Bali Aquarich is never short of surprise new fish they have captive bred but Mr. Su and his team have saved a special announcement with their first ever captive bred joculator angelfish. The joculator angel, Centropyge joculator has been bred before but Bali Aquarich is the first company that might actually continue to raise them and make this rare pygmy angelfish readily available in the aquarium hobby.
If you’re not familiar with the joculator angelfish, don’t you’re not alone because this rare ‘microendemic’ reef fish is only known from Cocos Keeling and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean – the same place where our beloved cocopeel angelfish are also found. Superficially, if you described its appearance to someone, the joculator angelfish is more or less identical to the very common bicolor angelfish, Centropyge bicolor.
The commonly available bicolor angelfish on the left, and very rare joculator angelfish on the right.
Both the ‘Joc’ and bicolor angelfish are bicolored with a yellow front half and blue back half, but bicolor angels are more yellow where Jocs are more golden to light orange, both of which are trimmed with a yellow tail. The makeup around the eyes is also distinct in the two species, with the bicolor angelfish having more of a stripe that goes over the head while the joculator has more of a light blue eye ring.
The bicolor angelfish also has a much more defined demarcation between the yellow and the blue, while the joculators transition is more fuzzy. Lastly, and perhaps the biggest visual difference is the more rounded fins and face of the joculator compared to the very elongated fins of the bicolor angelfish.
What is particularly exciting about these captive bred joculator angelfish is that maybe, for once the cultured fish have a chance of being price competitive with wild caught specimens. There’s not too much variability in the captive breeding protocols of most pygmy angelfish, some specimens do have much longer larval duration periods, increasing cost and reducing survival.
A selection of wild joculator angelfish from our friends at Blue Harbor Japan, with prices ranging from $680 to $800.
Depending on the species the cost of captive bred pygmy angelfish is usually a modest premium over their wild counterparts but since wild joculator angelfish already sport an average price fo $600 to $900 depending on size and the regional market. It’s still too early in Bali Aquarich’s joculator breeding program to know how these will price out – surely the initial specimens will fetch a novelty premium.
But if Mr. Su and his team manage to raise joculator angelfish in good quantities, it’s entirely reasonable that they could undercut the price of wild Centropyge joculator, democratizing the access to this rare and unusual species for a broader saltwater aquarium audience.