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FAQs about the Flame Angel Behavior

Related Articles: Marine Angelfishes, Flame Angels

Related FAQs: Flame Angels 1, Flame Angels 2, Flame Angel Identification, Flame Angel Compatibility, Flame Angel Selection, Flame Angel Systems, Flame Angel Feeding, Flame Angel Disease, Flame Angel Reproduction, Best FAQs on Centropyge, Dwarf (Centropyge) AngelsDwarf Angel Identification, Dwarf Angel Selection, Dwarf Angel Compatibility, Dwarf Angel Systems, Dwarf Angel Feeding, Dwarf Angel Disease, Dwarf Angel Reproduction, Marine Angelfishes In General, Selection, Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Health, Feeding, Disease,   

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hey everyone!   5/5/11
I have a 2.5 inch flame angel in great health and in great water condition in a 90gal. My concern is that after having him for about a month, <s>he started to swim sluggishly. He eats great, no spots or signs of
parasitic infestation buy just swims slower and kind of glides with the current. He is alert, but not as perky and energetic (and doesn't graze as frequently) as he was the first 3 weeks. This seems to happen to all of the dwarf angels that I purchase. Is this type of swimming pattern normal for a dwarf angel?
<Mmm, can be... captive settings are "far less exciting" than wild... and often metabolite negative feedback loops are of consequence in our small aquarium volumes>
Does their energy level fluctuate like this naturally?
<Not really, no>
Thank you!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/loricula.htm
and the linked files above... This genus' members are haremic; don't live singly... Likely an issue here as well. Bob Fenner>
re: Hey everyone!   5/5/11
Ok thanks. I also have to feed in large quantity because of the Thalassoma wrasse I have consumes a good amount of food in a very short period of time. Thought maybe the flame was getting too much food.
<Doubtful... Keep reading! BobF>

Suicidal Flame Angel   1/10/11
Greeting WWM Crew. I have a flame angel that I acquired about 2 months ago. For the third time in as many months I have found it on the bottom of the tank, motionless, barely breathing.
If I move it around a little bit, it slowly starts to breath faster, and soon, after more coaxing it "regains consciousness" and begins swimming around, exhibiting normal behavior. As I wrote, this is the third time this has happened. I've always noticed it when the lights are off.
<Oh! Most reef fishes do "lie down" during the night, lights out...>
The fish is eating fine (New Life Spectrum and Mysis)
<Good products>
, and has even taken food immediately after one of these "spells". Weeks have passed in between incidences, all seems fine, and then I find it again and think it's dead. The tank-mates are a false percula clown and a blue damsel. The clown and angel fought a bit at the beginning , but rarely do I see conflict now. There are no signs of trauma or disease on the flame angel, nor the other fish. My system is a 4 years old 50 gallon FOWLR, PH of 8.2, temperature of 79, ammonia/nitrite/nitrate are all undetectable. Would you guys know what is going on here?
<Mmm, yes>
I'm close to removing the fish to protect myself from the flame angel dying and crashing the system. Any help/guidance is appreciated.
<I would not be concerned here. This is likely natural behavior... a good idea to not turn lights on/off abruptly though. Bob Fenner>

Re: Suicidal Flame Angel  1/26/11
Thanks for the reply and insight, Bob. It happened again today (16 days since last time). This time however, I saw what happens before I find it laying motionless on the sand/rocks. The lights were off, and all of a sudden the flame angel started swimming around very fast and very erratically. It darted from once part of the tank to the other near the surface, so forcefully that I heard it from the other room and came to see what the noise was about. It did this darting about for 10 seconds and then froze, its body in a curved position, and fell motionless, like a leaf from a tree, to the bottom of the tank. I turned on the light and took a picture of it at this point, which I have attached. It lay on the rocks breathing very rapidly, and stayed like this for over 10 minutes.
<Very strange>
It's breathing then slowed. I placed a net inside the tank and moved it towards the angel. Once it saw the net, it immediately "came to" and began swimming around again, breathing normally. What is going on here?
<Fishy nightmares?>
The light was off the entire time, and I only turned it on to take the picture. Again, the fish has no signs of trauma/disease.
None of the other fish harass it nor show any signs of disease/trauma.
Water is at 80 degrees, Specific Gravity at 1.025, PH is 8.2, Alkalinity at 3.2 meq/L, Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate are all undetectable. I have had the fish for 3 months and it eats great. Thoughts?
<Am leaning toward neurological damage. BobF> 

