Of all the fishes that I photograph, I think it is the Lyretail Anthias, good ‘ol Pseudanthias squamipinnis, that provides me with the best value per fish. Here’s why.
Wreck fish, Sea Goldies, Squamies, whatever you want to call them, they are a massively abundant fish on most Red Sea reefs, and since I travel there a few times a year, they tend to feature quite regularly and given their sheer abundance they can dominate images of reefs.
Squamies are found in the shallows – where their vivid colors are very noticeable – to depths of forty meters and they are always ‘on the go’. In fact, watching them will tell you a lot about the direction and strength of upcoming currents. If the anthias are swimming hard and aren’t venturing too far from the coral, then you’ve got some hard finning to come. When the currents drop, you notice that the males are a few feet further out, keeping an eye on their harems. Sometimes you will see shoals of males that have yet to acquire territories.
Squamies are very useful for adding color, even at depth. Shooting upwards, to include some of the ‘blue’ and using strobes means you capture the bright colors of the fish – and of course everything else as the strong currents that the fish enjoy also suit colorful soft corals- giving you images with contrasting colors.
Also, the fact that the fish are very territorial and feel confident in their numbers means they will stay quite close to you. The nearest fish will of course seek shelter, but quickly, they will feel comfortable and re-emerge from the reef into the current, meaning you can capture a reef scene, with ease, that doesn’t show the reef’s inhabitants disappearing into the distance.