News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Red-spotted Dottyback (Pholidochromis cerasina) (11/23/16)

Species Spotlight - Red-spotted Dottyback (Pholidochromis cerasina)

Species Spotlight - Red-spotted Dottyback (Pholidochromis cerasina)
One of the most enigmatic members of the dottyback family is a seldom seen species with a relatively short, stocky body and beautiful bright-red spots. Known variably as the Red-spotted or Cherry Dottyback, Pholidochromis cerasina was first encountered as an occasional bycatch from aquarium collectors in the region and only became scientifically described in 2004. Since then, this species has proven to be quite elusive, rarely being encountered by divers and still quite seldomly seen in the aquarium trade.

The genus Pholidochromis is quite small, containing only two species in total, both restricted to the West Pacific. As poorly known as P. cerasina is (in fact, it was described from just a single specimen), its sister species from New Guinea, P. marginatus, is even more obscure, as there is not a single known photograph of a live individual.

This genus is known to be strongly sexually dichromatic, with males developing the characteristic reddish spots. Females, on the other hand, are a predominantly white fish, with a subtle, dark line present near the margin of the fins. Both sexes in P. cerasina sport a small black spot near the rear edge of the head, which, in P. marginatus, are more numerous, but, aside from this minor difference in appearance and their separate distributions in the wild, these two fishes are remarkably similar.

Aquarium specimens are reported to be timid and reclusive, which goes a long way toward explaining this fishs relative rarity. They likely only inhabit caves and crevices in the wild, where they can easily remain hidden from prying eyes. While they may be on the peaceful side, they are still a dottyback and aquarium specimens have been reported to attack other fishes inhabiting their ecological niche, such as the Royal Gramma. For this reason, caution should be exercised when adding this species to a smaller aquarium when other bottom-dwellers are present. But, aside from this one reservation, the Red-spotted Dottyback is a fascinating, rare and beautiful creature that makes for a lovely addition to the right aquarium. These arent often available, so if youre interested in an uncommon fish thats still highly affordable, be sure to grab it while you can.