Potter's Angelfish
Potter's Angelfish

Potter's Angelfish

Centropyge potteri

Potter's Angelfish
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The fish species Centropyge potteri is known under several different English common names, including Potter's angelfish, Potter's angel, Potter's pygmy angelfish, Russet angelfish,

The name potteri was given in honour of Frederick A. Potter (1874-1961), first director of the Hawaiian Waikiki Aquarium.  

Centropyge potteri has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Potter's angelfish is endemic to Hawaii and the Johnston Atoll in the Eastern Central Pacific. It inhabits coral, rock, and rubble environments of seaward reefs from a depth of 5 m / 16 ft down to 138 m / 453 ft. In the upper parts of the depth range (around 5 m / 16 ft) you can only find juvenile fish. Adult specimens live at depths of at least 10 m / 33 ft.

This is a day-active species that live in pairs or small groups consisting of one male and several females. It prefers clear water and is commonly found under ledges or on reef slopes with plenty of holes to seek shelter in. It is known to rapidly dark from one safe spot to another. They pick a territory and stay there, and the male fish will defend his group from other males of the same species. Fish from other species are allowed to enter the territory, even species that feed on algae just like Potter's angelfish.

Size and appearance

The larges scientifically measured Potter's angelfish was 10.0 cm / 3.9 in.

Potter's angelfish is bright to rusty orange and body, head and fins are all decorated with numerous close-set, thin, vertical gray-blue lines. On the lower side, the orange darkens and becomes bluish black. A bright blue margin can be seen on dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. Pectoral and pelvic fins are orange or bright yellow.

Some individuals are significantly darker than others and a blue-and-black colour variant exists.

For information about how to sex Potter's angelfish, please go to the breeding section.

Potter's angelfish care

This is a non-aggressive, curious and alert fish that should not be kept with aggressive species. It is only recommended for well established aquariums and is not a suitable fish for novice marine aquarists. Do not house it with members of its own species or other dwarf angels. It is however possible to house a compatible pair together.

It is not advisable to house Potter's angelfish in an aquarium smaller than 75 gallons / 285 litres. The aquarium must contain a lot of suitable hiding spots, because Potter's angelfish likes to stay near a safe spot all the time. Include a lot of crevices in the set-up. Coral skeletons and live stony coral are known to be appreciated.  

This is not really considered a reef safe fish, because it will nibble on coral. It can also harm anemones, featherdusters, and shellfish (including clams). It should however be noted that the survival rate for this species will increase significantly when it is kept in a reef system, or at least in an aquarium with plenty of live rock and algae. Potter's angelfish is very sensitive when newly introduced to an aquarium and it can take considerable time before it starts eating. Having naturally occurring food in the aquarium will make the transition easier. Avoid housing it with species that will compete with it for food.

Keep the water temperature in the 24-28° C / 75-82° F range, the pH-value from 8.1 to 8.4, and the specific gravity at 1.022-1.026.

Feeding Potter's angelfish

In the wild, Potter's angelfish feeds primarily on algae and detritus. It is however an opportunistic and inquisitive fish and it is for instance known to nibble at coral. In the wild, it has been observed cleaning algae from turtles.

Naturally occurring algae growth should be encouraged in the aquarium and you should also allow detritus to accumulate, since this makes it possible for the fish to carry out its natural feeding behaviour. Supplement naturally occurring algae and detritus with fresh and dried marine algae, spirulina, angelfish formula, and small zooplanktonic organisms.

When newly introduced to the aquarium, it can take a lot of time before Potter's angelfish commence eating.

Breeding Potter's angelfish

Potter's angelfish is an orange fish where the orange colour darkens to bluish-black on much of the lower side. In males, this dark area is much larger than in females. A fish that displays plenty of orange color is therefore normally a female. Another difference between males and females is that the males have more blue on their fins and more elongated bodies.

Potter's angelfish is a egg-laying synchronous protogynic hermaphrodite, just like the other members of its genus.

In the wild, the busiest period for reproduction occurs from mid-December through May. Spawning will take place at dusk during the week before a full moon, usually over the highest outcropping of rock or coral in their territory. The male fish will approach the female and encourage her to follow him by swimming in a characteristic fashion and keeping his fins erect. He will also flutter his pectoral fins. During courtship, both sexes will display more intense colours than normally and communicate with each other using clicks and grunts.

During the actual spawning, the male fish will swim up under the female and she will release her eggs. This will trigger the male to release his sperm and the eggs will be promptly fertilized. The eggs are buoyant and will join the planktons of the ocean.

After spawning, the reclusive Potter's angelfish will head for shelter as fast as possible; it doesn’t like to stay exposed out in the open water any longer than necessary.

As far as we know, Potter's angelfish has not yet been bred in aquariums.

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
Queen Angelfish – Holacanthus ciliaris
Regal Angelfish – Pygoplites diacanthus
Rock Beauty Angelfish – Holacanthus tricolor
Rusty Angelfish – Centropyge ferrugata
Watanabe's Angelfish – Genicanthus watanabei


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