The Coral Beauty Angelfish truly is a “beauty”… and a favorite of many marine hobbyists!

The colorful Coral Beauty Centropyge bispinosa is a very popular dwarf angelfish. Reaching only 4″ (10 cm) in size, it’s a “fun-size” color version of a large angelfish species, like the Bluegirdled Angelfish, but without the stringent care requirements. Besides being small and attractive, it is hardy, reasonably priced and readily available. In fact, this is the most commonly purchased dwarf angel in the marine aquarium hobby, second only to the Flame Angelfish. It is also called the Twospine Angelfish and Dusky Angelfish.

The Coral Beauty is an attractive fish that varies in its intensity of coloration and patterning, depending on where it was collected in the wild. They are typically red or orange with dark bluish striping and a purplish head and fins. But some are blue all over while others can be orange, pale yellow, and even white. On these the vertical dark lines may be reduced in intensity, as may the purplish blue on the head and fins. A beautiful red-blue combination is a common import from the Philippines. Unlike larger angelfish, colors in these angelfish do not fade as they age.

This is a hardy pygmy angel that is generally resistant to disease and a relatively peaceful fish. The Coral Beauty is as intelligent as the larger angelfish and will only be a terror if kept in a smaller tanks where it feels it must defend its little piece of the reef. It can be kept in a spacious community aquarium with fish of a similar size and disposition, and lots of hiding places. They do very little or no harm to invertebrates, although they may be inclined to occasionally peck at tubeworms or coral polyps. It is generally better behaved with corals than other Centropyg e dwarf angels. An individual may nip at LPS and clams, but if they are properly fed they will often ignore corals. According to one source they control many types of growth including certain species of diatom algae; Ulva , some species of Derbesia, and Entermorpha .

Coral Beauty Angelfish do best when there is algae actively growing in the tank. Provide lots of rockwork with many cracks and crevices to hide in. This will provide security, and the more secure it feels, the more it will come out into the open. In a sparsely populated 55 gallon tanks they do well, but they do best in 75 gallons, which brings out their easy going personalities. In this environment, they will generally ignore corals and other fish.

Look for a specimen that is alert, eating and chubby. They should be hard to catch, yet curious enough that if startled, they will come right back out of their hiding place to see their surroundings. All Coral Beauty Angelfish are born female and can be paired according to size, not necessarily color. The larger fish becomes male, so making a pair is possible by buying a larger Coral Beauty and a smaller Coral Beauty, and within a few months hopefully they will assume their roles as male and female. Dwarf angelfish will spawn in captivity and some are now being raised, yet raising the larvae is quite a difficult task.

For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium

Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosus)

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Video of a Coral Beauty Angelfish foraging for food.

This Coral Beauty Angelfish is doing what they do best, which is picking and pecking at live rock, looking for a tasty treat. They do need a tank that is mature, and at least 50 gallons with plenty of naturally growing algae on live rock to help it to adjust. This one was a good purchase, since it looks well fed and is very interested in it’s environment.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacanthidae
  • Genus: Centropyge
  • Species: bispinosa
Coral Beauty Angel – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 10.2 inches (25.81 cm)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 70.0 to 82.0° F (21.1 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 8.0-8.4
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Coral Beauty Centropyge bispinosa was described by Gunther in 1860. This little angelfish is from the Pomacanthidae family, of the genus Centropyge, which currently has over 33 species. It is on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC) as this dwarf angelfish has a large population and wide distribution. Although they are harvested for the pet industry there are no major threats currently identified.

It is found from East Africa to the Tuamoto Island then north to the Izu Island and south to Lord Howe Island near Australia. They are not found in the Red Sea, Hawaii or the southern Pacific Ocean. Other common names they are known by are the Coral Beauty Angelfish, Twospined Angelfish, Dusky Angelfish, and Two-spined Angelfish.

