Terelabrus dewapyle is a new species of deepwater wrasse described from specimens collected in the western Pacific ocean. The newly minted species is only the second species of ‘candy cane hogfish’ joining the ever popular Terelabrus rubrovitattus and finally adds some diversity to the formerly monotypic genus.
Like its congener, the specimens of Terelabrus dewapyle were all collected in deeper reef waters between 72 to 92 meters (236 to 300 feet) around Japan, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, giving this new species quite the extensive natural distribution. There have been a variety of slightly different forms of Terelabrus fish popping up in the aquarium trade for a number of years now, but Terelabrus dewapyle is the first fish to be deemed sufficiently different enough to warrant elevation to its own species level.
What separates Terelabrus dewapyle from T. rubrovittatus is a vivid yellow band above the middle red stripe which is white in the ‘first’ species of Terelabrus. The other feature that most prominently distinguishes Terelabrus dewapyle is the presence of a black blotch on the gill plate which is easy to spot on juveniles but fades somewhat with size and maturity.
It’s important to note that there is not a tried and true demarcation for what constitutes a ‘true’ species, but nevertheless we aquarists have recognized the uniqueness of certain specimens of Candy Cane hogfish based on distinct color and patterns. Several years ago Tony Vargas enjoyed a particularly healthy specimen of the ‘yellow stripe’ candy cane hogfish which we were able to thoroughly observe and document.
The yellow stripe candy cane hogfish has been well documented by both divers and rare reef fish aquarium enthusiasts so we already know that this species makes a fine aquarium fish once it settles in to captivity and prepared foods. But Terelabrus dewapyle is probably not the last undescribed species of Terelabrus left in the sea, as another especially white bodied candy cane hogfish is also known from Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
We love it when new species descriptions bring totally unknown reef fish to our attention, but it’s also nice when they shed new light on fish which we’ve already been enjoying in the marine aquarium hobby. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another two decades until the next species of Terelabrus is described, but in the meantime, enjoy the video of Tony’s yellow stripe candy cane hogfish.
Terelabrus dewapyle is described by Fukui & Motomura in the latest edition of ZooTaxa.