At the close of each year we religiously run through the stories of months past and gather up our favourites, condensing some of the best stories from various categories for a year in review. Although it is pretty standard to put out a list of our ten favourite reef fish, it is not every year that we come across something worthy to be crowned fish of the year. The last species to take this title went to Rainfordia opercularis in 2011. It has been three years since, and this year we reinstate the title and crown Liopropoma fasciatum as 2014’s fish of the year.
We’ve seen a heck load of incredible species showing up throughout the months of 2014, but none made a more meteoric and shocking appearance than the ostentatious Rainbow Basslet. Snatching the title by the skin of its teeth at the year end mark, Liopropoma fasciatum appeared without warning when Sea Dwelling Creatures first announced it on their Facebook page.
The nagging feeling of familiarity dawns upon us at first glance, as the fish takes on a superficial resemblance to the more ubiquitous Liopropoma eukrines. However unlike the wrasse bass, L. fasciatum is more heavily striped and more gaudily coloured.
Unlike the smaller, more reclusive members of the genus such as L. carmabi, L. susumi and the likes, L. fasciatum is large and more predatory by nature. They can grow to sizes up to six inches and are occasionally caught on the hook. As such they are generally bolder, more brazen and are able to hold their own in a community tank. Unlike the shyer and secretive dwarf species, we’ve observed our L. fasciatum gaping its mouth in a defensive stance against other fish imposing upon its turf.
Like many other large Liopropoma, they are less shy compared to their diminutive cousins and can be more easily observed cruising the tank they live in. However they never stray far away from the security of the rock work, and this is a trait seen in the genus as a whole, regardless of size and species.
Within a week of announcement, a specimen made its way to Jake Adams of ReefBuilders, and one to me in Singapore. We both agree that this species’ incredible beauty as well as its unexpected debut appearance in the industry warrants its title of fish of the year. There are few species that can rival the retina burning mangosteen hue coupled with various intensities of yellow, wine red and all other shades in-between.
But as always, to each his own. We’ve had a few suggestions that the cobalt Koran angelfish should be awarded the title. Prior to the emergence of this fish we were quite close to crowning the title to Macropharyngodon vivienae ourselves! Which fish of 2014 was your favourite? And which one of those do you think should take the title instead? Let us know in the comments below, and join us as we look forward to what 2015 has installed for us!