The Coral Beauty Angelfish are secretive fish that are found in lagoon and seaward reef slopes which support an abundance of coral growth and algae. They feed on algae, and live alone or in small groups consisting of one male with 2 to 5 females 3-7. As adults they are found at depths of 29 to 148 feet (9 to 45 m). The deeper individuals are much more pale in color than those from shallower waters. They have been reared in captivity. The C. bispinosa has been observed in Guam, spawning with the Shepard’s Pygmy Angelfish Centropyge shepardi.

  • Scientific Name: Centropyge bispinosa
  • Social Grouping: Varies – They are found alone or in groups of 3-7 feeding on algae.
  • IUCN Red List: LC – Least Concern – A stable population.


The Coral Beauty Angelfish has the typical shape for dwarf angels, having a small elongated oval shape body, with rounded fins. These angels can grow up to 4″ (10 cm) and in the wild. They can live 10 -15 years or more in nature.

These dwarf angelfish are typically red or orange with thin vertical striping in a darkish blue. There is a purplish blue over the head, on the face, and on the fins, with a blue-edged orange-red spot at the base of the pectoral fin. However different specimens can vary in its intensity of coloration and patterning depending on where there are collected in the wild. They can range from being almost entirely purple to less purple. The center body can have lots or little coloring in reddish orange, orange, or orange-yellow and the striping can become lines of broken dots and dashes. Deeper dwelling individuals will be more pale. The Philippine variety has a beautiful blue-red coloration.

The species that most closely resembles this fish is the Shepard’s Pygmy AngelfishCentropyge shepardi. Visually it has lighter coloring on the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins and lacks the bluish color over the head and on the face. It also doesn’t have a blue-edged orange-red spot found at the base of the pectoral fins on Coral Beauties, and the shape of its tail fin is less rounded. One other similar dwarf is the Rusty AngelfishCentropyge ferrugata, but instead of striping on the Rusty it has irregularly shaped black dots. It also has lighter coloring on the fins and lacks the bluish head color.

  • Size of fish – inches: 10.2 inches (25.81 cm) – Adult males can grow to 4 inches. Usually smaller specimens (about 1 – 1 3//4 inches) are found in pet stores.
  • Lifespan: 10 years – In the wild they live 10 – 15 years, though that may be unlikely in captivity.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Coral Beauty Angelfish are easy to care, very hardy and generally good eaters. They will take all manner of offered foods and graze on hair algae on live rock. Make sure you get a healthy individual and keep it with compatible tank mates. Also provide multiple places for this shy fish to hide so it will feel secure enough to come out. Be cautious of dwarf angels from the Philippines. Some collectors are known to have used improper capture techniques, such as not allowing the fish to decompress from deeper waters, as well as other mishandling techniques.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – These fish are easy to care for if you get a healthy individual and provide it with plenty of hiding places and frequent feedings.

Foods and Feeding

The Coral Beauty Angelfish is an omnivore. In the wild it feeds primarily on algae, but it will also ingest tiny animals living in the algae. In captivity their diet will be mostly algae, but also offer some other proteins. Feeding them a variety of good foods is important. Offer various types of fresh and dried marine algae, spirulina enriched foods, mysis shrimp, shaved shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods, angelfish preparations, and flakes or pellets designed for algae eating fish. There are several good commercial foods available including Formula II and Angel Formula. Feed several times a day even if natural foods are present.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore – Feeds primarily on algae, but it will also ingest tiny animals living in the algae. Offer a diet with Spirulina algae and sponge material included.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Most of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Feedings depend on the size of the tank. Generally they should be fed 2 to 3 times a day, with less in a tank with a lot of natural algae sources. However, if it is a larger tank with more algae for them to forage from, then feed 1 to 2 times day.

Aquarium Care

The Coral Beauty is not as touchy as some of the other species of angelfish, but still needs good water. Water changes of 30% a month, or 15% every 2 weeks is optimal in keeping nitrates lower. If there are corals in the tank, then 20% every month, 10% every 2 weeks or 5% a week works great. Of course, keeping up with your water testing will tell you when your tank needs a water change.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – A 10% to 15% water change bi-weekly to keep water clean is suggested unless tank is over 100 gallons, then 20% every 3 weeks to a month.

