This is the first time we’re featuring an aberrant fish for Awesome Fish Spotlight, and today’s featured fish is a hypomelanistic flame angel. Unlike many of the funky koi mutations which often manifest as unusual and unknown transient colour changes, hypomelanism is a known genetic condition where melanin is only partially lacking in sufferers.
A fully albino or amelanistic animal is genetically unable to produce the black pigment melanin. Hypomelanistic individuals partially lack this trait, and in the case of Centropyge loricula, often retain trace amounts of it in within the eyes and some of its stripes. The rest of the black stripes are uncoloured and take on the same ground colour as the rest of the body. This particular aberration in C. loricula is called colloquially in the aquatics industry as a “Solar Flare” flame angelfish.
Since the fish is only unable to produce melanin, all other colours are genetically programmes to be expressed correctly and the fish still retains the usual red, orange, yellow and blue. The condition is not reversible and therefore this aberration is permanent, and the fish will never return to looking like a regular flame angelfish with wild type coloration.
There has been a long line of custodians for this particular individual. It was first and originally acquired and cared for by LiveAquaria’s Kevin Kohen, before being passed on to Chad Vossen. Currently the fish has left Chad’s care and is under the supervision of professor Todd Gardner, where it is paired up with a regular looking partner in hopes of spawning.