Re: Suicidal Flame Angel  1/27/11
Thanks again Bob. I'll just try to keep doing my best for the little guy..maybe cyanide poisoning from collection...
<Something... let's hope this fish "grows out of it". Cheers, BobF> 

Hey again and Happy New Year! Damaged Centropyge, loricula   1/3/11
Guys/gals, I have a flame angel in qt at this point in time and he looks great, eats well and is very active. He is about 2.25" and has very bright and vivid red coloring. What I am confused about though, is the fact that he bobs his head up and down constantly at the water surface. I noticed he was doing this at the store but I thought it was going to be brief but I was wrong. Is he just playful or does he have brain damage lol?
<More the latter. Very likely resultant from trauma in capture, handling right after. May well resolve/solve itself in time>
His Gill movement is normal and there are alot <no such word> of breaks and waves at the surface.
When he bobs it doesn't look like he's gasping for air but rather trying to touch the lighting above him. Will this fade off or is it a serious problem?
<More the former likely>
Id much rather have an angel swim around and pick algae off live rock rather than constantly bob up and down at the surface.
Thanks everyone!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Sick flame angel, reading 05/20/08 Hi everyone I've been given your contact details by a member of another forum at everyone is at a total loss as to what's wrong with my flame angel.  My tank has been running for 7 months. It's a 125 litre 3 foot tank. Tank mates are two tank bred clowns, one pyjama wrasse, one royal gramma, one flame angel. I have 17kg LR. Ammonia, nitrite both zero. nitrate is 5ppm. SG is 1.025, pH 8.2, temp 26C.  Exactly two months ago today I got a flame angel who was fine until approx 3weeks (25/4/08) ago when all of a sudden he sopped eating, <... not quarantined> started hiding and when he made a brief appearance at feeding time he came out of hiding appearing grey around the gills with smaller eyes (giving a sort of piercing look appearance). He looked at food, let it go past then returned to hiding. This went on for a week then suddenly on 1/5/08 he was back to perfect again-eating like pacman, swimming everywhere. <... do you have a notion of where this fish/specimen was collected?> He's been fine until 15/5/08 when the exact same thing happening. He's still like that now. I hope he gets better again like last time but wondered what could it be and can I help? <... what could be? Apparently this individual had problems from the time prior to your acquisition... might well have not been fed, ammonia et al. burned...> I can find nothing on forums, in books etc so I'm totally lost now. On another note his swimming is slow and cumbersome when he does come out. There's no bullying, he just seems sick. It coincides with nothing I can think of, nothing was added at around these times and water parameters have remained constant since he was introduced. Thanks for any help Pete <... Please read here: Mmm, can't bring up the Indices on WWM... see my article there on Centropyge loricula, the subFAQs files therein. Bob Fenner>

Flame Angel swimming in circles -05/09/08 Dear WWM Crew, First of all I would like to thank you for your continuous support. <Sorry for the delay... when Bob's away, everything gets a little backed up.> I have a 90G reef system, where I have different types of corals, two anemones, 2 perculas, 1 Yellow Tang and 1 Flame Angelfish. This last one has been swimming in circles for the last two days, his lips are turning white and has been rejecting food these last days. I would appreciate if you can help me find out what the problem is and what are your suggestions in terms of medication? Do I need to remove him from the MT to a QT for medication? If antibiotics are needed, what kind and dose? <How long have you had the fish? If it's a recent addition, it may have been injured/poisoned/sick when you got it. If you've had it for some time now, this it's a little more mysterious. Bacteria infections can appear white or milky in an infected area. Swim bladder problem might cause the strange swimming. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm Thank you and best regards, <Sorry I can't diagnosis the problem more specifically. Even without knowing what the cause is, when a fish is sick, it never hurts to being extra diligent with water quality maintenance (UV sterilization and/or diatom filtration might also help just in case of parasites).> Oscar <Good luck, Sara M.>

