I finally got my dream fish two weeks ago - a Flashing Tilefish Hoplolatilus chlupatyi I've named Blinky. These fish are notoriously delicate and difficult to keep, but Blinky was in excellent shape when I got him. He's been eating like a pig from day one and has a nice, full belly.
For the first two weeks, though, he hid under a rock and I had to target feed him. It didn't take him long to recognize me as the mysis dispenser, and he would come out from under his rock a few inches to eat. He's even started coming out of hiding any time I walk up to the tank, hoping to be fed. Today he was comfortable enough to swim further from his hiding place and explored the whole left side of the tank. I'm really happy he's doing so well.
As you can see, tilefish and seahorses make great companions. Above is a picture of Blinky and Juniper, my adult male H. erectus seahorse, sharing a meal together. This blue color with the green dorsal is Blinky's default coloration. When he gets excited or scared, he starts rapidly flashing all different vivid colors - pink, yellow, green purple...it's incredible. My boss had one of these for years and said that after a while, it stopped flashing and just stayed blue all the time. It's still a gorgeous fish even when it gets comfortable enough to stop flashing.
One reason tilefish are difficult to keep is because they are so shy. They should have the most peaceful tank mates like seahorses and gobies. Flashing Tilefish are especially delicate because they are deepwater fish living in waters over 100 feet deep. This is what causes their higher price tag; deepwater fish are more costly because it's more risky to dive for them. Once they are collected, they have to be slowly acclimatized to lower pressure or they will die. A Flashing Tilefish will set you back about $150 or more. But if you can find a healthy specimen, they are worth it.
Flashing Tilefish must be kept in an aquarium with a tightly closed lid. Any tiny holes in the canopy or top for tubes or cords should be well covered. The number one cause of death for Tilefish after being acclimated is from carpet surfing - jumping out of the aquarium.
December Update: Blinky is doing so great, I just love him. His favorite activity is definitely eating. He nibbles on the end of the feeding syringe or my fingers when I feed. He has no fear now and swims around all the time. He has filled out really nicely and has a fat belly.
Check out these Youtube videos of Flashing Tilefish changing colors: