Acanthoplesiops jessicae is a new species of spiny basslet from Papua New Guinea that is a far cry from the typical appearance of fish in this genus. The newly described basslet was discovered in the hotspot of endemism and biodiversity not only of PNG, but of the famous Milne Bay where gorgeous gobies, pipefish, and dottybacks can also be found.
The Longfins of the family Plesiopidae is a very peculiar family of widely distributed reef fish, with a predilection for cryptic behavior, making them hard to spot in the wild. Jessica’s spiny basslet is the seventh species to be described in this genus but it has a very distinctive coloration and pattern.
Most species of spiny basslets are fairly muted in their appearance with very dark sometime black color in Acanthoplesiops psilogaster or actually brown light patterning like the aptly named coffee basslet, A. cappuccino. However Acanthoplesiops jessicae is unique with a much lighter coloration overall being a pale brown overall with small white spots over much of the body and light border of yellow and white to trim the edges of the unpaired fins.
This new basslet from Milne Bay is a tiny fish though, with the type specimens barely cracking half an inch long with a maximum size of between 13 and 15 mm long. The likelihood of spotting such a small, usually cryptic fish is compounded by the fact that is was collected from pretty deep reef slopes ranging from 27 to 65 meters, or 88 to 213 feet below the surface. [Aqua]