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  L# Fish You Will Almost Never See ...
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SubscribeFish You Will Almost Never See ...
*Ultimate Fish Guru*
Panda Funster
Posts: 5496
Kudos: 2828
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Registered: 10-Feb-2003
male uk
I thought I'd take this opportunity to cover a couple of species that are likely to be so rare in the hobby, that simply seeing a specimen of these fishes is a once in a lifetime experience. Reasons for the rarity of these fishes will become apparent in due course.

First of all, there is Paracentropyge boylei, also known as the Candystriped Angelfish. Even photographs of this species are rare, let alone sightings of the actual fish, and any aquarist wishing to add this fish to a marine aquarium collection should be prepared to face astronomical expense with respect thereto.

This is because the fish is a deep-water species that, thus far, has never been recorded at depths below 300 feet. Needless to say, the logistics of simply finding this fish are daunting. Only first-class scuba divers should even attempt to descend to those depths, let alone engage in fish collecting! Use of heliox in conjunction with rebreather apparatus is practically mandatory for descent to 300 feet for any length of time, and the decompression regime is such that 30 minutes' activity at 300 feet is followed by something like four hours of staged decompression ascents! Which, of course, is not only for the benefit of the diver, but the fish too - it's pretty pointless collecting an expensive fish at those depths, only to have it die of gas embolisms because it was rushed to the surface too quickly.

Even after the four hour decompression ascent, divers are advised to enter a decompression chamber immediately upon reaching the surface for extra safety, and the decompression regime that follows can, in some instances, take a full seven days to complete. And, of course, the fish has to join the diver in the decompression chamber ...

Then, after decompression, there is the matter of shipping. Which, in the case of the UK, involves a 7,000 mile flight. Given the sensitive nature of this fish, it usually has its own shipping bag, because the last thing the collecting company wants is for a fish this expensive to be mixed up with a far cheaper fish!

Then, upon arrival in the UK, there is the customs paperwork to be processed, which adds to the expense again, and so, by the time a specimen of this fish reaches a retail outlet, the prospective buyer is looking at a fish that will cost as much as a used BMW 5 series - and one with a full service history from an authorised dealer at that!

Mind you, at least there does exist the slim possibility of seeing this fish in an aquarium, although I emphasise that the possibility IS slim. Two fishes that are, on the face of it, somewhat easier to collect, are species that I can probably say safely will NEVER appear in an aquarium in the foreseeable future, and again, the reasons for this will rapidly become apparent.

One of these is the Resplendent Angelfish, Centropyge resplendens. This fish is endemic to just one island on the entire planet, which alone is going to place difficulties in the way of any collector. That island is also extremely isolated, being at least 1,250 miles from the nearest continental land mass, and consequently is difficult to reach. However, all this pales into insignificance when one realises that the island in question is Ascension Island. Which, for better or worse, is a strategic military outpost for NATO, used by the air forces of both the UK and the USA, and as a consequence, civilian access to the island is extremely restricted. The bureaucratic hoops one has to jump through even if one is a member of the armed forces are considerable here, and as for non-forces personnel, well, unless you happen to be working in an intelligence arm, forget it. I stand more chance of having Scarlett Johanssen asking me to marry her than I do of visiting Ascension Island as a civilian, so unless you happen to be able to pull strings with the RAF or the USAF, don't plan on visiting this place for a spot of fish collecting any time soon.

The other species that I've placed on the list of "zero chance" fishes is the Lord Howe Island Butterfly Fish, Amphichaetodon howensis. Again, this fish is endemic to the island after which it is named, and the island in question is again somewhat troublesome to access, though at the moment, there are regular flights from Sydney according to the tourist website applicable thereto.

The big problem with Lord Howe Island is that it comes under Australian jurisdiction, and the Australian government is, as natives posting here will verify all too readily, extremely strict about exporting its wildlife. In the case of Lord Howe Island, the Australian government is likely to place VERY severe bureaucratic hurdles in the way of scientific institutions wishing to collect there, let alone commercial collectors for the aquarium hobby. This is because Lord Howe Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a large chunk of the surrounding ocean has been declared a Marine Park by the Australian government, and the chances of being able to collect anything from such a site are, as a direct consequence thereof, effectively zero. It's possible to go snorkelling and scuba diving there, and see the fish in its native habitat, in waters that are possibly among the most pristine on the planet, but see this fish in an aquarium? Again, it's more likely that I'll be receiving a visit from a certain Miss Johanssen in her bridal gown before I see that fish in an aquarium.

Anyone care to add to this list of "no chance" fishes in the marine aquarium?

Panda Catfish fan and keeper/breeder since Christmas 2002
Post InfoPosted 14-Jan-2009 03:54Profile Homepage PM Edit Report 
Ultimate Fish Guru
Asian Hardfeather Enthusiast
Posts: 3300
Votes: 162
Registered: 23-Feb-2001
male uk
Paracentropyge boylei is quite commonly for sale - but in china and japan. They go for about $4000 US.
Post InfoPosted 14-Jan-2009 06:00Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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