The Angelfish are some of the most beautiful of all fish. The Emperor Angelfish shown above is probably the best known of the angelfish as it is very colorful and can usually be found in paintings and t-shirts. Angelfish can be distinguished from the very similar butterfly fish by the spine found on the lower gill cover of the angelfish.
Description: Angelfish come in all colors and sizes. They range from 4 inches (10 cm) to 24 inches (60 cm) in the wild. Many angelfish have different coloration as juveniles than they do as adults. Many of the adult angelfish become territorial as they grow older and it is thought that perhaps the different coloration among the younger fish keep them from being the target of the older fish's aggression.
Care and feeding: Most angelfish, except the Pygmies (Centropyge) are sponge and tunicate eaters. This makes them hard to acclimate since these foods are generally not included in prepared fish foods. Angelfish must be willing to accept new foods in their diet in order to survive in an aquarium and are therefore considered difficult to keep. Feeding a large variety of foods is important in order to entice them into eating and once accomplished, they can survive for long periods of time in captivity. As an example, the aquarium in Nancy, France has kept several specimens of angelfish for over 20 years.
Several sponge based frozen foods are now available and should be fed to certain angelfish especially those of the genus Holocanthus. Many of the smaller angels (Centropyge sp.) can be housed in a reef but may become destructive with age.
Notes on Genus/Species: The main genus for angelfish are:
Centropyge: The dwarf angels, rarely get to be over 10 cm. (4 inches) but are very beautiful and adapt well to aquarium life. In the wild they eat mostly algae.
Chaetodontoplus: In the wild they eat mostly sponges and tunicates (sea squirts).
Holocanthus: The King and Queen angelfish are the best known examples of this genus, they generally eat sponges and therefore are more difficult to keep healthy in an aquarium.
Apolemichthys and Pomacanthus: In the wild they eat mostly sponges and tunicates.