Aquarium Setup

This pygmy angel likes to have lots of rockwork or live rock and rubble type areas to pick natural foods. They need lots of caves and crevices in the rock work to hide in to feel secure. The tank needs to be at least 30 gallons for a single Coral Beauty, and 75 to 100 gallons (283 to 378 l) for a pair. Provide water parameters of: 72-81° F, pH 8.0-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025.In a larger tanks they will generally ignore corals and other fish, but in a smaller aquariums they tend to become quite territorial and aggressive. It is best to introduce this dwarf angel as the last inhabitant into a suitable, mature tank.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L) – The tank needs to be at least 55 gallons for a single Coral Beauty, and 75 to 100 gallons (283 to 378 l) for a pair.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places – Hiding places are key to helping dwarf angelfish feel secure. A good amount of live rock to supply natural foods is also important.
  • Substrate Type: Any – They do appreciate areas of rubble rock with algae growth and other edibles to feed on.
  • Lighting Needs: Any – Dim or blue lighting is predominant in its natural deep water environment for helping them spawn. Otherwise, moderate lighting to encourage algae growth.
  • Temperature: 70.0 to 82.0° F (21.1 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 77.0° F – At a temperature of 77° F hatching is 16 hours after spawning. Longer if water is cooler. In the wild they spawn in lower coral reef areas so a deeper tank is needed.
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG – Angelfish do not do well long term lower than 1.023.
  • Range ph: 8.0-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Any – They like some areas of faster water movement.
  • Water Region: Bottom – They will also inhabit mid level areas of the tank.

Social Behaviors

The Coral Beauty may act semi-aggressively toward other fish. Unlike other dwarfs, it doesn’t pick on smaller tank mates unless there is competition for algae in a smaller tank. Even in a 55 gallon they can get stressed if there are other algae eating tank mates. Two Coral Beauty males will fight to the death. They do not get along with other dwarf angels unless the tank is well over 100 gallons and there are plenty of hiding places for both. and plenty to eat. Making 2 separate “reefs” in a longer tank helps to “divide the line” so to speak. The Coral Beauty Angelfish is the least likely of all dwarf angels to bother corals when housed in larger tanks.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive – These are one of the least aggressive Centropyge angelfish
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Sometimes – A male/Female pair can be kept in a tank over 75 gallons (284 l), males will fight.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Monitor – Safe in larger aquariums over 55 gallons, but the Coral Beauty becomes aggressive in a smaller tank.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe
    • Safe
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Safe
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Monitor – Safe unless the tankmate is large enough to eat the Coral Beauty Angelfish.
    • Threat – Slow eaters will be out-competed for food.
    • Anemones: Monitor – As long as a pugnacious clownfish is guarding the anemone, it should be okay.
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Monitor – May eat waste exuding from mushrooms, which is not harmful, just keep an eye on the fish.
    • LPS corals: Monitor – May eat slime layer, causing coral to close and eventually die. In a very large system, the damage may not be as severe.
    • SPS corals: Monitor – May eat slime layer, causing coral to close and eventually die. In a very large system, the damage may not be as severe.
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Monitor – They may graze on the slime they exude preventing them from opening fully, which can cause eventual death of the coral, but still monitor for individual preferences.
    • Leather Corals: Safe – Safe with most from the Sinularia, Sarcophytom, Cladiella, and Paralemnalia genera, but still monitor for individual preferences.
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Monitor – Safe with most from the genus Effatounaria, but still monitor for individual preferences.
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Monitor – May nip at polyps if not well fed.
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Monitor – May nip at polyps if not well fed.
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor – May nip at appendages if not well fed.
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Threat – Most eat the slime layer of clams, causing clams to close and eventually die.
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe – Will not decimate populations as it is not a obligate eater of these foods.

