RSS Serranus pulcher, new basslet species from West Africa

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Serranus pulcher is a new species of basslet from the east Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. It’s been a good long while since we’ve had a new species of Serranus described, so the new S. pulcher joins a tear of many new reef fish species getting formal descriptions this year.


Rare color form of Serranus pulcher. D. Catania

The new mostly reddish basslet is found primarily around the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, the same little explored region that brought us Liopropoma emanueli back in 2012 and more recently, where an undescribed species of Chromis was documented. On the coral front the, even further back in time we saw Sao Tome export a small handful of Atlantic corals like the truly bizarre Schizoculina fissipara, so it’s safe to say there’s no lack of exotic marine life in this area.

The newly minted Serranus pulcher is most similar in appearance to Serranus heterurus, a small basslet with a number of reddish bars across the body. However it also looks quite a lot like another reddish Serranus basslet from Ghana which saw a mild degree of circulation in the aquarium hobby several years back.



Serranus sp. from Ghana above. Photos by Jay Hemdal (left) and Sanjay Joshi (right) and Serranus heterurus below, photos by Rogelio Herrera (left) and Sebastian Blache (right)

The new species of Serranus is found on hard bottom rocky habitats from about 3 feet to 30 feet of depth. There are many species of Serranus throughout the Atlantic Ocean and East Pacific Ocean but S. pulcher is among the smallest in the East Atlantic growing to a maximum size of just 70mm or under three inches.

Normally the new Serranus pulcher is generally reddish, especially around the belly and ventral area, with a white throat, dark upper anterior part of the body and some white patches below the soft dorsal fin. There is a rare color form of the new species which displays two loose whitish stripes the length of the body, giving this species the appearance of having three roughly outlined red bands.

The latest member of the seabass family, Serranus pulcher is described by Peter Wirtz & Tomio Iwamoto in Volume 63 of the Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.


Serranus pulcher, photo Peter Wirtz


Serranus pulcher. Photo Scott Michael


Rare color form of Serranus pulcher. Photo Peter Wirtz

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