The Hotumatua angelfish, Centropyge hotumatua, is a gorgeous species of pygmy angelfish that was once somewhat available in the aquarium hobby, but it has been all but absent for at least fifteen years. The reason for their absence is due to the fact that C. hotumatua is most well known from Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean where no ornamental fish collection takes place, although it has also been sighted at the next ‘closest’ islands of Pitcairn, Southern French Polynesia and most recently at Gambier Archipelago.
We remember a very narrow sliver of time when you could find C. hotumatua, the orangehead angelfish, at specialty fish retailers like The Marine Center for between $200 and $300 but that’s reaching back to turn of the millenium or earlier. Because no Hotumatua were around before the age of everyone being a decent photographer and having a camera in their pocket, very few photographs exist for this species which is why we look to intrepid divers to remind us of the beauty of this fish.
Thanks to a new photograph by Eduardo Sorensen published on the Spanish diving website Ladera Sur we can get a fresh modern look at this little known species from the South Pacific. One thing that makes this image of C. hotumatua special is that it appears to be a very mature specimen showing the full adult coloration of the orange head pygmy angelfish.
The dark blue body paired with an orange face, front of the body, pelvic and tail fins is remarkably similar to the Indian Ocean joculator angelfish but that species displays a more yellow coloration where the body is not blue and they even share the same blue eye ring, although the ‘Hot Tomato’ steps it up with some additional blue ornamentation on the edge of the gill cover. It’s been twenty years since we’ve seen Centropyge hotumatua in real life so it’s comforting to be reminded that these fish are still living their reef lives and looking awesome even when we forget about them. [Landera Sur]