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The most unique and rarest saltwater aquarium fish

Rare and unique saltwater aquarium fish are an exciting addition to any serious fish breeder’s collection. Before heading to any of these particular beauties, always ask yourself how these fish are collected and whether the practice is sustainable. We all want to make sure these fish will be available for generations.

  • 01 of 05

    Colins Angelfish (Paracentropyge Colini)

    LemonTYK / Flickr / CC by 2.0

    These lively beauties hail from the western and south Pacific regions and have a characteristic yellow body with a blue to black head and an anterior dorsal fin. They prefer darker marine environments and nibble on coral. As their main food, they prefer grazing on macroalgae.

    These fish can be very shy, so it is important to introduce them to the tank before add more aggressive fish. The Colin angelfish is rare due to its deeper waters and therefore easier to hide from catching.

    Species overview

    Long: Up to 3.5 inches

    Physical Properties: Yellow body with vivid blue tint on the head and upper quarter of the body; blue ring around the eye

  • 02 of 05

    Flashlight fish (anomalops katoptron)

    Borut Furlan / Getty Images

    Also known as the Twofin Flashlight Fish or Lantern Fish, these dark fish have a unique pale patch of skin under each eye that contains bioluminescent bacteria. This symbiosis creates a glow in the dark in areas without surface light. The fish can turn this light on and off, ensuring communication between their schoolmates, the ability to distract predators and attract zooplankton snacks.

    These fish are adapted to night life and do well with other night dwellers such as pinecone fish, squirrel fish, and cardinal fish. Nocturnal tanks require dim light and lots of hiding places. Flashlight fish work well with groups and are generally peaceful fish. These fish are rare due to their ability to hide in the dark. They are not currently bred in captivity.

    Species overview

    Long: 5.5 in

    Physical Properties: Mostly black body with some variations of purple-brown, with a unique pale patch of skin under each eye that contains bioluminescent bacteria

  • 03 of 05

    Yellow pipefish (Doryhamphus pessuliferus)

    Dave Fleetham / Getty Images

    Syngnathids, including seahorses and reed fish, can be a challenge for any fish keeper. These fish are a good water treat and can have severe, picky eating disorders. Many will get sick Mycobacterium spp. Infections as a result of weakness upon arrival at their new home.

    The Yellow Multibanded Pipefish has a bright color in yellow and deep red rings and is a living addition to a peaceful marine community. They prefer to be kept in male-female pairs or in a group. They do not get along with aggressive fish of any kind and cannot coexist with stinging anemones or soft corals.

    Species overview

    Long: 7.5 in

    Physical Properties: Long and colored in yellow and deep red rings; tubular mouth

  • 04 of 05

    Fingered Dragonet (Dactylopus Dactylopus)

    Getty Images / Daniela Dirscherl

    A rare addition to any reef tank, the Fingered Dragonet is a humble fish with a dramatic dorsal fin. Similar to the Scooter Blenny and also known as the Mother Sailfin Dragonet, the Fingered Dragonet is accented with light blue spots around the head and anal fin.

    Like other pennies, the Fingered Dragonet likes to dig its way into sandy subsoil and eat tiny live food such as Mysis in the living rock. The addition of a sanctuary allows you to grow additional foods that are readily available to your fish. You can keep more than one of these in an aquarium, but be sure to add them all at once so there is no competition for the best burrows and feeding sites.

    The fingered dragonet is rare as it is difficult to find in the reef and is a very picky eater in captivity.

    Species overview

    Long: Up to 11.8 inches

    Physical Properties: Dramatic dorsal fin with a mottled body and brightly colored fins and bright spots on the face

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  • 05 of 05

    Peppermint angelfish (Paracentropyge boylei)

    vojce / Getty Images

    Angelfish are very common in saltwater and freshwater aquariums, but the peppermint angelfish is an exceptionally rare species. These brightly colored, white and red striped fish are hard to find on a reef, and as of March 2019, only one was on public display at the Waikiki Aquarium.

    With a maximum length of 2.5 inches, this is said to be the most expensive reef fish per inch! If you are lucky enough to bring home any of these fish they will require a large aquarium of at least 125 gallons and will be fed like other sea angels.

    Species overview

    Long: Up to 2.5 inches

    Physical Properties: Short, compact orange body with thick white vertical stripes

Of course, these rare and unique fish are not for beginners! Make sure you master the basic beginner stages before bringing any of these fish home with you. If you are just starting out with aquariums, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with beginner fish. Remember, any serious investment requires a well-planned and implemented fish system!

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