New clownfish described from Pacific

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Scientists have described a new species of clownfish from the skunk clown group.

Gerald Allen, Joshua Drew and Douglas Fenner described the new species as Amphiprion pacificus in the Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology.

Amphiprion pacificus is described from four specimens around 4-5cm long which were caught between Wallis Island and Tonga in the western Pacific Ocean.

However, underwater photographs by dive photographers have revealed the same species on coral reefs in Fiji and Samoa.

The new species is virtually identical in appearance to Amphiprion akallopisos, which comes from the Indian Ocean.

Both Amphiprion pacificus and A. akallopisos have a pinky brown body and a white stripe running along the back.

However, despite their similar markings, genetic results have suggested that A. pacificus is actually more closely related to Amphiprion sandaracinos, an anemonefish from the Western Australia and Indo-Malayan region.

The authors said: "Aside from genetic differences A. sandaracinos differs from A. pacificus in having a uniform orange colouration and the white forehead stripe extends onto the upper lip.

"There also appears to be modal differences in the number of soft dorsal and anal rays (usually 19 versus 18 and 13 versus 12 respectively for A. pacificus and A. sandaracinos)."

For more information see: Allen GR, Drew J and D Fenner (2010) - Amphiprion pacificus, a new species of anemonefish (Pomacentridae) from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and Wallis Island, pp. 129-138. Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, Volume 16, Issue 3 – 15 July 2010.