Researchers at the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) reported that several specimens of Rhino Fish had been discovered off of Pianosa, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. This strange species of fish (scientific name
) sports a horn like a rhinoceros. It was said to be indigenous to Thailand. Specimens had been imported to Italy as an ornamental fish species, and it was believed that some of these had escaped from their underwater cages during a storm.
Rhino Fish Found Even in Pianosa
by Primiero Aprilanti
Monday, April 1 2019
During inspections conducted by Life ASAP
researchers (experts on invasive species), several specimens of rhino fish (Sigus aprilis
) were spotted near the island of Pianosa, in the area of Cala Giovanna. After several reports and the capture of three adult specimens in the Sicilian Channel last February, this is the first discovery in the central Tyrrhenian of this alien species, originating in Thailand, introduced and marketed in Italy as an ornamental fish species. Contacts are underway with the professional and amateur fishing associations of the region to quickly activate removal operations for this alien species in our seas.
This ornamental fish species is particularly appreciated by aquarists, since during the reproductive period (in April precisely, to which the scientific name of the species refers) the males take on a brilliant ruby red livery and the females turn bright green, with red reflections in the ventral part. Its feeding varies a lot during its life cycle: in nature the larva passes from a juvenile stage, in which it feeds mainly on small pelagic crustaceans, to then feed on molluscs as an adult. Interestingly, when it feeds preceding the reproductive period in its place of origin, the adults go in search of molluscs of the genus Trinus, rich in astaxanthin, of which they are greedy.
Being an alien species recently discovered in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the ecology of this species in our seas is not yet known. Morphological and genetic analyzes are being carried out on the specimens fished in the Sicily channel in the ISPRA laboratories
in Palermo. It is not yet clear how this alien species has come from south-east Asia to our seas, although the most accepted hypothesis seems to be the escape from a storage system of ornamental fish species in cages floating in the waters of Pachino (SR), which were torn up by an abnormal storm at the end of last January, with the consequent flight of all the specimens contained in them.
The professional and amateur fishing associations of the region have been alerted to quickly activate removal operations for this alien species in our seas.