Rock Beauty Angelfish
Rock Beauty Angelfish

Rock Beauty Angelfish

Holacanthus tricolor

Regal Angelfish

Holacanthus tricolor is known under several names in English, such as Rocky Beauty Angelfish, Rock Beasty, Corn sugar, Coshubba, and Yellow Nanny.

In addition to being kept by aquarists, this species is also marketed fresh as a food fish. Eating it has however been linked to ciguatera poisoning.

Holacanthus tricolor has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

This species is found in the Western Atlantic. Its geographical range stretches from Georgia, USA, to Bermuda, and thorough the northern Gulf of Mexico all the way down to Santa Catarina in Brazil. It can be found from 36°N to 7°S and from 86°W to 34°W.

The Rocky Beauty Angelfish inhabits rocky reefs, rock jetties and environments with prolific coral growth. Juvenile specimens typically stay near fire corals and are also known to hide inside shells. This is a non-migratory species with a depth range of 3-92 meters / 10-300 feet. The Rocky Beauty Angelfish is diurnal, i.e. it is active during the day and rests during the night.

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Rock Beauty Angelfish was 35.0 cm /13.8 in.

The front of the body and the caudal fin are yellow, while the anterior part of the body is black. The dorsal fin and the front of the anal fin are also black. The front margin of the anal fin and the edge of the gill cover sport a vibrant orange shade, while the upper and lower part of the iris are bright blue.

Young fish are completely yellow, except for a black spot with blue edges that can be seen on the upper side of the body posterior to the midpoint. As the fish grows bigger, the spot will grow larger and eventually become the large black area that covers the posterior part of the body as well as dorsal and anal fins.

Rock Beauty Angelfish care

The Rock Beauty Angelfish is a pretty sensitive creature, especially if not kept on a suitable diet. Even when it eats properly, it is considered moderately difficult to keep.

The Rock Beauty Angelfish will need a 100 gallon / 375 litre aquarium when it reaches a length of 3-4 in / 7.5-10 cm. Regardless of size, this fish needs a well decorated aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, e.g. caves and crevices. Use plenty of live rock, since this will provide the fish with food and give it an opportunity to carry out its natural browsing behaviour in captivity. Macro-algae growth in the aquarium should be encouraged.  

The Rock Beauty Angelfish should not be combined with aggressive fish, such as triggers. Keeping it with other marine angelfish, including members of its own species, is risky due to its territorial predisposition. Deaths can easily occur.  

Keep the specific gravity close to 1.025 and the pH-value in the 8.2-8.4 range. The water temperature should be 75-79 degrees F / 24-26 degrees C.

Feeding Rock Beauty Angelfish

In the wild, the Rock Beauty Angelfish feeds on sponges, tunicates, zoantharians and algae. It has a powerful beak-like mouth with sharp outer teeth.

If you wish to keep Rock Beauty Angelfish, it is best to keep it in an aquarium filled with plenty of live rock, preferably from the Western Atlantic. As mentioned above, macro-algae growth in the aquarium should also be encouraged. 

If the growth of suitable food is too slow in the aquarium, you can supplement it with opened clams, oysters, mussels and similar. It is also a good idea to include algae based food in the diet and sea food preparations that contain vegetables, e.g. shrimps mixed with spinach. If you’re lucky, an oriental shop or health food store in your area will sell sponge and sea-squirt products intended for human consumption. Specialized aquarium shops will also sell angel formula with sponge in it. It is very important to keep the diet varied.

The Rock Beauty Angelfish is a browsing species that spends a lot of time searching for food. It is therefore better to give it several small servings of food instead of just one or two large portions each day.

Breeding Rock Beauty Angelfish

The Rock Beauty Angelfish is a synchrononous protogynous hermaphrodite. Young specimens are always female and have the capacity to change into males when they get older. Some specimens will change, others stay female.

Rock Beauty Angelfishes fishes form breeding harems consisting of one male and several females. The harem is often spread out over a large area, up to a few hundred square yards. (100 square yards = 84 square meters.)  The male fish is large, typically 8 in / 20 cm or more in length, and therefore not as common in the aquarium trade as females. You can recognize him on his “taller” head and heavier body.

During spawning, a male and a female fish will slowly swim upwards with their bellies close to each other. Spawning typically takes place in the evening. The female will release her eggs into the water and the male will fertilize them. She can release 25,000 to 75,000 transparent eggs per spawning, and since she can spawn every night for many days in a row the total number of eggs per spawning cycle can exceed 10 million.

The eggs are floating and will be swept away by currents. They normally hatch within 15-20 hours and the emerging offspring has no functional eyes, gut or fins yet. It is attached to a large yolk sac and will absorb nutrition from it for the common 48 hours and use the energy to develop into a functional larva. When the yolk sac has been devoured, the larva is large enough to eat plankton. If provided with sufficient nutrition, the fish will be 15-20 mm long after 3-4 weeks by which time it settles on the bottom.

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
Rusty Angelfish – Centropyge ferrugata
Watanabe's Angelfish – Genicanthus watanabei


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