7 Types of Saltwater Angelfish (Pomacanthidae Family)

7 Types of Saltwater Angelfish (Pomacanthidae Family)

The common characteristic of marine angelfish fish is the spine on each of their gill covers. This family includes both modestly sized fish and species worthy of a place in a public aquarium. The former include the dwarf, or pygmy, angelfish (from the Centropyge genus), which barely exceed 5 inches (12.5 cm) in length.

The latter boast some of the most majestic of all saltwater aquarium fish. The juveniles’ coloring is often very different from that of the adults, often leading to confusion over their names. Some species are fussy feeders and can be difficult to acclimatize. No species from this family has been known to reproduce in an aquarium.

Bicolor Angelfish – Centropyge Bicolor

One of the most common angelfish; its coloring is unmistakable.

Size5 in. (12.5 cm)
OriginThe area between Malaysia, Japan, and northwest Australia
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen foods, dried food
Bicolor Angelfish

This is a peaceful, even timid dwarf species when faced with other fish, but it can be aggressive toward members of its own species. It will thrive in a minimum 55-gallon (210 L) aquarium furnished with plenty of hideaways. A related species, Centropyge argi (cherub angelfish), found in the Caribbean, is smaller, and only the front part of its body is yellow.

Flame Angelfish – Centropyge Loricula

This fish owes its name to its vivid red coloring.

Size4 in. (10 cm)
OriginPhilippines, Marshall Islands, Hawaii
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen food, dried food
Flame Angelfish Centropyge Loricula

The flame angelfish treats all other fish with equanimity, apart from those of its own species. It appreciates hiding places between blocks of coral and water that is well aerated and filtered. It will graze on the green algae that may sometimes appear on the rockscape.

Coral Beauty Angelfish – Centropyge Bispinosa

This fish cohabits placidly with fish of the same size, apart from those of its own species.

Size5 in. (12.5 cm)
OriginSouth Africa, Indian and Pacific Oceans
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen food, dried food
Coral Beauty Angelfish - Centropyge Bispinosa

This is a hardy fish that is easy to rear and generally safe with invertebrates like starfish in your tank. Adult coloring varies, but the dark vertical bands are always very pronounced.

Emperor Angelfish – Pomacanthus Imperator

This is one of the most beautiful and majestic of all angelfish.

Size12 in. (30 cm)
OriginRed Sea, Indian and Pacific Oceans
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen food, plants, dried food
Emperor Angelfish

This fish is highly territorial and behaves aggressively toward other angelfish, although it is relatively sociable with other species. It requires a tank of at least 105 gallons (400 L), furnished with hiding places and filed with well-filtered and aerated water. Depending on its origin, its dorsal fin is round or pointed, and its caudal fin yellow or orange. The juveniles are dark blue with white, sometimes circular, marks. Juveniles adapt to captivity more easily than adults.

Koran Angelfish – Pomacanthus Semicirculatus

Neither juveniles nor adults tolerate members of their own species.

Size10 in. (25 cm)
OriginRed Sea, Indian and Pacific Oceans
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen foods (particularly worms and mussels), dried food

It is easier to acclimatize the juveniles as they willingly accept live food. Their dark blue bodies are marked with broken, white circular bands (setting them apart from Pomacanthus imperator). The adults are dark brown; the white bands gradually disappear over time. They do best in an aquarium with plenty of nooks and crannies so they can establish their territory. These fish leave their shelter to eat.

Regal (Royal) Angelfish – Pygoplites Diacanthus

The young have a dark patch behind the dorsal fin.

Size20 in. (50 cm)
OriginRed Sea, Indian Oceans
Fish per aquarium1
DietSponges, small live and frozen food, worms
Regal (Royal) Angelfish - Pygoplites Diacanthus

This fish cannot bear the presence of other angelfish in its territory. However, it is sociable toward other species. It is difficult to acclimatize, as its diet in the wild is based on sponges. Patience is therefore required in offering a range of substitutes, especially live brine shrimp. The young are easier to acclimatize, but they are timid and need plenty of hideaways.

Queen Angelfish- Holacanthus Ciliaris

This fish lives alone and is aggressive toward other angelfish.

Size12 in. (30 cm)
OriginCaribbean, tropical Atlantic Ocean
Fish per aquarium1
DietSmall live and frozen food, mussels ,worms, plants.
Queen Angelfish- Holacanthus Ciliaris

An aquarium furnished with coral or rocks, complete with hideaways, helps this fish to adapt and enables it to mark out its territory. Although it is aggressive toward other angelfish, it respects other species. The juveniles acclimatize fairly easily and enjoy a varied diet; they particularly appreciate live food and algae. Juveniles sport three bluish vertical bands on their flanks and two more around the eye, which disappear when they reach maturity. A closely related species, Holcicanthus tricolor (rock beauty angelfish), is more difficult to keep in an aquarium: it is vital to introduce them into the tank while they are still juveniles.

Sean B.

Hi, My name is Sean. I’m blogging mostly about freshwater and saltwater aquariums, fish, invertebrates, and plants.