Centropyge abei is an angelfish species so rare, that only a few specimens have ever been photographed. Pictures of this deep water pygmy angelfish are very few, and only a few fish have ever been photographed, period.
Since there has only been one live Centropyge abei on display for more than a decade at the Waikiki Aquarium, most images of this species alive in an aquarium are of this specimen living in Hawaii. So it is with great pleasure that we get to relish this new spread of pictures of Centropyge abei, an Australian specimen that recently made its way to Blue Harbor in Japan.
This excellent close up look at the Centropyge abei from the Coral Sea was made possible by Kengo Zeze, showing the unique appearance of this angelfish from many valuable angles. In stark contrast to the large mature specimen at Waikiki, this Centropyge abei is much smaller and still retains the vestiges of juvenile coloration.
This little guy hasn’t yet strongly developed its white head stripe and the black mask of the face still has some room to fill in and darken up. Interestingly, this small Centropyge abei still seems to have the last little bits of a white tail stripe, almost like the reverse coloration of a juvenile bandit angelfish.
Interestingly, from this point of view we find a lot of similarity between this Abei angelfish and the pair of Collin’s Angelfish that we featured earlier this summer. Both the coloration and the morphology of this fish reminds us of Centropyge colini, and perhaps the resemblance is due to a close relationship between this two species of pygmy angelfish.
If you look just at the outline or silhouette of C. abei, it bears a close resemblance to Centropyge colini, especially the high flat dorsal fin which is much shorter and arched in most other pygmy angelfish. Also, both the Abei and Colin’s angelfish have a small face with large eyes placed far forward on the face – C. colini prefers living in dark caves and C. abei lives deep so perhaps this is a convergent adaptation to their dim environments.
Also, if you take away the white stripes of the Abei angelfish, then it’s basically an olive-yellow pygmy angelfish with a black patch on its back. Compare that to Colin’s angelfish which is an olive yellow fish with a blue patch on its back, and the similarities between these two fish start adding up.
But enough about comparing this Abei angelfish to any other, because at the end of the day there is no other angelfish quite like C. abei. This is the deepest living known species of pygmy angelfish and this newly collected specimen is the first new individual to be photographed in about a decade.
Thankfully we’ve already got confirmation from Blue Harbor that this small fish is already well acclimated to his aquarium life, and eating a variety of aquarium foods with gusto. This is a great early sign that the Abei angelfish will do well in his future aquarium home, and will hopefully lead to more documentation of this little guy for many years into the future.