The Ghost Bandit angelfish is a spectacular new variant of Apolemichthys arcuatus that was recently captive bred by Karen Brittain. These striking new fish are part of a recent clutch of the glorious bandit angelfish which, for reasons that have yet to be explained or determined, decided to forgo the development of most or all of their namesake black stripe.
Without its signature black stripe across the body, you could be forgiven for thinking that these fish look more like baby masked angelfish, Genicanthus personatus, which Karen Brittain has also captive bred. However, without a black eye-stripe, the general body shape and that caudal fin edged in black, there’s no doubt that these are indeed bandit angelfish.
As if the bandit angelfish wasn’t illustrious enough on its own, along comes Karen Brittain to show us that this fish can get even more mythical. There’s no question that juvenile bandit angelfish are one of the most striking species of angelfish.
One of the things which makes masked angelfish so unique is that beautiful pearl white coloration which is now also being exhibited by another Hawaiian endemic. Interestingly, we have no records of the bandit angelfish ever being collected in the wild with this color pattern.
These fish are from a single batch that hatched on Dec. 5 2015. They went through metamorphosis between 45 and 55 days old and all looked like regular bandit angels at that point. Then a few lost their black coloring while the rest remained as normal looking bandits.
So in our minds the unusual color aberration of the ghost bandit angelfish must be due to some artifacts of captive breeding, and not genetically derived. Unfortunately, for all her experience captive breeding marine angelfish, raising the bandit angelfish remains a challenge for Karen Brittain and not every clutch is a success.
With the patchy success of raising bandit angelfish, and only a fraction of them developing the stripe-less variation, the Ghost Bandit angelfish is quite possibly one of the rarest marine angelfish in the world and the undisclosed price reflects this rarity. And a virtual round of applause goes to Leighton Lum for creating such wonderful photographs to illustrate this fish in its full glory.