Altrichthys alelia is a newly described species of damselfish from the Philippines with a curious behavior that is more like freshwater fish than one living on a reef. You could be forgiven for mistaking Alelia’s damselfish for a weird-shaped green chromis but this is one new species that joins a small group of damsels that actually care for their young after the eggs are laid.
Only two other species of Altrichthys and one species of Acanthochromis are known to offer parental care of the young, herding them in tight groups much as cichlids do in the wild. This is less surprising considering that damselfish and clownfish are closely related to cichlids, and that all species do protect their nest of eggs after they are laid. Therefore caring for the wrigglers a little longer is just a natural extension of what seems like a natural parental instinct for many fish.
The newly described Altrichthys alelia really does look like a deep bodied chromis, and growing up to around three inches long. The new damselfish species was described from specimens collected at Uson Island and Sangat Island from Palawan Philippines. It’s really a shame that these fish are unremarkable in their appearance because a more attractive reef fish that can breed like a cichlid would be a very welcome addition to the saltwater aquarium hobby. [ZooKeys]