Centropyge behavior in small tank   3/1/07 Hey guys, <Hello Kevin.>   I added a Flame Angel to my 30 gallon reef tank which also contains a Percula Clown and a Royal Gramma. <On the small side for a Centropyge.> I introduced him on Sat and he hid in the rocks all day. <Nothing out of the norm. at this point.>   He started to come out of the caves, slowly and progressively. <Good.>   He has not actually eaten any food yet, though has been picking at the rocks <I would not be concerned yet, interest in his/her environment is good though.> and taking in the shrimp and then spitting it back out. <Again I would not worry yet, and don't offer the same foods go with a variety.> He has appeared relaxed and has interacted peacefully with the other fish. <So far so good then.> Today I came home and he is swimming frenetically around the tank, picking at all of the live rock, and also the other fish. <By frenetically do you mean he was pro-actively investigations...becoming comfortable with his new niche or "frenetically" in a flighty, "scared" overactive nature? As for picking at the other fish, this is not uncommon w/ Centropyges in guarding their immediate territory and this tank is rather small.> This sudden change of behavior has me very concerned.  What do you think? <I think I would be concerned for the other tankmates in this confined area.> Kevin <**AJ**>

Flame Angelfish Eye Damage - 10/15/06 Hey Crew, <Hey.> I just ordered four flame angelfish for a research project, and within a week in the quarantine tanks three have developed a puffy, slightly cloudy right eye. Common literature says that if one eye is damaged the injury is likely mechanical in nature, although I find it to be one heck of a coincidence if three fish developed the same ailment. <My thinking as well.> Any ideas on what the cause could be? Could this be bacterial in nature? <Could be.> If so, could you suggest a treatment (Maracyn?)? Thank you for your time. Kevin J. <Well... I am curious, are these "new" tanks or well established? If not established, with working biological filters, then these fish are proverbial canaries in a coal mine for your water quality and the eye swelling is a likely indicator of other non-desirables like ammonia and nitrite. Would pay to check the water and change if necessary. Cheers, J -- >

Flame Angel beh. - 5/2/2006 Hello, <<Hello Jeremy.>> Great site!  I am *planning* my next tank; leaning toward a 50g breeder, with 29 gal refuge. I really like the Flame Angel, and would like a mated pair of black/white clownfish too. The other fish I would like is a Mandarin Dragonet. <<This tank is much too small for a dragonet.>> The only other fish to have in the tank will be a Yellow Clown Goby, which is the only fish in my current setup. In your guide on Flame Angels you say that anemones will become fodder for the Angel; is this a hard and fast rule? <<Is not my guide, but certainly fish differ in personalities.  It is quite a risk, though.>> I would love to have my clowns host in an anemone, but only if everything will thrive. Also, would the clowns, angel, and mandarin have aggression issues? <<I would not add the mandarin.  The clowns and angel will likely be fine.>> Thank you!!! Jeremy <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Flame Angel Hiding   03/07/06 Hello, <G'morning> My flame angelfish is either hiding in the live rock, or dying somewhere in the live rock, and I can't figure out why. <Mmm, is generally quite a shy species... and doesn't like being in crowded quarters or with aggressive tankmates...> I purchased him at my LFS as a juvenile the end of January. He spent six weeks in a quarantine tank disease free, and appeared to do fine. I drip acclimated him for 3 hours before placing him in my 46 gal FOWLR tank. He started eating right away and was constantly grazing on the LR throughout the tank. He did fine for a week, but on Wednesday morning I noticed he was no where to be found. <As stated, not uncommon behavior> The tank is occupied by three green Chromis, a royal Gramma, and a blood shrimp. <These should be fine together... but your system is too small...> I did notice that when I added the angel he immediately drew out the blood shrimp. <For a requested "cleaning job" likely> The shrimp hides in the back of the tank under a rock. I can not spot the angel anywhere from the front or the sides of the tank, so I'm left to believe he's somewhere under a rock in the rear of the tank. Is it possible that he's stressed and hiding, or is his fate not so good? <I'd monitor ammonia... try feeding some small, meaty foods in the early morning, later toward lights out time... and not panic. This fish will show... one way or t'other. Bob Fenner> Your help is sincerely appreciated! Art

