Japanese Cherry Anthias (Sacura margaritacea) Male

Triton Marine Aquaculture
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The cool, subtropical waters of Japan are home to a great many endemic species. Most of which are rarely seen in the aquarium trade, at least, outside of Japan. These fishes are often exceptionally colorful and, as one might image, expensive. Included in this list are the Japanese Angelfish (Centropyge interrupta), the Long-tailed Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus lanceolatus) and gorgeous anthidiine Tosanoides flavofasciatus.

But theres another anthias in these waters with beauty to spare, the Cherry Anthias (Sacura margaritacea). This vibrant species is characteristic of deeper reef drop-offs where currents are swift and gorgonians abound. Japanese divers seem especially fond of photographing it in the wild, and the wealth of in situ images show that this species is often dominant in its preferred habitat, occurring in vast shoals numbering hundreds of specimens. Unlike some of their shallower-water cousins, these groups are often dense with males, suggesting that this fish doesnt have the same harem-like social structure that we see in a species like the Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis).

The sexes are quite distinctive in Sacura margaritacea. The common name is apt, as the species boasts a sumptuous cherry hue. This is also alluded to in the scientific name, as sakura is the Japanese word for cherry. The epithet margaritacea, from the Latin for pearly, is in reference to the white scales which develop in mature males. Females, on the other hand, are more of a peachy orange shade, with a prominent black spot in the dorsal fin. The overall shape of this fish is quite similar that seen in Odontanthias, another deep water denison.The two genera are presumably quite closely related.

As this species hails from rather cool, dim conditions, it is best to replicate this in captivity. A strong chiller is recommended to keep temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At least upon initial acclimation, reduced lighting is important to encourage specimens to swim about. Feeding is relatively simple, as the species will accept a wide range of frozen foods, especially mysis. Groups can be kept together in captivity, but this is only recommended in larger systems where any intraspecific aggression can be mitigated. Otherwise, a single Cherry Anthias is a better option, like the proverbial cherry on a piscine sundae.