only pick up clues and information we get from observation and sharing from various other reefers. We are not scientists and often times, our knowledge and information sharing stops just out of reach. We hope that more information will be revealed with the eventual description of this new Bodianus, and the mysterious identity of the juveniles can be straightened out.
Till then, what do you think is going on here. Why are two completely different looking juveniles growing up to look like the same fish? Let us know what you think in the comment box, and if you have any new information regarding this species, holla our way as well.
Latest* Rufus Kimura has weighed in on the matter with these Bodianus, and here is what he has to say.
“on our last trip we spotted a trio of these bodianus at about 475′. They were fully grown adults (about 7 inches) and all three were of the red and white coloration. We collected one of them which a few weeks later changed color to orange and yellow. I believe their coloration is possibly due to certain foods that they are eating. In Hawaii, there are a few places where we are able to collect B. sanguines that has a white lateral stripe instead of the more common neon yellow stripe. This white stripe will change to yellow after a few weeks in captivity.”
So does this means that the yellow southern pacific unidentified Bodianus may infact just be a confusing colour variant of the very similar B. neopercularis? What’s unusual is that in aquariums, these fish turn yellow and away from their normal coloration, whereas most fishes do it vice versa. For now it’s all just a guessing game, but with every new bit of information coming together, we will get a bigger clearer picture. We still hope it turns out to be a valid distinct species, but with this colour changing phenomena being seen in both juveniles and adult, it may just turn out to be a variation afterall.