When it comes to our saltwater aquariums, pretty little reef fish and fancy corals are mostly what catches our fancy. So you can imagine how sensational a predatory reef fish would have to be to qualify as worthy of sharing with you. Today we were stopped in our tracks by not one but two such fish at the Bali Aquarium warehouse, a blood red Rhinopias and a pink and yellow frogfish.
The venomous Rhinopias is a frilly crimson Rhinopias frondosa with a wildly effective camouflage that looks more realistic than natural red algae itself. Once you look past all the frilly appendages, you can see that the skin of this fish is also exquisitely patterned to perfectly blend in with its environment – there’s no way a small fish prey could ever spot this kind of ambush predator.
The frog fish is an Antennarius maculatus with a bright yellow base color which is traversed by coralline colored patches of its own. The perfect patches of faux-coralline algae are as striking as the base color for its wicked wartyness that hides the unique morphology and folded pectoral fins of the bottom walking frogfishes. The best part of this stunning frogfish is the numerous spots in its tail and soft dorsal fin which can darken quickly into eyespots when the frogfish is frightened or excited.
As with all reef fish, and with corals, a balanced full spectrum lighting coloration is the best way to bring out the colors of these otherwise well camouflaged fish. We wouldn’t reccomend the frogfish or Rhinopias for community saltwater tanks as their ambush feeding nature means that they can often be left out of broadcast feeding techniques. Both of these predatory fishes will do better in an environment where they can be given special care, but those willing to put forth the effort will be rewarded with truly unique aquarium animals.