First record of the dottyback Manonichthys
alleni (Teleostei: Perciformes:
Pseudochromidae) from the Philippines
arthur r. bos1,2,3and henny m. smits4
1Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, The American University in Cairo, PO Box 74, New Cairo 11835, Egypt,
2Naturalis Biodiversity Center, PO Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands,3Research Office, Davao del Norte State College, New
Visayas, 8105 Panabo, Philippines,4Hydromax, Sta. Ana Wharf, Davao City 8000, Philippines
Several specimens of the pseudochromid Manonichthys alleni, with total length ranging from 45 to 60 mm, were observed at
depths of 19–28 m in a coral reef in the Davao Gulf in the southern Philippines. Each specimen lived within a separate colony
of the tubular sponge Callyspongia aerizusa. This constitutes the first record in the Philippine archipelago of a dottyback so far
only known from Indonesian and Malaysian waters.
Keywords: Callyspongia, Davao Gulf, Mindanao, Porifera, Pseudochrominae, Pseudochromis, symbiosis
Submitted 8 August 2012; accepted 26 March 2013
Dottybacks (Pseudochromidae) are relatively small and often
brightly-coloured fish that inhabit Indo-Pacific coral reefs
(Allen et al., 2003; Froese & Pauly, 2012). Living in crevices,
their behaviour is highly secretive and dottybacks venture
into the open only for short moments to catch prey. This
explains that they are rarely seen despite being relatively
common. Due to their size and behaviour, dottybacks are
not targeted by fishermen and have often been overseen by
divers. Therefore, several species of the Pseudochromidae
have been described relatively recently (e.g. Allen &
Erdmann, 2007; Randall & Schultz, 2009; Gill et al., 2012).
Gill (2004) reviewed the subfamily Pseudochrominae and
described the new genus Manonichthys as differing from
other pseudochromid genera in having an incomplete lower
lip and a varying pterygiophore formula of the dorsal fin.
Furthermore, species belonging to the genus Manonichthys
facultatively live within large tubular sponges (Gill &
Williams, 2011). Gill (2004) recognized five species within
the genus Manonichthys of which only M. winterbottomi
Gill, 2004, was found in the central Philippines. Later Gill &
Williams (2011) described a new species Manonichthys scin-
tilla Gill & Williams, 2011, from the western central
Philippines, which brought the number of representatives of
this genus to two for the entire Philippine archipelago. The
present study reports the first record of a third representative
of the genus Manonichthys in the Philippines and describes
the size and features of the localities of the observed
MA TER IAL S AND MET HOD S
On 25 May 2011, the first author observed a representative
of the genus Manonichthys at a depth of 28 m while SCUBA
diving in a coral reef in the Davao Gulf, the Philippines
(780′43.53′′N–125842′39.35′′E). Unfortunately, the specimen
rapidly disappeared into a tubular sponge not allowing the
identification of the species. Also the resulting photograph
did not allow identifying the fish at species level. The
coral reef was revisited on 28 June 2012 in an attempt to
Multiple dives were conducted using SCUBA gear. Once a
specimen was found, the locality was carefully studied for
about 20 minutes and the specimen was photographed
when leaving its refuge. The specimens were identified
from the photographs using Gill (2004) and Gill &
RE SU L TS
On 28 June 2012, a specimen of Manonichthys alleni was
observed at a depth of 23 m (Figure 1) in the same coral
reef where a representative of the genus Manonichthys was
observed in May 2011. A large colony of the tubular
sponge Callyspongia aerizusa Desqueyroux-Fau ´ndez, 1984,
formed the home range of this specimen. Two additional
specimens were found at 19 and 20 m depth, each living in
a separate tubular sponge of C. aerizusa. All specimens had
one prominent crimson spot near the anterior base of each
pelvic fin (Figure 1). This differentiated the observed speci-
mens from other species of this genus. Total length of the
specimens was estimated at 45–60 mm. All specimens
behaved highly secretively and hid within tubes of the
sponges. The specimens avoided leaving their refuge while
being observed by a diver.
Marine Biodiversity Records, page 1 of 2.
doi:10.1017/S1755267213000365; Vol. 6; e61; 2013 Published online
# Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 2013
D I S C U S S I O N Download full-text
Coral reef fish have been intensivelystudiedin the Philippines,
but ichthyological research has mainly concentrated on the
central islands (Visayas and Palawan) and the northern
island (Luzon) of the country (e.g. Russ et al., 2005;
Samoilys et al., 2007; Bos, 2011). Political instability in the
southern islands (Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Mindanao)
has hampered the development of a research infrastructure
and, as a consequence, a limited number of studies has been
performed in these regions. Recently however, several inter-
esting phenomena were recorded in the Davao Gulf (south-
east Mindanao). Symbiotic fish were firstly observed (Bos,
2012) in association with the mushroom coral Heliofungia
actiniformis Quoy & Gaimard, 1833, earlier known to only
host invertebrate fauna (Hoeksema et al., 2012). Also a sym-
biotic relationshipmay exist
Manonichthys alleni and the tubular sponge Callyspongia aer-
izusa. Furthermore, a new predator of the crown-of-thorns
seastar Acanthaster planci (Linneaus, 1758) was discovered
in the Davao Gulf (Bos et al., 2008, 2011). The present
study describing the first record of Manonichthys alleni in
the Philippines is another example of a unique observation
in coral reefs in south-east Mindanao. The above observations
are proof that this region contains a wealth of biological and
ecological information yet to be discovered. Therefore it
seems plausible that species, earlier reported from the adjacent
Celebes Sea or other seas within the Coral Triangle, may be
recorded in the future.
We greatly acknowledge the support of J. Bayogan, G.
Gumanao, and the field staff of the Davao del Norte State
College. Furthermore, we thank R. van Soest and N. de
Voogd from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center for identifying
the tubular sponge. This research received no specific grant
from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit
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Correspondence should be addressed to:
Department of Biology
School of Science and Engineering
The American University in Cairo
PO Box 74, New Cairo
Fig. 1. Manonichthys alleni Gill, 2004, at 23 m in a coral reef in the Davao
Gulf, the Philippines (photograph: A.R. Bos).
2 arthur r. bos and henny m. smits