Amphiprion mccullochi

Common Name: Lord Howe Akindynos Anemonefish

Scientific Name: Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929

Distribution: Lord Howe Island, Elisabeth & Middleton Reefs. Rare waifs might reach New South Wales. Apparently absent from Norfolk Island.

Type Locality: Lord Howe Island, Australia

Identification: Body black. A single irregular and abbreviated stripe anteriorly, occasionally entirely absent. Dorsal, ventral and pectoral fins black. Caudal fin white and truncate (sometimes slightly forked).

Similar: Somewhat similar to the melanopus group, due to the single stripe, but, with the exception of melanistic A. frenatus, these are never so black. The Australian and Caledonian Akindynos Anemonefishes are most similar, but differ in having a second stripe and a browner coloration. Occasional individuals from New South Wales have been observed with just an anterior stripe present, but can be recognized by the relatively brown coloration.

Notes: This distinctive anemonefish has traditionally been considered as belonging to the melanopus group, but genetic data has resolutely argued against this, putting it as a close relative of A. akindynos.

Amphiprion mccullochi is one of the most geographically restricted species in the genus, occupying just a small sliver of the Coral Sea. The presence of A. akindynos waifs at Lord Howe Island, coupled with the presence of aberrant, single-striped specimens in New South Wales, suggests these two populations still actively interbreed. The genetic study of van der Meer 2012 similarly found evidence for considerable introgression. It’s unknown if the Caledonian A. cf akindynos ever occurs at Lord Howe. It’s also unclear if A. mccullochi occurs at Norfolk Island; while many references indicate this is part of its distribution, there aren’t actually any official records to confirm its presence there.

Aquarium specimens have only recently become available thanks to the efforts of breeders, though they are still quite uncommon and rather expensive.