Reef Safe (Kinda) Angelfish: What are your favorites & how did they do long term?

BRS

Have you ever had a Angelfish in your reef tank?

  • Yes and it was a model citizen (tell us which one)

    Votes: 197 33.7%
  • Yes but it did nip from time to time

    Votes: 84 14.4%
  • Yes but I had to remove it because it went rogue

    Votes: 34 5.8%
  • No but I would like to try one

    Votes: 168 28.7%
  • No and not interested

    Votes: 83 14.2%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 19 3.2%

  • Total voters
    585

RSnodgrass

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Ol' Gunther the yellow mask/Blueface is my favorite...
CollageMaker_20201103_174121474.jpg


As far as large angels go he's a model citizen a year in, in that it's tasted everything but killed nothing.

I've never had a dwarf that didn't nip a bunch except in certain circumstances.

Things that helped me:
1) a dominant fish that keeps them on their toes and moving about the tank. Or enough subservient fish to chase and assert dominance over.

2) nori in a clip that makes it hard for them to get it all at once, they go back to it all day long to try and get the last bits.

3) a place to put corals that suddenly become objects of affection. If they de-stress and stop giving off slime, etc. from being attacked the angel often will leave alone when reintroduced to a new spot.

4) corals that are larger than frags will help tolerate the blows better and potentially stimulate new tip growth from the abuse on sps.
 

Wen

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Diversity of Form | Angelfish in the Reef Aquarium

Angelfish are becoming more popular in reefs, but they are still labeled by the masses as “Not Reef Safe”. Some Angels can cause damage in reef tanks and very few can resist the fleshy tissue of corals such as Trachyphyllia, however, given the proper tank these amazing fish can be housed safely in reef aquariums maintained by seasoned aquarists.

If you are considering any risky reef fish, it’s imperative you have the ability to remove it should it develop a taste for something that you are not willing to sacrifice.

Angels can be aggressive, and care must be taken when introducing multiple angels of similar shape. In the wild they are commonly found solitary or in pairs, rarely in groups. In captivity they will generally fight with members of their own species. If you plan on keeping multiple Angels be sure to have the means to net out established Angels while new specimens adjust. Although not commonly discussed, in my experience multiple angels can sometimes act as a benefit. Instead of focusing on corals, they become more interest in what the other angel’s are up to… I’ll touch on this later.

The main Genera:
  • Centropyge
  • Paracentropyge
  • Apolemichthys
  • Chaetodontoplus
  • Holacanthus
  • Pomacanthus
    • Euxiphops (Subgenus)
  • Genicanthus
  • Pygoplites

In my experience Holacanthus angels are the worse, such as Queens and Passers. With the recent importation of Clarions some are keeping them in reefs, but it’s highly likely they will do damage.

In my experience and others, these are some species with above average success rates in reefs:

Scientific Name Common Name
  • P. imperator Emperor Angel
  • P. asfur Asfur Angel
  • E. xanthometapon Blueface Angel
  • E. narvachus Majestic Angel
  • P. diacanthus Regal Angel
  • G. watanabei Watanbe Angel
  • A. xanthopuctatus Goldflake Angel
  • C. joculator Joculator Pygmy Angel
This is not an exclusive list, but ones that have been kept by multiple hobbyists with minimal damage. Each fish is unique, and as said above it can be a gamble.

Angels generally have the best success in SPS dominated systems. SPS corals have the ability to retract polyps; polyp extension (PE) maybe limited during the day, however, I have not seen or heard of any negative effects from this. In fact, you rarely see polyp extension in the wild for this reason. I also find most sps look better with limited PE as it allows more pigments in the tissue to be seen.

When looking at potential specimens for purchase, select interactive individuals. Compared to other fish, Angels are very intelligent and should respond to your presence. Also, ensure it is feeding on prepared foods before taking it home. A well fed angel is less likely to taste corals. Ideally smaller juvenile fish are best. They are easier to “train” whereas mature fish can be stubborn to adjust to captive life.

