These species can be tricky to find while diving, preferring more secluded reefs or deeper waters, but they all are surprisingly local! These fishes are showstoppingly beautiful, and when incorporated with the right elements into an appropriate aquarium, can really bring out the visual appeal of a tank.
The Caribbean Pygmy or Cherub Angelfish is a smaller angel from the Centropyge genus, and is packed with color and personality. Although they are only an occasional sighting in the South Florida region, Cherub Angels can be seen off Jupiter, FL and West Palm Beach, and their range stretches into the Caribbean. The vivid coloration and individual characteristics of each fish, and the healthy appetite they display when fed healthy food options make them a beautiful centerpiece fish for the mid-sized aquarium.
Moderate care should be taken when placing in a reef tank, as some larger Cherub Angels may pick at small invertebrates or corals, however some may not so much.
The Yellowhead Jawfish is a burrowing fish with a yellow head and light blue body, and lives in the sandy, rubble-strewn and some reef regions of South Florida and the Keys, and requires a deep sand band in an aquarium. Playful and curious, the jawfish will stick close to its burrow and accept a variety of carefully placed meaty foods such as shrimp and bloodworms. However, they often retreat back into the burrow when approached or startled.
A tight fitting lid on a mid-size aquarium with a deep sand bed is needed for Yellowhead Jawfish, as they tend to jump when frightened.
Sunshine Chromis are a stunning damselfish from the Family Pomacentridae, but tend to have a more docile and schooling nature than those reef damselfish such as Sergeant Majors. They can be found along South Florida's reef tract up through West Palm Beach, and in most cases in deeper than 60 ft. of water. In a larger tank a small group could be maintained, and be an entertaining group if well fed and given space.
Although not as common as the Chromis cyanea, the Sunshine Chromis Chromis insolata could be a bold burst of color and motion into a South Florida themed tank looking for a bold streak of life.
The Bank Butterflyfish is a trickier fish to maintain in an aquarium, and only an occasional sighting on deep dives along South Florida's East Coast, but nonetheless is an oft-overlooked beauty from the local waters that could flourish if kept in an experienced aquarist's tank. Typically found in 80-120 ft. of water on deep reefs, the Bank Butterflyfish is often shy and reserved, and requires careful feeding and close attention in an appropriately sized aquarium with good rockwork for hiding. Not to mention that the price range for commercially available Bank Butterflyfishes is near $199-$399, given the depth at which they are collected.
There are other similar deep-water Prognathodes Butterflyfish in the region, not to mention the shallower and more abundant Chaetodon species which could be maintained, which will be a topic in a later article.
A rare sighting on deep dives in the area, the Candy Basslet is a smaller reef fish that has to be one of the most brightly colored and beautiful fishes in the Caribbean. They have a bold appetite for meaty foods and do well in a smaller aquarium, but often carry a steep price tag and are tough to come by. There are several other Liopropoma basslets in the area and throughout the Caribbean, but the Candy Basslet is the smallest most popular of those species.