Angelfish Scientific Classification
Main PreySponges, algaeGroup Behavior
Fun Fact95% of angelfish eat spongesEstimated Population SizeUnknownBiggest ThreatWater pollutionMost Distinctive FeatureBrightly colored scalesGestation Period1-3 daysWater Type
Optimum pH Level6.5 – 7.2HabitatCoral reefsPredatorsLarger fish, barracudas, sharksDietOmnivoreFavorite FoodFishTypePerciformesCommon NameAngelfishNumber Of Species90SloganThere are 70 different species!
Angelfish Physical Characteristics
Skin TypeScalesLifespanUp to 15 yearsWeightUp to 2 poundsLength8 to 12 inches
3 Incredible Angelfish Facts!
- Changing Colors: One of the most interesting facts about these fish is it changes colors as it gets older. For instance, a young angelfish’s black stripes may fade into yellow ones as it ages. Health, nutrition, and breeding activities can also bring on changes in color.
- Female Changes to Male: Angelfish are known as protogynous hermaphrodites. This means a female change into a male at a certain point in her life.
- A Pancake Shape: The body of an angelfish is flat and thin like a pancake. This allows them to slip through the crevices and narrow holes in a coral reef. They can escape a predator this way or access algae or other plant life for nourishment.
Angelfish Classification and Scientific Name
The scientific name of a marine angelfish is Pomacanthidae. The word Pomacanthidae is Greek meaning ‘cover thorn.’ This refers to the spiny growth that all angelfish have on their bodies. The spiny growth may be on its head or near its tailfin.
It belongs to the Pomacanthidae family and the class Actinopterygii.
Some of the species include:
- Emperor angelfish
- Queen angelfish
- French angelfish
- Blue angelfish
There are 90 species of these fish. Their family is divided into 7 genera.
- Emporer angelfish: This fish is one of the bigger species at 15.75 inches long. Adults are easy to recognize due to their vibrant blue and yellow stripes. It eats sponges and algae from on and around coral reefs.
- Queen angelfish: This fish, sometimes called the Blue Queen, is another large species measuring 18 inches in length. They can be blue or blue and yellow in color. Sponges are the main diet of this fish. It eats jellyfish as well.
- French angelfish: A French angelfish is black with distinctive rings of yellow around its eyes. It lives on coral reefs in the eastern region of the Caribbean. As with most species, sponges are the main diet of this fish.
These fish can be red, blue, green, black, or yellow, or a combination of these colors. Some marine angelfish have scales with swirling colorful patterns, others have stripes while others are mostly solid in color. They have a thin, flat body with curved dorsal and anal fins. They have feathery pectoral fins along with dark eyes and a small mouth. All angelfish have a thorn or a spiny growth, somewhere on their body. In fact, their scientific name Pomacanthidae is Greek for cover thorn.
Most angelfish are 8 to 12 inches long and weigh up to 2 pounds. Of course, there are some species that are smaller or larger. For instance, koi angelfish grow to be just 6 inches long. The largest species is the gray angelfish. This fish measures 24 inches in length and can weigh up to 4 pounds!
The thin, flat body of the fish allows it to slip into hard-to-reach places which can help it to escape some of its predators. Plus, most of these fish feature brilliant colors so you would think they would be easy for predators to spot. However, they’re able to blend in with the brightly colored rocks, algae, and other features in their coral reef habitat.
Angelfish Distribution, Population and Habitat
These fish are found in the Indian, Atlantic, and western Pacific Oceans. They live in a warm, saltwater habitat and don’t migrate. You can find them in shallow water near coral reefs in the Caribbean. The Belize Barrier Reef, Great Barrier Reef, and the New Caledonian Barrier Reef are a few of the places where these fish live. They aren’t known to dive deeper than 160 feet.
The exact population of these fish is unknown. However, most species have a conservation status of Least Concern with a stable population. The Emporer, the Yellow, the French and Blueface angelfish are a few species with that designation.
The Bluespotted angelfish is one exception with a conservation status of Data Deficient. Habitat destruction is the reason for the low population of this fish.
Angelfish Predators and Prey
These fish are omnivores. Sponges are their main diet. They also eat algae and small pieces of shrimp. Some larger species such as the Queen angelfish eat bigger types of prey like jellyfish. These fish hunt during the day time and hide in the coral reef at night where it’s safe.
What eats angelfish?
What do angelfish eat?
The conservation status of most species is Least Concern with a stable population.
Angelfish Reproduction and Lifespan
These fish spawn in the winter season. They are polygynous (have multiple partners). The male flaps its pectoral fins to attract females. A male usually has a group of 4 females, also called a harem, to mate with. One of the most amazing facts about an angelfish is if a male leaves a harem of females, one of the females changes into a male and takes his role.
After mating, a female lays at least 500 eggs. Some species lay more. The Queen angelfish can release 75,000 eggs! The eggs float in the water for 1 to 3 days until they hatch into larvae. Larvae survive on algae and plankton as they grow into adult fish.
Though the larvae are clear, they are vulnerable to being eaten by small or large fish passing by. This is why angelfish have such a large number of eggs. So, at least some are likely to survive into adulthood. The mother and father are not involved with their young once they are released as eggs.
Sexual maturity is reached between 6 and 12 months of age. The lifespan of an angelfish is up to 15 years.
Angelfish in Fishing and Cooking
These fish are not a major target of commercial fishermen. However, they are sometimes caught and sold to pet stores and breeders. Some fish hobbyists like to put them in their tropical aquariums at home. They are colorful additions to aquariums in businesses, too.
These fish are not a popular item for people to eat, but some people consume them. They are known to carry parasites and bacteria that could be harmful to someone who eats one.