Biota Aquariums' Cultured Borbonious Anthias

Borbonius Anthias

One of the most beautiful creatures living in the depths of our oceans is the Borbonius Anthias (Odontanthias borbonious).

Its coloration is simply magnificent. Lemon yellow fins and irregular golden markings compliment a warm pink body.

A distinctly spiny anterior dorsal fin contrasts with the graceful filaments on the soft dorsal fin and tail. All of them have additional touches of pink. The combination is reminiscent of colors found in the most glorious of sunsets.

Biota Aquariums has just unveiled the world's first ever 100% aquarium-cultured Borbonious. The announcement makes this unique creature available to experienced marine hobbyists for the first time...

The Borbonius Anthias goes by many names, such as:

  • Checked Swallowtail
  • Japanese Spotted Anthias
  • Yellow Spotted Anthias
  • Blotchy Anthias
  • Blotched Anthias

It is probably most commonly referred to as Blotched Anthias.


There are quite a lot of species of Anthias which live in brightly lit, fast-moving shallow waters. But the Borbonius Anthias is a hardy fish that tends to stay at depths of 300 to 1,000 feet. It prefers water temperatures ranging from 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most Borbonius Anthias live on deep coral reefs, along the crests or the faces of seaward-facing drop-offs. While these waters don’t have the same type of energetic tides as shallower areas, there are very strong currents and huge temperature fluctuations.

The Borbonius Anthias swim underneath the overhangs of a reef, or within its crevices, rather than far out into the open-water. Since Borbonius Anthias eat only plankton, they don’t present any danger to living coral reefs.


Borbonius Anthias are fairly small reef fishes that usually live in large groups. Females are much more abundant than males.

There is controlled aggression within groups of Borbonius Anthias that keeps their hierarchy in proportionate numbers. Males harass the females constantly, and females do the same to smaller fish.

One of the most fascinating characteristics of the Borbonius Anthias is that they are “sequential hermaphrodites”. That means they begin life as females and will turn into males under certain circumstances.

When a male dies, or the ratio of males to females gets very low, bigger females will change into males. It takes a few weeks for a female to look like a male. Eventually, they will begin to function as males.

Science and Industry

In late 2016 Biota aquaculture hosted the California Academy of Sciences in Palau. The mission was to collect deep-water species for display and research at the Academy in SFO. They also collected some Borbonious for Biota to trial for breeding in their new deep water breeding room.

The fish they collected had to be placed in pressure chambers and were then brought up to the surface and the pressure was vented over a period of several days. This allowed the fish to adjust without too much stress.

After about 1 week, the anthias were adjusted in their new home and actively feeding on a mixed diet of live feed and pellets. They were then held at Biota for about 6 months where they were fed as much as they could eat and kept at relatively cold temperatures (which is average for the deep waters they came from).

The breeding trials were not set to begin, however by total chance the air conditioner broke down and this ‘accidental’ spike in temperature triggered the Anthias to start spawning! Over night we had about 80 eggs which meant that we were on the way...

As a result of this effort, we are proud to announce the Borbonious Anthias is now available in limited numbers to the aquarium trade!

Check out Biota Aquarium's new Ocean Oddities which features direct sales from our farm in Palau.



Marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse is the President of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington. He says, "The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish. Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."

We have to maintain an ecological balance in our oceans if we want the same choice of available fish. Fortunately, many people, businesses, and governments now acknowledge this fact. There is currently a trend to develop more sustainable fishing practices.

Another solution has been the farming of various species of fish or aquaculture. Marine aquaculture, in particular, is for species which live in the ocean. These farms can actually be in the ocean, with cages on the seafloor or suspended in a water column.

There are also farms on land. They use man-made systems with tanks or ponds. Re-circulating systems recycle, reuse and reduce waste and water. In that way, they can support some species of marine life.

Unfortunately, this is particularly difficult with Borbonius Anthias. The aquarium they are kept in must have certain parameters that replicate the deep waters they are normally found in. Temperature range, lighting intensity, and photoperiod, as well as specially formulated diets all, contribute to getting them to spawn in captivity.

For more information about protecting deep water species such as the Borbonius Anthias, share and visit the Biota Aquariums website and the links featured above.