Emperor Angelfish: Species Profile – How to Create a Happy Home for Your Pet.

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  • properties
  • origin
  • Colors and markings
  • Tank mates
  • care
  • Diet and feeding
  • Sexual differences
  • breed
  • Further research

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The colorful emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) is a living addition to your saltwater aquarium. These aggressive fish love to graze on many invertebrates and take up a lot of space, but this impressive fish will add a bold contrast to your fish collection. Observing the amazing color transition from juvenile to adult animal makes this fish a unique marine fish and an unforgettable experience for many fish keepers.

Species overview

Common names: Emperor Angelfish

Scientific name: Pomacanthus imperator

Adult size: Up to 12 inches

Life expectancy: 12 to 13 years


family Pomacanthidae
origin Indo-Pacific
Social Half aggressive
Tank level Every level
Minimum Tank size 175 gallons
diet Omnivore
breed No successful offspring
care Intermediate to advanced
pH 8.1-8.4
hardness Moderately hardy
temperature 22-25 ° C

Origin and Distribution

Angelfish are found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, including the Red Sea, East Africa, Japan, the Great Barrier Reef, and New Caledonia. Sightings have also been reported in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Florida, most likely due to an improper release in captivity. Remember, when you buy one you are responsible for the life of this fish! The emperor angelfish will need more space than many other marine tropics. So plan ahead.

In the wild, emperor angelfish congregate along coral reefs in shallow waters. Young people prefer to hide under rocky outcrops and, as under-adults, move to reef holes along gushing channels, where meals are plentiful. Adults live in caves and ledges in calmer reef waters, often in male-female pairs or harems of one man with several women.

Due to their strong color differentiation, young animals were considered completely different species until the 1930s.

Colors and markings

The Emperor Angelfish Juvenile has a bold contrast of royal blue, black, and white stripes that extend across its body in an arched pattern, with spots on the dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. They are very similar in appearance to juvenile Quran Angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus), also known as the semicircle angelfish. You can distinguish between the two by the full white circle at the base of the tail of the emperor angelfish, whereas the Koran has a “c” shape.

Adults are brightly colored with yellow and dark blue stripes horizontally across the body. The mouth is white or light gray with the forehead and lid dark blue to black. Even if it doesn’t look like it, this pattern is great for adding to a colorful reef background. The stripe pattern helps break up a fish hidden in a reef with contrasting lights and shadows.

Casey Mahaney / Getty Images Magnus Larsson / Getty Images ivan / Getty Images

Tank mates

As a semi-aggressive fish, the emperor angelfish cannot play well with more peaceful fish. They naturally hunt invertebrates such as soft corals, starfish, clams and anemones.

It is best to keep only one adult angelfish per aquarium. If you have multiple fish per tank, it is best to keep the fish in tied male-female pairs.

The emperor angelfish’s best buddies are smaller, aggressive fish like dottybacks, wrasses, and damselfish. Large, semi-aggressive fish, such as cones and other large angels, should be closely monitored, but may do well if properly introduced all at once to limit competition for territory and in a sufficiently large tank. Remember, the emperor angelfish requires a minimum of 175 gallons Start.

Gorgeous dottyback. Reinhard Dirscherl / Getty Images Cortez Regenbogen-Lippfisch. Borut Furlan / Getty Images Azurblauer Damselfish. Borut Furlan / Getty Images

Angelfish habitat and care

This type of fish is not for beginners. Only advanced hikers who have mastered the setup and maintenance of saltwater tanks should consider these lively fish.

In the wild, an emperor angelfish can have a very large territory, which is reflected in a large tank size. 175 gallons is a minimum for one person, but bigger is always better no matter what type of fish you’re holding. As with many other marine tropics, maintaining water quality is key to health and longevity.

Since they love to graze, having access to living rock is vital. You should allow a little extra as they will nibble on it. Kaiser-Kaiser-Fisch also like to find their own cave. So make sure that there is enough space in the pool for all types of fish that like a cozy cave.

Keep in mind that your invertebrates, including clams, corals, and starfish, may be pinched by the emperor angelfish. So give them hiding places or keep them out of the tank.

Emperor angelfish diet and feeding

Wild angelfish graze on a variety of foods including algae, invertebrates, and corals. Like many other tropical saltwater fish, they eat all day long, a trait that should be reflected as best as possible in their captive counterparts.

In captivity, Angelfish can be fed an omnivorous pellet diet. You should supplement your diet with dried seaweed, algae-based dry food, frozen crustaceans, and a variety of other frozen diets. It is best to give them a varied diet of around 50 percent pellets (multiple varieties can be mixed) in addition to at least two other frozen or dried options. This provides the best, most well-rounded diet.

Since they graze tropical fish, you need to feed them 2-3 times a day. Due to its aggressive nature, distribute the food throughout the aquarium so that all residents have a fair share of it.

Sexual differences

Although very subtle, adult male and female angelfish differ in color. Males are darker in color just behind the eyes and the feminine colors are less vivid overall. Without a sexually mature male and female next to each other, it is very difficult to distinguish the sexes. Men also tend to be slightly taller than adult women.

Female (left) and male (right) emperor angelfish. Getty Images / vlad61

Breeding Imperial Angelfish

Emperor angelfish was not successfully bred in captivity at this point.

In the wild, males and females appear to spawn. External fertilization will take place and the eggs will be swept over the reef. This strategy allows a small percentage of the thousands of eggs to find safe places from predators.

More types of pet fish and further research

If you’re interested in similar species, check out the following:

  • Lemon peel angelfish
  • Royal angel shark
  • Flame Angelfish