I have a theory on “Non Reef Safe” fish such as Angelfish. As Humans we tend to eat when we are bored, even if we just ate. I know I do…if nothing is going on in my life that means it’s time for a snack. I’ve found this to be true for Angels and Butterflies as well. Even if you just fed them, if they are bored their curiosity compels them to try a polyp or two out. Not for survival reasons, but for entertaining. Other times it’s as if they punish you for not giving them enough attention…

Here are a few ways to curve this behavior and keep your Angels and other risky fish “entertained”:

Strong Intermittent Flow – Strong random currents keep fish constantly moving and forced to focus on their surroundings and positioning. Not only is this good for your corals, it gives angels less of an opportunity to “study” a coral before taking a bite.

Varied Diet – As I said above a well fed Angel is less likely to taste a coral. Just as important as the amount of food, is the type. Frozen foods are best, also look into Selco to supplement. Feed them 3+ times a day with a balanced diet of meats and greens. Angels can suffer from HILLE and blindness if nutritional needs are not met. Nori (Dried Seaweed) is also great “entertaining” food and a few brands even offer Angel formula frozen foods incorporating sponge to mimic their natural diet.

Dither Fish - A well stocked tank is a social tank. Angelfish are very intelligent and love to be the boss of any reef aquarium. By having other fish that can cause annoyances such as Chromis, Anthias, Tangs, Butterflies and other Angels, it will keep them on there toes. As stated above, be careful mixing Angelfish and leave it the experienced hobbyists.

We have recently experience this once with our Declivis Butterfly. Since the introduction of our P.imperator the C. declivis has stopped eating polyps all together.


If you’re willing to sacrifice some polyp extension on your acros and perhaps some nibbling on your zoanthids, take another look at these beautiful fish. Their striking coloration is paired with a great personality.
Excellent write up, thank you.

Emperor is my favorite.

Got one size of a silver dollar and its 6” now. Lives in mixed reef 280gal.
Eats trachys, samples palys and can’t leave hammers alone. Ignores sps, zoanthids and torches.
He has a big personality and a bark to back it up. I feed a mixed diet, 5+x day, change up flow pattern, tank mates are active and he does like to investigate anything new added to the tank.

You don’t want a bored or starving emp.
Photo of yesterday’s distraction.
C4629E54-BCAA-4081-A017-73EEC16F3E9F.jpeg
 
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albano

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He has a big personality and a bark to back it up.
By ‘bark’ are you referring to the grunt sound that Emps can make?
In the ‘80s I had a large Emperor in one of my office tanks.,, whenever I walked into the office he would make his loud ‘grunt’… not sure if he was saying ‘hello’ or ‘FEED ME’!
 

tamanning

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My coral beauty passes the day picking off pods from the rock and the glass he gets close to my corals but I have never seen him pick at a coral.
 

RSnodgrass

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Excellent write up, thank you.

Emperor is my favorite.

Got one size of a silver dollar and its 6” now. Lives in mixed reef 280gal.
Eats trachys, samples palys and can’t leave hammers alone. Ignores sps, zoanthids and torches.
He has a big personality and a bark to back it up. I feed a mixed diet, 5+x day, change up flow pattern, tank mates are active and he does like to investigate anything new added to the tank.

You don’t want a bored or starving emp.
Photo of yesterday’s distraction.
C4629E54-BCAA-4081-A017-73EEC16F3E9F.jpeg
The Jaws theme played in my head... couldn't help it
 

atomos

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1. What is your favorite "mostly reef safe" angelfish?
Flame, Coral Beauty, Regal Angelfish

2. What "mostly reef safe" angelfish have you had that went rogue?
Pgymy

3. What are some tips for keeping a "mostly reef safe" angelfish from eating your coral?
Luck and plenty of food options (Nori....etc.)
 

