The Belonoperca genus of Soapfishes is most famously represented by Belonoperca pylei, the highly sought-after Dr.Seuss, but let us introduce you to its only other congener, the enigmatic Belonoperca chabanaudi, the Arrowhead Soapfish.
As its outline suggests, the Arrowhead is predatory of fish and crustaceans which it hunts out in caves and overhangs in depths up to 50m in the Indo-Pacific. It’s double the size of its cousin but is still fully grown at just 6”. Its unorthodox, otherwise camouflaged pattern is highlighted with bright yellow near its tail – the only thing that gives its presence away to divers in the depths.
The headline fish pictured was hand-collected for Japanese fish seller Atblue, but others may be available from suppliers in Indonesia and the Philipines. We have only ever seen photographs of this small, perch-like predator, the last one of which was covered by Ichthyologist Lemon Tyk, ten years ago in 2012. One to look out for, for shady oddball aquariums. Like all soapfishes, it produces the toxin grammistin from its skin.