Sunday 28 October 2018

Tosanoides aphrodite: A new species of Anthia from the St. Paul’s Rocks in the Mid Atlantic.

Anthias (Anthiinae), or  are small brightly coloured fish belonging to the Grouper Family (Serranidae) in the Perch Order (Perciformes). They are found in large numbers on many coral reefs, and tend to be highly endemic (i.e. species tend to have limited ranges), leading to a large number of different species. The variety, bright colouration and sociable nature of Anthias make them popular in the aquarium trade. All Anthias are born female, and join the harem of a male that controls a section of reef upon reaching maturity. Anthias grow throughout their lives, and when a male dies the largest female in his harem will  change sex, becoming male and taking over the harem.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 25 September 2018, Hudson Pinheiro, Claudia Rocha, and Luiz Rocha of the California Academy of Sciences describe a new species of Anthia from the St. Paul's Rocks, an uninhabited volcanic archipelago on the Mid Atlantic Ridge belonging to Brazil.

The new species is placed in the genus Tosanoides, and given the specific name aphrodite, in reference to the ancient Greek love goddess. The species is described from three adult males, two adult females and two juvenile females. The juveniles are 46.2 and 52.5 mm in length, the adult females 63.9 and 73.4 mm in length, and the males 74.1, 78.3 and 86.9 mm in length. The females and juveniles are a reddish orange in colour, darker above, with faint yellow and red stripes on the body. The males are more brightly coloured, pink and white, with well defined stripes. The species was found living in crevices on a mesophotic Coral reef (i.e. a Coral reef in an area where some light is present, but not enough to allow much photosynthesis) at depths of between 100 and 130 m.

Tosanoides aphrodite in its natural environment, photographed at a depth of 120 m in St. Paul’s Rocks, Brazil. Luiz Rocha in Pinheiro et al. (2018).

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