Sex: Sexual differences

The male is generally larger than female, but color is not necessarily an indication of sex. Like all Centropyge , these fish are born as female. As they grow in a group, the larger and more dominant fish will become male and the others will remain female. If the male dies, the next dominant female in the hierarchy will turn to male. Putting a larger and smaller fish together is the best way to get a pair, possibly in about two months.

Breeding / Reproduction

Spawning of Coral Beauty Angels have occurred in hobbyist’s aquariums, and there have been successes in rearing the young, but it is difficult. The Coral Beauty spawns similarly to other dwarf angelfish, but there are some differences in the wild. Dwarf angelfish are broadcast spawners, releasing eggs and sperm simultaneously at dusk. Most rise into the water column and releasing eggs and sperm simultaneously at the top, though the Coral Beauty is said to stay closer to the reef rather than going to the top.

Generally a deeper tank is best for most dwarf angelfish, as well as a proper lighting schedule to encourage spawning. Copy the proper dusk light cycle in your aquarium at a consistent time every day by first having 1/2 the lights go out (the brighter lights), then an hour later have the other 1/2 (actinics) go out. The eggs will hatch in just under a day, within 2 to 3 days after hatching they need microscopic algae for their very small mouths. Obviously, this is where raising the babies becomes difficult.

Mike Evans shares the spawning behavior of his pair of Coral Beauties… thanks Mike!

The Coral Beauty’s spawning happens about an hour before the lights turn off, their timing is phenomenal.

The male begins to circle the tank and begins challenging some of the larger fish in the tank, here he challenges my female Cinnamon Clown.The female Coral Beauty begins to become receptive to the dashing movements of the male. The male clamps his fins at times as he swims by her. Then the two meet at the top of the aquarium by a powerhead, The male rubs his nose into her side as she expands her fins in a flashy display, and then they dash off. They go through this false spawn (courting session) many times before the actual spawn. In a split second the eggs are released. The female spurted out 16-20 eggs one time and I was lucky enough to catch them in my net and put them in a glass for this photo. The males dorsal and caudal fins actually completely attach with the back tail to look like one big fin. The female does not have the same fin arrangement.

I hope this helps all the people out there that believe in breeding and fish conservation. Angelfish are magnificent fish and I feel very responsible to the ones I have as my own. Good luck to all. …. Mike Evans

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult – Has been bred in captivity.

Fish Diseases

Providing a dwarf angelfish with plenty of places to hide and clean water is the best way to prevent illness. Calm fish are healthy fish. If not stressed, they will have a stronger immune system to prevent infections. Like other saltwater angelfish, dwarf angelfish can suffer any disease that captive saltwater environments have to offer. Fish problems can be broken into one of (or a combination of) these types: parasites, bacterial and fungal disease, or physical ailments (wounds and injuries). To learn all about fish problems and find specific answers, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

The best and first defense to prevent diseases is a quarantine period before introducing a new fish. Quarantine tanks should be bare with a PVC tube where the fish can hide. Do regular water changes every day or so. Secondly, fresh water dips can also help to kill anything that is on their body that may spread. PH and temperature must be the same (just use baking soda to bring up the PH if you have soft water but use a test). Start with 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes if they are not showing any signs of distress. This is really only needed if you see anything on their body or if the back fin is starting to fray.

