Bodianus bennetti is a new species of colorful hogfish which the aquarium hobby is fully responsible for bringing to the light of day. Bodianus bennetti is closely related to several species in the Trochocopus subgenus of hogfish that are typified by having a pattern of red and white stripes.
This lemon-striped pygmy hogfish was first introduced to the world through the collection of exotic fish from Moorea, French Polynesia, alongside such illustrious species as the Narcosis angelfish and Claire’s fairy wrasse. At first the small red and white hogfish were simply believed to be juvenile specimens of the well known Pacific peppermint hogfish, Bodianus neopercularis.
However after it a short time in captivity these juveniles all replaced their white stripes with yellow ones, becoming an altogether very different fish from the peppermint hogfish we are used to. Another high profile Bodianus, the neon hogfish, is also red with yellow stripes but deep diving collector Rufus Kimura has reported that some specimens are actually red and white striped when young.
This has led some to believe that diet may be responsible for contributing to the color change we observe in captivity. More recently, a large adult specimen of Bodianus bennetti was collected in the Coral Sea, Australia – initially it too was red and white, and a short time in captivity also resulted in a yellow and red hogfish.
The saga of Bodianus bennetti has been well documented in the pages of Reef Builders since its introduction, and while it was provisionally labeled as Bodianus ‘kimura’. Bodianus bennetti is described by Martin Gomon and Fenton Walsh in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.