Sunburst Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) – In The Spotlight

Fathead Sunburst Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus)

Sunburst Anthias

(Serranocirrhitus latus)


The Sunburst Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) is also known as the Fathead Anthias or Hawkfish Anthias. They are found in the Western Pacific near Fiji and further north around the Izu Islands and Taiwan. They have also been found near the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and Tonga. The Sunburst Anthias was first discovered in 1949 by Dr. M. Wantanabe off the coast of Okinawa, Japan¹.Originally classified as Cirrhitidae (Hawkfish) by Dr. Wantanabe, the Sunburst Anthias was rediscovered in 1962 by Dr. G. Whitley whom thought he had discovered a new species in the Coral Sea². It was only in 1978 that other two Biologists determined the separate discoveries were of the same species and officially classified the Suburst Anthias as part of the Serranidae (Grouper) family³. They are bright, interesting fish that once acclimated, do well in a reef aquarium.


The Sunburst Anthias has a round body with two primary distinguishable colors. A peach to pink colored body is highlighted with yellow tipped scales and matching tribal-esque markings on the face. The bright yellow continues on the dorsal fin, and down the top and bottom of the tail. Though reaching a maximum size of 5 inches, the Sunburst Anthias is a very slow grower and can be housed comfortably in smaller reef tanks for many years.


Sunburst Anthias are primarily found at the edge of the reef, near the drop off. Additionally, they frequent caves and reef overhangs. In Fiji, they have also been known to hang around colonies of stony corals, Alcyonaria, and Gorgonians. They are a deeper dwelling fish species and can be found in depth ranges from 46 feet to 231 feet in the wild⁴.


Primarily feeding on zooplankton in the wild, the Sunburst Anthias has no trouble adjusting to a prepared diet in captivity. Once comfortable in its’ new environment, the Sunburst Anthias will readily accepted frozen mixes, frozen Mysis and Brine shrimp. It is recommended they be fed multiple times a day.


There are no distinguishable characteristics nor color differences between the male and female Sunburst Anthias. Usually found in pairs or trios, they can sometimes be found on the edge of reef drop offs in small schools. When found in groups, the males tend to be larger than the females. Similar to other Anthias species, the Sunburst Anthias is hermaphroditic. The most dominant female will change to male in a group setting. Spawning is usually trigger by warmer water temperatures, and eggs are fertilized externally⁵.

Conditioning and Acclimation

Due to natural behavior and habitat, it can take a few days for a newly introduced Sunburst Anthias to adjust to aquarium life. Sunburst Anthias do best in reef tanks with lots of rock and caves. Naturally shy at first, it can sometimes be coaxed out into the water column quicker with personable and peaceful tank mates. Once comfortable, the Sunburst Anthias will spends its’ days alternating between the water column and hanging out in caves and overhangs. Though they sometimes school in the wild, it is only recommended to keep a pair or trio of Sunburst Anthias in an appropriately sized reef tank. As with all new additions, it is always recommended to turn off or dim the lights the first day to allow the fish to settle in its’ new environment.


¹Watanabe, M. 1949. Studies on the fishes of the Ryukyu Islands. II. A new cirrhitoid fish. Bull. Biogeogr. Soc. Japan

²Whitley, G. P. 1962. A new fish from the Coral Sea (Pisces: Anthiidae)

³Michael, S. 2002. Aquarium Fish: Fathead Anthias

⁴Myers, L. 1999

⁵Dallas World Aquarium (DWA Zoo) 2019


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