RSS Macropharyngodon moyeri discovered and collected in the Philippines

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Being a self-proclaimed fish nerd my interest gets piqued anytime one of those ‘rare to the hobby’ fish becomes available, even if it is a type I am not normally excited about. But when a particularly enticing specimen comes available, well forget it, I’m over the moon.

This was the case last month. While there was a lot of hubbub about a xanthic undulated triggerfish captured in the Philipinnes by the folks at RVS Fishworld, in their album of other fish that arrived that day there were a few photos of a reddish pink wrasse that was about the size of a man’s hand.

This wrasse was Macropharyngodon moyeri, Moyer’s leopard wrasse, a rare reef species that was thought to be restricted to the waters of southern Japan and Taiwan, and because of such limited distribution was considered unattainable at this time. In fact, there are no pics of Moyer’s leopard wrasse in aquaria, only from divers.

Macropharyngodon moyeri belongs to a complex of less commonly encountered leopard wrasses. The most common member in the hobby is Macropharyngodon kuiteri, which is sporadically available, usually from Australia and the Coral Sea. The next member of this group is Macropharyngodon vivienae, hailing from South Africa, Kenya, and Madagascar, is infrequently available at best.

And then there is M. moyeri which, until now has never made it to the trade. This complex gets a little larger than most of the commonly kept Macropharyngodon species, and male kuiteri and vivienae have been reported to be a little more aggressive as well. It would make sense that Moyer’s leopard wrasse would follow suit.

The summer of 2015 has seen a number of fishes that were previously thought to be Japanese endemics find their way to the waters of the northern Philipinnes, notably with Cirrhilabrus katoi and Cirrhilabrus katherinae. Hopefully with the range extension of M. moyeri and with an increased effort to collect in the northern waters of the Philippines, this beautiful leopard will be available on a more regular basis.

This is a guest contribution by TJ Engels, one of the marine fish specialists at Greenwich Aquaria
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