carbasaurus

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Happy to hear this.... my first about 15 years ago lasted about 3 months unfortunately, decided to dive back in on one quarantined through my most trusted LFS, back in December, and was super nervous with similar species / genus Coral Beauty. It was bully time for first few days, and decided to go almost complete black next few days... it worked. This fish is first to the dinner plate now and a pleasure to watch. The orange eye rings, some green /red and powder blue tail markings are striking... my fave fish, underrated imo..here she be btw...
20210618_232720.jpg
Mine is currently sharing a tank with a lemonpeel. Unfortunately they are not a bonded pair (no Tigerpyge babies for me!) the lemonpeel will harass him but he has plenty of bolt holes and is doing ok Interestingly he darkened his colors which I think helps him stay secretive with the bully lemonpeel.
 

carbasaurus

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Potters, killed super cool pocillopora eydouxi I had but left everything else alone. Had him about 8 years.
Lamark was a model citizen.
11 years with a Regal and he has left SPS, clams, and LPS alone.
The potters chowing on the poicillopora is interesting. Hawaii reefs are heavily poicillopora dominant at least from what I have seen snorkeling. Makes sense that they would nip away at their home town cuisine!
 

CanuckReefer

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Mine is currently sharing a tank with a lemonpeel. Unfortunately they are not a bonded pair (no Tigerpyge babies for me!) the lemonpeel will harass him but he has plenty of bolt holes and is doing ok Interestingly he darkened his colors which I think helps him stay secretive with the bully lemonpeel.
Interesting you have managed to have it succeed with the two same genus centropyge as well Congrats....Everything I heard said NO!!! First couple days I thought they were right... 3 days later....

20210620_005732.jpg
 

CanuckReefer

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The potters chowing on the poicillopora is interesting. Hawaii reefs are heavily poicillopora dominant at least from what I have seen snorkeling. Makes sense that they would nip away at their home town cuisine!
If I could find a poicillopora here for a decent price, heck, just one period I would jump at it, for some reason they are rare...one fella in Alberta has colonies but its a small fortune to have them shipped. Local LFS in Toronto has none, ever...
 

mwilk19

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I have a captive bred Singapore Angel that I've had for almost 4 years. He's been pretty good. The only thing he decimated were Acans. I've also stayed away from clams as I'm sure he'd feast on those.
 

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Frizzy reefnewb

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1. What is your favorite "mostly reef safe" angelfish?

fir me: flame angel and surprisingly coral beauty angel

2. What "mostly reef safe" angelfish have you had that went rogue?
None.
My nightmares were passer angel

3. What are some tips for keeping a "mostly reef safe" angelfish from eating your coral?

Keep them fed and in a heavily stocked tank where their concern is more with neighbors than coral
Are you saying add another fish to keep my flame angel occupied? Bc my flame angel is so red in color beautiful but he is nipping at my corals think it’s a problem
 

chrisletize

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Trio of Flames , 4 years, no issues. Pair of Spot Breast, 4 years no issues. 6" Emperor, raised from 2" juv., 5 years, no issues, 4" Annularis, raised from 1 1/2 juv., 5 years. No issues. 7" Blue Queen hybrid, a number of issues, samples anything, been with me almost 10 years, can eat whatever she wants, does not touch my gold wall hammer. large stand of purple stylo, or a 100 plus head duncan. Everything else is on the menu
I was wondering if anyone was gonna be bold enough to attempt an queen angelfish lol. That would be a dream combination of a fish with corals for me, I’ve only ever had one in a fowlr about 15 years ago. I would absolutely LOVE to see if anyone else has had any success in that realm. I have had success in a reef with cherub angels only, and would like to attempt flame and regal angels in the near future
 
BRS

Have you ever had a reef tank with no sump and how did it go?

  • YES and it was just fine

    Votes: 66 56.4%
  • YES but it was difficult

    Votes: 23 19.7%
  • NO

    Votes: 25 21.4%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 3 2.6%
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