When fish collectors venture into new regions and show us fish that we’ve never seen before, it’s easy to get excited at the potential of some of these specimens being new species. Alas, ichthyologists have been hard at work for centuries to describe every living novelty that they come across.
When RVS Fishworld showed off some gorgeous small purple Chromis damselfish from deepwaters around Didicas Island in the Philippines, we were enthusiastic that these could represent a species we’ve never seen before. However, being familiar with the development of damselfish species, we restrained our excitement for the possibility that this was just the attractive juvenile fish of a much larger, duller fish.
It’s a good thing we waited too because it has been confirmed that these darling little purple reef fish are the colorful juveniles of Chromis albomaculata, the white spotted chromis. Calling this fish ‘white spotted’ is a generous attribution because it’s basically just a big black chromis. We really held out some hope that RVS’s colorful deepwater damselfish could be a new pacific analog to Chromis scotti, the purple reef fish from the Caribbean, but no dice.
However, at the rate that RVS Fishworld is turning up new and unusual reef fish from remote parts of the Philippines, it’s only a matter of time until they show us something completely new, again.