Today is an exciting day for all Caracanthus lovers! If you think Coral Crouchers are like pygmy Scorpionfish, wait till you see the Pygmy Coral Croucher. Today we found a very tiny Coral Croucher (aka Venomous Velvetfish) on an Acropora coral from Fiji. I'm pretty confident with the ID of Caracanthus unipinna because of the color and elongated tubercles. It's about the size of my thumbnail; I've never seen a Coral Croucher this tiny. It isn't spotted like the other Caracanthus, but it's pretty in its own right - the color of copper with a dark dorsal area.
I've named my new acquisition "Penny" and have it acclimating into my coral tank right now. I think that will be the best place for it because there are no other fish in the coral tank, and the water quality is pristine. This tank is crawling with Amphipods and Munnid Isopods which will come in handy while I'm trying to wean this little fish onto frozen foods. I don't want to lose this tiny fish in the comparitively huge 25 gallon tank, so I bought it a little guppy breeding box. I'll keep "Penny" in there with a (somewhat) live coral frag until it is trained to eat frozen mysis and gets big enough to go into the main tank. Click here to learn more about Coral Croucher care.
I've had pretty good luck with Caracanthus in the past, and this one seems to be in good health. It really amazes me that this miniscule creature hitchhiked all the way from Fiji to my house in the middle of the U.S. continent. I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to care for and study this little known species of Caracanthus. Wish us luck!
December 18 UPDATE: Success! Penny voraciously attacked and ate a piece of frozen mysis a few minutes ago. That means I won't have to hunt for Amphipods and try to suck them up into the feeding syringe anymore. I'll keep you updated on Penny. I wonder how much bigger it will get?
November 2010 Update: Penny never got much bigger, but was eating frozen well. I decided to put it in the main tank where it disappeared. I knew there was a good chance it was still alive, but very small and cryptic. I moved my tanks recently and was sad that I didn't find it among the many other cryptic creatures I hadn't seen in over a year.