Bullisicthys caribbaeus is a remarkably cute fish from the deep waters of the Caribbean that is worth taking a second look. Not often is the word cute used to describe a fish, but the blunt-nosed or pug-nosed basslet is certainly cute, in every definition of the word. The name sake comes from its highly unusual one of a kind facial structure which features an indented concave snout.
The blunt facial structure of this basslet is highly perplexing and unusual indeed, and we’re not sure why exactly this fish has evolved to look like this. B. caribbaeus is a deep water basslet distributed over much of the Atlantic, but is rare in the trade and as far as we know, only available from deep water Caribbean specialists Dynasty Marine. According to Dynasty, the fish can be found at depths up to 3-400 ft, and although deep, are caught using rebreathers instead of the curasub.
The huge eyes and secretive nature of this fish is characteristic for most deep water fish, and likewise, the set up in which it is to be housed in should follow suit. Although we’ve seen this species offered a handful of times, this is the first time we’re actually trying our hands at it. It shares a small set up with a Liopropoma carmabi, and the tank is lit only by a single diode of blue LED.
From what we’ve experienced, this fish is a rather delicate shipper and takes awhile to feel comfortable. A dim tank with plenty of rock work is absolutely paramount to its success, and will be the only thing the fish recognises initially. They are not difficult to feed, and will take frozen meaty foods readily. Their cautious gliding behaviour is cute to watch and it’ll take awhile before the fish is bold enough to venture out. Dither fishes will help tremendously in settling it in.
If you are a fan of basslets, and have a deep-water style set up, then this is the perfect fish for you to try. A Caribbean deep-water biotope is certainly an idea. A smallish tank with a labyrinth of live rocks would make a perfect home for a Caribbean style biotope. Royal gramma (Gramma loreto), Swissguard or Cave basslets (Liopropoma rubre/ L. mowbrayi) and the black capped gramma (Gramma melacara) would be perfect tank mates for your blunt nosed basslet.
For a higher end biotope with rarer tank mates, try Gramma linki, Liopropoma carmabi, Serranus chionaraia or Lipogramma klayi/evides/trilineatum. The blunt-nosed basslet may not be overly rare, but its near exclusivity to Dynasty Marine makes it hard to come by. No matter, if you do manage to chance upon one and have the right housing for it, you may wish to give it a try. The salmon pink silver spangled serranid will be worth the money.