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Related FAQs: Best FAQs on Centropyge, Centropyge Angels 1, Centropyge Angels , Centropyge Angels 3Centropyge Angels 4, Dwarf Angel Identification, Dwarf Angel Selection, Dwarf Angel Compatibility, Dwarf Angel Compatibility 2, Dwarf Angel Systems, Dwarf Angel Feeding, Dwarf Angel Disease, Dwarf Angel Disease 2, Dwarf Angel Disease 3, Dwarf Angel Reproduction, Marine Angelfishes In General, Selection, Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Health, Feeding, Disease.  

Related Articles: C. loricula/Flame Angel, Lemon/y Dwarf Angels, A Couple of Lemons; the True and False/Herald's (nee Woodheadi) Centropyges Potter's Angels, The Marine Angelfish Family, Pomacanthidae

/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

Perfect Little Angels, Genus Centropyge, pt. 1

To: Part. 2,   Part 3,  

By Bob Fenner

Centropyge bicolor

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

     Amongst families of marine fishes, the marine angels are some of the most beautiful, intelligent and hardy as aquarium specimens. One principal limiting factor to their husbandry is their prodigious size; many get to be too big for any but the largest of aquariums. Fortunately there is the genus Centropyge ("sent-roe-pie-gay"), the dwarf or pygmy angels (some of the angel genus Genicanthus are considered dwarves as well), some species of which stay less than 3" overall, with giant members growing to half a foot. All but a handful of Centropyge adapt well to captive conditions and thrive in what should be the smallest of captive systems.

There are but few "guidelines" for selecting and maintaining these diminutive beauties; sufficient cover, matched tankmates, adequate food. What is essential and often missing is the knowledge of how to pick out healthy specimens and properly condition them before introduction to the main/display tank.

Classification: Taxonomy, Relation With Other Groups

The genus Centropyge is the largest of the marine angel family Pomacanthidae, with some 33 and counting species described. Can you name all nine genera of marine angels? Apolemichthys, Centropyge, Chaetodontoplus, Genicanthus, Holacanthus, Paracentropyge, Pomacanthus, Pygoplites, Sumireyakko, of 75 total species.

Centropyge Species of Interest/Use to Aquarists:

The majority of Centropyge angels make for suitable to great aquarium specimens; however there are a few notable exceptions. In my opinion the Colin's, bicolor, multi-barred, Herald's, the (true) Lemonpeel, midnight, Potter's, and venustus are on-average, less hardy by far than other dwarf angel species. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the coral beauty (except from the Philippines), flame, Japanese, pearl-scaled, and rusty dwarf and most of the smaller (dwarf-dwarf) angels (C. acanthops, C. argi, C. aurantonotus, C. fisheri, flavicauda, C. resplendens) are my favorites as being most hardy and adaptable to aquarium conditions. The "rest" of Centropyge species, , either lie somewhere between the worst and best rating or my personal and recorded experience is too limited to rank them high or low.

Here is a current listing of described Centropyge species with brief biological notes.

Centropyge acanthops (Norman 1922), even more orange than the allopatric Centropyge argi and Centropyge aurantonotus, the African Pygmy Angel (1) can be easily discerned as the only one of the three with a light colored, yellow-transparent caudal fin. Coastal eastern Africa up to the coast of Oman. Aquarium pix. Below, at right, a C. acanthops X flavicauda cross at Rob Bray's fab House of Fins in CT.

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Centropyge argi Woods & Kanazawa 1951, the Cherub or Atlantic (Caribbean) Pygmy Angel (1). To 2.5" overall. Bermuda on down to the coast of Brazil. Aquarium and a Cozumel, Mexico pix of  more adult, more juvenile individuals. 

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Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available

Centropyge aurantius Randall & Wass 1974, the Golden Pygmy Angel  (1) is a real striker. It's a shame that this species hides so well, necessitating extensive breaking of coral and drug or poison use in its collection, and hiding for so much of the time in captivity. Western Pacific Ocean, Indonesia to Caroline Islands. Aquarium photos of a 6 cm. specimen from Bali by Hiroyuki Tanaka and a 9 cm. one in captivity by RMF.

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Centropyge aurantonotus Burgess 1974, the ( Brazilian) Flameback Angel (1) is very much like the more northerly Centropyge argi with more orange color on its back, at a much higher price. Found in southern part of the Caribbean Sea. Note the dark blue caudal fin, distinguishing it from C. acanthops. To 2.5" overall length. Pix by Hiroyuki Tanaka and RMF.

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Centropyge bicolor (Bloch 1787), the Blue-and-Gold, Pacific Rock Beauty, Bicolor or Oriole Dwarf Angel (3), is highly variable in it's survivability in captivity. Some shipments are 100% live on arrival, others can be just the opposite within days. Better specimens come from other than the Philippines or Indonesia. To 6" if they live. This near full-size adult off Heron Island, GBR, Australia. Pix by Hiroyuki Tanaka and RMF.


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Centropyge bispinosa (Gunther 1860), Two-Spined, Dusky or Coral Beauty Angel (2). Usually hardy from everywhere but the Philippines. Found widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific to central Pacific. Pix by Hiroyuki Tanaka and RMF of one in captivity and one in Australia. 

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Centropyge boylei Pyle & Randall 1992, Boyle's (for Chip Boyle)(2), or Peppermint Dwarf Angel. So far only found in deep water in Rarotonga in the South Pacific Ocean. Currently placed in the genus Paracentropyge.

Still saving for that rebreather, and working out to use it!

Centropyge colini Smith-Vainz & Randall 1974, Colin's Dwarf Angel (3), is a deepwater form (usually collected below 100 feet) that does poorly as far as the genus goes. Rare and expensive in the hobby. Indo-west Pacific to western Pacific area. Thanks to Evan McLaughlin for this pic!

Centropyge debelius Pyle 1990, Debelius's or Blue Mauritius Dwarf Angel (2), named in honor of Helmut Debelius, German aquarist, diver-photographer. Found thus far only in Mauritius and Reunion in the southwestern part of the Indian Ocean. 9 cm. specimen photo by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

To: Part 2, Part 3,  

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here

New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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