Queen AngelfishFamily: PomacanthidaeHolacanthus ciliarisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
A most beautiful angelfish, a "queenly" specimen indeed is the Queen Angelfish!
The Queen Angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris has long been an aquarium favorite. It is found in Western Atlantic coral reefs, ranging from Brazil north to Florida, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is popular with both European and American aquarists, and considered one of the hardiest angelfish. But because the Queen Angelfish can grow up to 18" (45 cm), this makes it rather difficult to keep.
In the wild the Queen Angel is found by itself or in pairs. Its diet consists mainly of sponges though it will snack on a small amount of algae, tunicates, hydroids, and bryozoans. The kinds of sponges it consumes is huge with over 40 different types of sponge having been found in their stomachs. With this exclusive diet, it is not a specimen that will be seen in many community aquariums, but it is a gorgeous fish.
This angelfish shares its watery world with another very similar looking angel, the Blue Angelfish Holacanthus bermudensis. These two at first glance can easily be mistaken for one another and are often confused. They differ primarily in color pattern. The Queen Angelfish is a blue to blue-green overall with yellow fins, an all yellow tail fin, and some striking blue highlights. The edges of all the fins are a radiant blue, but its most distinctive feature is its brilliant blue 'crown' at the nape. This crown, sitting on its forehead is what led to the common name Queen Angel. The Blue Angelfish does not have this blue crown.
The Queen Angel and the Blue Angelfish commingle in their native waters, and naturally occurring hybrids of these two are not uncommon. The coloration of some hybrids consists of blotches of color very much like the freshwater Koi species. Other hybrids can be completely blue or completely green. At first the were thought to be a separate species, and a description of Holacanthus townsendi was actually based on a hybrid between the Queen and the Blue angelfish.
For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium
Taxonomy The Queen Angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris was first described and named in 1758 by Linnaeus, with an original name of Chaetodon ciliaris. This fish was later given a new scientific name of Holacanthus ciliaris (Linnaeus, 1758).
Diseases that saltwater angelfish are susceptible to:
Maintenance: This angelfish survives mainly on sponges so make sure you can get an angel formula with sponge in it. It is important that you feed angelfish all kinds of live, frozen, and prepared formula foods. Best to feed small amounts several times a day. A good formula that can be made at home consists of mussels, shrimp, squid, and spinach.
Natural Foods: The Queen Angelfish are omnivores. In the wild it eats mainly sponges with small amounts of algae, tunicates, hydroids, and bryozoans. A wide variety of sponges is eaten, over 40 different varieties have been found in their stomachs. Juveniles have been known to clean other fish of external parasites.
Adult Queen angels are generally found in pairs year round, so it is assumed that the male and the female have a monogamous relationship. Pairs will spawn by slowly rising up in the water column while bringing their bellies close together, and releasing large amounts of eggs and sperm. A female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening. This can total as many as ten million eggs for the duration of the spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent and pelagic, floating in the water column. The eggs will hatch in 15 to 20 hours. At this point the "pre-larval" angelfish is attached to a large yolk sac, has no functional fins, no eyes, or gut. After about 48 hours the yolk is absorbed during which time the fish develops into true larvae and begins to feed on plankton in the water column. Growth is rapid and 3 to 4 weeks after hatching the fish will reach about 15-20mm and will settle on the bottom.
Breeding, to our knowledge, has not been accomplished in captivity. See Breeding Marine Fish for more information about marine fish breeding in general.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Helmut Debelius, Rudie H. Kuiter, World Atlas of Marine Fishes, Hollywood Import & Export, Inc., 2006
- Scott W. Michael, Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes: Reef Fishes Series , Microcosm Ltd, 2004
- Mark Allen, Roger Steene, Gerald R. Allen, A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes , Odyssey Publishing, 1998
- Dr. Warren E. Burgess, Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod, Raymond E. Hunziker III, Dr. Burgess's Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes, T.F.H Publications inc., 1990
- Dr. Gerald R. Allen, Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World Volume 2, Aquarium Systems; 3rd edition,1985