News / Species Spotlight / Royal Dinar Dottyback (Pictichromis dinar) (11/29/17)

Royal Dinar Dottyback (Pictichromis dinar)

Species Spotlight - Royal Dinar Dottyback (Pictichromis dinar)
In October of 2009, legendary ichthyologist Jack Randall coauthored a paper describing a colorful new dottyback that had been found in aquarium collections from Sulawesi. The differences between this fish and the more common Royal Dottyback (P. paccagnellae) were relatively minor and had really only been noticed due to both species having been collected near to one another.

The easiest way to tell these two apart was said to be the relative position of the line separating the purple front half from the yellow back. It was noticeably slanted in P. dinar and mostly vertical in P. paccagnellae. The new dottyback also had some prominent extensions to its caudal fin that arent normally seen in P. paccagnellae and pelvic fins which seemed to have a bit more purple to them (though this is debatable). Most importantly, the available genetic data suggested the two populations were not interbreeding, though this was based on a limited number of specimens.

The local Sulawesian divers who were finding these also reported that the Bicolor Dottyback lived mostly in shallower habitats, while the Dinar Dottyback favored deep drop-offs. And so it seemed reasonable enough to recognize this purple and yellow fish as something new, but is it really?

This all depends on who you ask, and, the truth is, we still dont really know. There simply hasnt been enough study done, and there is reason to believe that there are other undescribed species in this genus waiting to be recognized. For instance, theres another purple and yellow dottyback found off Northwestern Australia which looks a lot like P. paccagnellae, but with the extravagant caudal fin of P. dinar. And there are all sorts of specimens that seem to blur the lines between these two alleged species.

But this is of little matter when it comes to their care in captivity. The Pictichromis dottybacks are more or less interchangeable in this regard, since their only real differences relate to color and geography. They all stay small, just a couple inches in length they leave corals and most invertebrates alone, though youve got to be careful with some of the smaller shrimps they are pugnacious given their size, especially towards smaller bottomdwellers and, unless you manage to acquire a bonded pair, you probably only want one in a tank. Dottybacks are known to change sex both ways (kinky, right?), but it takes a surprisingly large amount of space to keep two specimens from tearing each other up. Feed flake, pellet and frozen foods and enjoy this colorful evolutionary mystery as it skulks about the live rock.