Dwarf angelfish diseases and treatments:

  1. Parasitic and Protozoan diseases
    Dwarf angelfish are prone to parasites like White Spot Disease Cryptocaryon irritans, also known as Marine Ich, Saltwater Ich, or Crypt. Another common disease is Marine Velvet or Velvet Disease Oodinium ocellatum, (syn: Amyloodinium ocellatum or Branchiophilus maris), which is a parasitic skin flagellate. These are two of the most common diseases.
    – Symptoms of White Spot Disease are constant scratching and flashing, culminating with numerous white dots all over the body and fins. These dots disappear for a few days, only to return with double the number. This results in the fish suffocating from these parasites blocking the gills from providing oxygen.
    – Symptoms of Marine Velvet are a peppery coating giving a yellow to light brown “dust” on body, clamped fins, respiratory distress (breathing hard as seen as frequent or quick gill movements), cloudiness of eyes, glancing off decor or substrate, and possible weight loss.
    • Treatment of parasites
      For external parasites you can slowly increasing the temperature of your tank to at least 82° F (28° C). That will prevent the parasite from completing its life cycle which includes the attachment to fish. A further combination of the higher temperatures with medicated food will provide timely relief.

      Parasites on marine fish kept with live rock or in any type of reef environment can be extremely difficult to treat. Typical treatments like copper and formalin solutions, as well as quinine based drugs are harmful to other marine creatures. However drugs such as metronidazole provide an effective and safe treatment for several protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases.

      Metronidazole works by ceasing the growth of bacteria and protozoa. Metronidazole is an antibiotic for anaerobic bacteria with anti-protozoal properties. This drug is reef safe, and medications are either added to the water or mixed with the fish food. Some available products that contain metronidazole include Seachem Metronidazole, Seachem AquaZole, Thomas Laboratories’ Fish Zole and National Fish Pharmaceutical’s Metro-Pro.

      The Seachem Metronidazole medications works well in combination with another Seachem product called Focus, which is a bonding agent. This treatment can be used in a reef aquarium since the medication is bound to the food, which even if the corals eat, will not hurt them. Mix Focus in a ratio of 5 to 1 with their Metronidazole (5 parts Focus to one part Metro), then mix this with 1 tablespoon of food. Feed the medicated food to the fish 3 times a day for at least a week or until symptoms are gone.
  2. Bacterial Diseases
    As with all dwarf angels, they are also vulnerable to bacterial and fungal diseases. Bacterial infections are often a secondary infection resulting from damage caused by a parasitic or protozoan disease. One of concern is the Vibrio bacteria, which starts as an internal infection, turns into Dropsy, Popeye, Bleeding or Red Streaks on the skin. It is a very fast acting bacteria that will kill your angelfish in days. One way it typically starts is with an innocently frayed back fin. This disease will quickly spread and kill a fish within 2 days.
    • Treatment of bacterial diseases
      Fresh water dips are an important step to kill anything that is on their body that may spread. PH and temperature must be the same (just use baking soda to bring up the PH if you have soft water but use a test). Start with 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes if they are not showing any signs of distress. This is really only needed if you see anything on their body or if the back fin is starting to fray. Only treat in 1/2 doses any medications containing cleated copper as all angelfish are sensitive to this element in it’s free form.

      For dropsy, popeye, fin/tail rot and septicemia, which are at time secondary infections, another product you can use along with Seachems Metronidazole or alone is Seachems Kanaplex. You still need to use Focus to bond the Kanaplex to the food. Kanaplex, when used with Metronidazole in the same food, would be 2 scoops of Focus, 1 scoop of Kanaplex and 1 scoop of Metronidazole, yet this combination should only be fed once a day for 7 days, since Kanaplex should only be used for 7 days maximum. If you need to continue past 7 days, use only Metronidazole in a separate mixture for further treatment. This product can also be added to the water (without focus) if the fish is not eating.
  3. Physical Ailments
    Physical Ailments are often the result of the environment, either water conditions or incompatible tankmates. Poor quality water conditions can lead to fish gasping, not eating, jumping out of the tank, and more. Dwarf angelfish when very stressed or being picked on will hover in the upper corner of the tank and should be removed if the fish bullying your angelfish is not. Tank mate problems can result in nipped fins and bite wounds..
    • Treatment for physical ailments
      Look for and remove bully fish.
      Products on the market to help include stress relievers like Melafix, Wound Treat, and Bio Bandage.


The Coral Beauty Angelffish is usually available online and in stores, and are quite affordable.