Dartfish hold a very special place in our reefing hearts, and none more so than the magnificent firefish. We absolutely adore the Nemateleotris firefish species, so we definitely perked up when we came across this incredibly rare firefish hybrid.
The regular and purple firefish are well documented from Japanese waters, but although helfrich’s firefish has been sighted there, it is definitely on the edge of its range distribution. It’s no surprise then that this wild helfrich’s firefish hybrid was sighted in Japan, at Okinoerabu-jima, in the extreme south of the Japanese Islands, and photographed by Kazutoshi Uehara of GT Divers.
The common firefish has a pale front part of the body with a darker red tail, while the Helfrich’s firefish has a dark lavender front body and pale colored tail. Interestingly, the dark coloration of these two species was cancelled out by the pale colors, resulting in a ghostly looking hybrid of N. magnifica and N. helfrichi.
The resulting offspring is a ghostly looking fish with just a hint of yellow coloration in the dorsal, anal and tail fin. One other nice touch is how the straight fin of the common firefish and the stubby fin of the helfrich’s have combined into a ‘stairstep’ pattern.
Firefish are incredibly conservative in appearance across their ranges, and we’ve documented firefish x purple firefish hybrids in the past. But these images represent the first confirmed sightings of hybrid firefish involving helfrich’s firefish, N. helfrichi, now we have to wonder what a helfrich’s x purple firefish hybrid might look like. [GT Divers]