First of all can we get a chest bump peace sign for pencil wrasses? Apart from Cirrhilabrus, Pseudojuloides has got to be one of my all-time favorite genera of labrids. Sleek, svelte, elegant, the pencil wrasses are the perfect package of sexy all rolled up into a slender space saving fish. It kills me that these fish don’t get nearly as enough attention as they should, and yes, although they are touchy, it has been proven that careful handling and acclimation from collector to consumer can dramatically improve success with this genus.
RVS fishworld has managed to pique my interest mid-teeth brushing with their facebook post featuring not one, not two, but who knows how many Pseudojuloides mesostigma that they have just collected. We’ll try to keep this post curt and straight to the point, but you can bet your bottom dubloon that a follow up post featuring this species in greater detail will soon entail. I can’t resist a lengthy nerdy article riddled with fish jargon on one of my all-time favorite species.
Of the nine species of Pseudojuloides available to the trade, (cerasinus, xanthomos, polackorum, kaleidos, severnsi, edwardi, atavai, zeus and mesostigma) P. mesostigma is one of the rarest and least encountered. Despite having a large range across the Pacific in areas such as Philippines, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Coral Sea, Tonga and Vanuatu, P. mesostigma is exceedingly rare in the trade. Their preference for deeper waters in depths exceeding 40m (130 ft) may be the reason why this fish isn’t encountered more frequently.
Pseudojuloides mesostigma is readily identified by its uniform jade body, superimposed in a cryptic scrawling of turquoise to emerald dorsally. The dorsal fin is decorated with a large black blotch which travels downwards and continues halfway down the body. This very slender species is allopatric to the very closely related Pseudojuloides zeus, which ranges predominantly in the Marshall Islands and Palau region of the Pacific. The females adopt the typical color scheme for this group, and are uniformly peach-orange.
We’re not sure why or how RVS has managed to procure so many males of this elusive species, but they must have stumbled upon a patch where the species is common down in the reefs of Philippines. It’s not likely that these will end up as a staple offering, being at most “seasonally common” or sporadic, so if you’re a wrasse nut worthy of his salt, you’d best be making haste and getting yourself one of these.