Common Name/s: Comet / Marine Betta
Maximum Adult Size: 20cm
Natural Distribution: Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Tonga and the Line Islands
Depth Range: usually 3 – 45m
Species Notes & Captive Care Notes: A member of the enigmatic ‘Longfin’ family, the Comet or Marine Betta has been available to hobbyists for many years. Usually occurring at depths of 3 – 45 m, cryptic adults are found in caves and crevices along reef drop-offs. Nocturnal by nature, they hide under ledges and in holes by day. Growing to around 20cm, the number of spots increases with age. Actually, some authorities list 2 species within this genus but it is postulated that they are actually one species and large specimens previously identified as C. argus may just be adult C. altivelis with many spots. As well as the spotting, they also possess prominent false eye markings to the rear of the dorsal fin. These ocelli confuse predators into striking at the rear of the fish, more often than not allowing the Comet to escape. When alarmed, this fish will poke its head into a hole and expose its tail end which mimics the head of a moray eel. The Comet also exhibits an interesting hunting technique as it initially stalks and then makes a side-on approach to confuse prey. Unsurprisingly, this species is not safe with small peaceful fishes or certain ornamental shrimps. Occasionally available, the Comet is not usually expensive and is hardy once settled.
Juvenile specimen above