Marine angelfish
Marine angelfish

Marine angelfish

Marine angelfish

Marine angelfish is found in family Pomacanthidae in the order Perciformes. The family currently contains 74 descried species divided into several different genera. Read more about marine angelfish genera.

Marine angelfish is only found in the ocean, never in freshwater or brackish environments. A lot of the species are popular among marine aquarists. Some of the largest species are sold as food fish, but they have been linked to ciguatera poisoning.

The native home of the marine angelfish is tropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and (chiefly western) Pacific. Marine angelfish inhabits shallow waters and prefer to stay near coral reefs. They can venture down to a dept of 50 meters (164 feet) but will normally go no deeper than 20 meters (66 feet). The recently described species Centropyge abei is an exception and has been found 150 meters (almost 500 feet) down in the ocean.  

The marine angelfish is easily recognized on its strongly compressed body. In many specimens, there is an elongate extension on the hind margin of the soft dorsal and anal fins. The caudal fin is rounded or crescent-shaped. The mouth is small and the pectoral fins comparatively big. A majority of the species can become around 20-30 cm (7.8-11.8 inches) long as adults. The largest species of marine angelfish is the Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) which can be 60 cm (almost 2 feet) long. The smallest marine angelfishes are found in the genus Centropyge; these fishes do not exceed 15 cm (6 inchs) in length.

Marine angelfish are famous for their prominent colouration. In many species, the colouration will change as juveniles mature into adult fish. The colour shifts are also believed to be linked to the social rank of each individual fish.     

Marine angelfish are pelagic spawners and do not guard their offspring. All the species where breeding habits have been researched have turned out to be protogynous hermaphrodites. Some species form pairs while others live in harems consisting of one male and several females. If the male is removed from the harem, one of the females will turn into a male fish.

During breeding, the angelfish female will release a myriad of tiny eggs into the water and the male will fertilize them. The eggs are buoyant and will intermingle with the plankton and follow the currents of the sea.

Before you purchase marine angelfish for your aquarium it is important to find out which type of diet your particular species needs. The species of the genus Genicanthus will for instance feed chiefly on zooplankton in the wild, while the members of Centropyge get most of their nutrients from filamentous algae. There are also species that feed on fish eggs, sponges, tunicates, bryozoans, hydroids, and/or various sessile benthic invertebrates. Juvenile angelfish will sometimes work as cleaning fish in the ocean, i.e. they will remove parasites from other fish.

Species with very particular feeding requirements must have these requirements met in the aquarium, otherwise they will starve. In the wild, the Angelfish is active during the day and will stay hidden in caves and crevices during the night. It is therefore best to feed angelfish when the lights are on in the aquarium.  

Freshwater angelfish are not closely related to the marine angelfish. Freshwater angelfish are cichlids native to the tropical Amazon region of South America and they belong to the genus Pterophyllum in the cichlid family.

Marine Angelfish Articles:

African Flameback Angelfish – Centropyge acanthops
Asfur Angelfish – Pomacanthus asfur
Bicolor Angelfish – Centropyge bicolor
Blueface Angelfish – Pomacanthus xanthometopon
Cherub Angelfish – Centropyge argi
Coral Beauty – Centropyge bispinosa
Emperor Angelfish – Pomacanthus imperator
Flame Angelfish – Centropyge loricula
French Angelfish – Pomacanthus paru
Herald's Angelfish – Centropyge heraldi
Koran Angelfish – Pomacanthus semicirculatus
Lamarck's Angelfish – Genicanthus lamarack
Potter's Angelfish – Centropyge potteri
Queen Angelfish – Holacanthus ciliaris
Regal Angelfish – Pygoplites diacanthus
Rock Beauty Angelfish – Holacanthus tricolor
Rusty Angelfish – Centropyge ferrugata
Watanabe's Angelfish – Genicanthus watanabe


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