As the metonymic dust begins to settle after our whirlwind tour of Japan, it becomes increasingly clear that this country is without a doubt, the capital mecca for rare fish and all things associated. With lolita inspired fashion and crazy pop cultural references that run rampant amidst the normalcy, Japan offers a safe haven to “get yo freak on” in whatever fantasy you wish to indulge in. For me, it means I get to put on my fish nerd cape and pose with pride as it flaps in the preverbal wind.
With the help of rare fish sensei Koji Wada of BlueHarbor, we tracked down nearly every single fish that has ever graced the covers of magazines, calendars, tabloids and the like. To put it simply, we were but mere paparazzi in the quest for celebrity photo ops at a gala premiere. Now that that is over, we’ll start the drip feed of fish stories one at a time. Spanning Osaka to Tokyo and everywhere in-between, you’ll definitely want to follow this series.
Recently we released brand new, updated photos of the original icon Peppermint Angelfish that withstood the test of time. A stone’s throw away from Nagoya, our next pitstop saw us knocking on the doors of Mr. Ryusuke Fukuchi in Nishio, Aichi.
This species has been blogged to death quite extensively in the past, so it would seem superfluous to repeat the industrial and environmental secrecy that plagues this fish. Its nebulous and enigmatic presence, like a tangible slap in the face, is felt painfully on the skin of any angelfish collector worth his salt. This is none other than the illustrious Centropyge debelius.
C. debelius is a Mauritian gem that redefines the term “rarity”. While some species are straight up unobtainable due to sheer inaccessibility in environmental or legislated restrictions, C. debelius is not. Although it lives in easily accessible Mauritius (with more than enough fish collectors), its deepwater and scattered distribution amalgamates to form a painful irony, enabling it to exude allure and interest with its frustratingly taciturn behaviour.
While a small number is collected every few years, the supply of this species will never meet the demands of thirsty angelfish lovers. Mr. Fukuchi’s specimen, however, is not a new player. This particular angelfish has been alive in his collection for over a decade. It might seem repetitive, but like the people of Japan, it appears that their pet fish too get to enjoy the benefits of longevity.
It lives alone with two other fish in a deepwater style NPS tank. They are Odontanthias fuscipinnis, and a Plectranthias altipinnatus that redefines the meaning of “shy”. So while having seen this species in person before, seeing one that’s so old and historic really adds a new level of appreciation for the species.
The Peppermint and Debelius Angelfish of Nagoya and Nishio are just the tip of this piscine iceberg. In Japan, your definition of rare doesn’t even come close, and in the following days, we’ll be releasing a string of articles cementing the country of Nippon as the unrivalled pantheon of exotic reef fish. The gods are watching. It’s time to up your game.