- Angel & Hermit Interaction - Hello and thank you in advance, I have had a Flame Angel about a week now, and he has acted quite odd toward the hermit crab I have. The Flame Angel frequently swims up to the crab and presents his side to the crab. It does not appear to be hostile, it really seems to be as an offering. The Flame will nearly lie down on the substrate in front of the hermit crab. It almost appears as if the Flame expects a cleaning or something... but as far as I have read up on this I don't see any reference to this behavior in Angels and other species. Any ideas?  <Not really... does sound like the fish is looking for a cleaning, but honestly it's pretty much impossible to know the true motivations of fish.>  Should I be concerned?  <No more than any other day... always want to observe your tank's occupants, make sure all are in good health, etc.>  The crab hasn't yet, but I worry he'll grab the Angel one day for lunch.  <That's a big thing to take down for a hermit crab... doubt this will happen.>  The Angel seems fine otherwise.  <Good.> Thanks again, Lance <Cheers, J -- > 

Flame Angel Hi, I have had a Flame Angel for about a month in a 30 gallon fish-only tank.  When I got it readily accepted Pygmy Angel Formula. Now I noticed he doesn't  swim around as much. And when he swims he leans toward his right side. Can  you help me? He has no bullies in his tank. Thanks >> Hmm, it may well be that the "bully" in the tank is the Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula) itself... A thirty is too small a system for this species...  Do you have much live rock? This would help to make the system more acceptable and psychologically fit... otherwise, if you can't move the animal to larger quarters, all you can do is wait and hope it adjusts to being in your thirty. Bob Fenner

New tank Hi Bob.  <Anthony Calfo in your service> Great page! I moved my 120 reef tank in November to our new house. No losses. The problem is that the behavior of my Flame Angel and Royal Gramma has completely changed. The Angel keeps scaling the walls of the aquarium. Up and down and all around right next to the glass.  <often caused by a reflection (mirror effect) on the glass from the new aquarium lights and/or room lights... or just as often from weak water flow in the tank (upgrade the tank but not the pumps?)> The Gramma lays on the sand a lot. Did I give my fish brain damage?  <no idea here... not even a wise crack <smile>> Thanks! <always welcome, Anthony>

Freaky Flame Angel? I've had this flame angel now for the past 3 months and about a week ago this fish seems transfixed on one side of the tank for some reason. Swimming fast around the tank, eating when food is presented as normal but he continues to return to the same spot. He swims up and down back and forth on the left side pane of glass? It is driving me nuts that this fish does not behave as he normally did in the tank? What gives? I darkened the side of the tank thinking the light somehow was showing his reflection and he all of a sudden noticed himself. This however has not deterred him from this behavior. Has anyone ever heard of this behavior and what does it all mean? <Well, it's really a matter of speculation...Let's face it- fish in captivity simply act differently than they would in nature. Some erratic activity can be a result of water chemistry issues, such as ammonia, low pH, etc., or even a toxin of some sort. Most likely, the behaviour is some sort of reaction to an environmental stimulus. Do check water chemistry just to make sure that nothing is out of whack here> As I said he acts normally at feeding time but continues this fixation to that side of the tank. Any suggestions on what this is and should I need to be concerned for some reason? I want this to stop as it ticks me off to see this fishes natural behavior change all of a sudden with no apparent reason why he is behaving this way. Please if anyone knows what's going on and how to stop this it would be greatly appreciated. Regards,                                                       Craig <Well, Craig, as I indicated above, it may be an environmental issue, so do check that out and correct as necessary. Review basic husbandry issues, population/compatibility, lighting, etc. Look beyond the obvious. There is a good chance that this behavior will go away in time, as long as it is not environmentally caused. Keep an eye on things here. Good Luck! Scott F><<Likely reacting to its own reflection... RMF>>

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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