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Marine angelfish

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Marine angelfish
Angel fish.jpg
Scientific Classification

Marine Angelfish are a taxonomic family of reef fish known as Pomacathidae with 86 different species identified. They are considered a kind of perciform fish which means perch-like. They are mainly found in the reefs of the tropical Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific Ocean. They are best known for their colorful bodies, and the beauty they bring to the ocean.


The Angelfish are made up of streamer-like extensions and a soft dorsal and fins. Their mouths tend to be very small, while they have large pectoral fins and round lunate tail fins. The largest species is the gray angelfish. This fish can reach up to 60 centimeters in length, leaving the average angelfish at 20-30 centimeters long. The largest species of angelfish is very bold and fearless. Many times they will approach divers with no fear. Other Angelfish like to stay near the shallow reefs and not exceed anything more then 50 meters deep. Some species like to be solitary but are extremely territorial. As for the other Angelfish they like to travel in groups called harems. A single male is dominant over the females and when he dies a female or other male will take his place. Juveniles serve as a cleaner fish until they becomes adults. In certain species, young male fish may be identified by broad, black bands as compared to the females with the thinner stripes. As the male matures however, their color turns to a bright orange that develops on their flanks and back.


Reproduction is done by spawning. You can tell that it is about to happen by the way the pair's genital papillae looks. The are projected when ready. They are often called ovipositors which means "egg-placer". The pair will select a spot for the spawning to take place and thoroughly clean it a couple days prior to the actual mating procedure. The female makes a few test runs which involves her ventral fins/feelers close to her lower side of her abdomen and then her anal fin will be in such a place that her entire body ends up in a straight line. This helps the male to have full contact with the ovipositor. The male will too have a few practice runs, doing the same things as the female. When the spawning takes place, the female will pass over the spot chosen and cleaned prior to the event, and deposit her eggs. The male then goes in and fertilizes them. Together the male and female will take turns going over the spawning spot and depositing more eggs, and fertilizing. It will end when several hundred eggs are laid. This greatly depends on the size of the female and her ability to produce many eggs. The eggs will then float away and become part of the plankton until hatched. [1]

Many Angelfish are known as protogynous hermaphrodites. This means that when life begins, they are female. When matured they become male. Angelfish travel in groups that contain one male leader, and about two to five female fish. So when the leader is removed, a female will then develop into a male and take the prior male's position.


juvenile Emperor Angelfish

There are many different kinds of marine angelfish. Many are classified into species, classes, and genus'. The most common are:

  • Apolemichthys- this contains the flagfin and the golden spotted angelfish. They can be as big as six to eight inches in length. They often feed on benthic invertebrates such as sponges.
  • Centropyge- known as the "dwarf Angelfish" they can grow as big as three inches and feed on filamentous algae, and small invertebrates. The flame angelfish gets as big as four inches and feeds on algae.
  • Genicanthus- for this particular genus there is a noticeable difference between the male and female fish, whereas for the other species it is difficult to tell. They often feed on plankton. These fish like to travel in open water, while the other Angelfish prefer to stay close to a reef.

Many common Angelfish you may see at the aquarium or in movies are:

  • Emperor Angelfish- Known as one of the most beautiful marine fish in the waters. The juvenile version of this fish is recognized by its dark colors and concentric patterns of white lines. The adult has a bright yellow caudal fin and a body that is yellow with pale blue-grey lines that cross the body diagonally. Its anal fin and head are dark and the edges are covered in blue. The mouth is outlined in a creamy white color.
  • Flame Angelfish- One of the smallest angelfish known. Its body is deep and lateral with an orange color. The fins match this pattern and add its own detail with a black lining on the tips. Four dark vertical bands are on the body, while the caudal fin fades from yellow to white which makes it almost transparent.
  • French Angelfish- This fish is fairly large and has a deep body. Its color fades when maturing. Juveniles for this particular fish are also well defined. They are black with five yellow bars on the body. The adult tends to be gray with one to two white vertical bands, and a white mouth.
  • Regal Angelfish- This fish's body is shaped with yellow, white, and purple vertical bands going across the body. The nose and caudal fin are covered in bright yellow colors, and the rear dorsal fin is dark purple.


Gray angelfish

All angelfish are sorted into a color category. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Silver- The body is white with four dark bars crossing the body vertically. The first stripe passes through the eye. The second strip crosses the top of both the top and bottom fin. The third passes through the the center of the top and bottom fin. The fourth stripe begins at the tail fin. Some of the silver angelfish have spots on their bodies.
  • Zebra- is very closely related to the silver fish. The only difference is, the Zebras have more stripes which go from head to fin, in a steady pattern.
  • Black Lace- This fish is also closely related to the Silver fish. The one main difference is the intensity of the colors. Especially on the fins, there is a black so black that it gives the visual effect of black lace. These fish are very fragile and cannot survive in free living waters.
  • Black- These fish's colors match their category. They are a solid velvety black color and when mated with the black lace you can expect offspring with 50% black and 50% black lace.
  • Half Black- for these fish their bodies are half white (in the front) and half black (in the back)
  • Veiltail- come in a variety of colors
  • Marble- Consists of having a broken pattern of black and silver. In the head and back, you will see undertones of gold while the fins have black and white rays.
  • Golden- this category may range from a solid silvery white, to a solid golden coloring. The head and back are usually a gold color.
  • Blushing- These fish have a red cheeked area with a white body. They are one of the most delicate Angelfish known.
  • Pearl Scale- They have a bumpy, rough skin and may come into a variety of colors.


Related References

See Also