The beautiful Herald’s Angelfish is a lively lemon color, making a dramatic showpiece in nice rock-filled aquariums!

Herald’s Angelfish Centropyge heraldi has been called the “false” Lemonpeel Angelfish as it looks almost exactly like its relative, the Lemonpeel AngelfishCentropyge flavissima. They are both very “lemon” colored pygmy angelfish but can be quickly distinguished from one another. C. heraldi doesn’t have the blue ring around the eye and on the gill covers, nor the slight blue markings on the edges of its fins as seen on C. flavissima. Also on C. heraldi, the rear portion of the male’s dorsal fin and the tail fin are a bit more angular. But other than these slight variations, they look much the same.

Males can have a bit of black on their face, but other than that both sexes are all yellow. There is one variant from the the Coral Sea area of the Great Barrier Reef. This variety has a black horizontal band edged in blue on the very top back of the dorsal fin and sometimes a black saddle on the back. It was thought to be a different species, commonly called Woodhead’s Angelfish and described as Centropyge woodheadi. But it is now recognized as a color variation, and is in fact the same fish. Some other common names for this species include Yellow Angelfish, False Lemonpeel Angelfish, Yellow Pygmy Angelfish, Golden Angelfish, and Heraldi Angelfish.

This dwarf angelfish not only adds a beautiful splash of yellow to your tank, but will also help control several types of algae and diatoms. Even though it looks like almost the twin of the Lemonpeel, it is a bit easier to keep. It is not as dependant on algae in its diet and will accept a wide variety of aquarium foods. This is a moderately sized fish reaching just over 4 1/2 inches (12 cm) in length. But it is generally peaceful and with the correct environment, can live well over a decade in the aquarium.

This is an excellent great dwarf angelfish for the intermediate aquarist that wants some yellow coloring in their aquarium mix. They are moderate to care for yet still need an appropriately sized tank. Though it has been thought of as a species with a 50/50 survivor rate, which may be due to collection practices, once acclimated it becomes a hardy pet. A juvenile could be housed in a tank as small as 30 gallons, but as an adult it will be less aggressive and more apt to survive in a tank that is 55 gallons or more. The tank should be mature and have a large amount of algae growing on the rocks, which can provide a main source of food for this fish. When first acquired they may not feed right away and this algae can sustain them until they acclimate. Form the live rock into deep crevices and caves so they can hide when feeling threatened.

Though overall they are peaceful, like all dwarf angelfish theycan besemi-aggressive when they need to compete for food and space. Avoid other algae eating fish that will compete for food. They get along with most peacieful fish, just don’t housethem with large predatory fish or smaller aggressive fish like dottybacks that can stress them out. A male/female pair can be housed in a larger tanks of 75-100 gallons. With any other dwarf angelfish the aquarium must be 150 gallons or more with lots of hiding places and algae growth, and they need to be of a similar temperament to be kept together successfully.

The great thing about this angelfish is their desire to eat detritus and micro algae, both of which most aquarists do not want in their tank. So you can just look at them as part of your clean up crew! When it comes keeping them in a reef tank however, there is some risk to corals. They are not as dangerous to reef inhabitantsas the Lemonpeel or Bicolor AngelfishCentropyge bicolor, but still warrant being watched closely. Most invertebrates are safe but a few copepods may be ingested incidentally, since they reside in the algae.

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

Herald’s Angelfish (Centropyge heraldi) Five Saltwater Fish for sale

Report Broken Video
Herald’s Angelfish

Video shows yellow Herald’s Angelfish, Centropyge heraldi, in among several dwarf angelfish. You can see the aggression between them which is due to the aquarium being too small. The Herald’s Angelfish is not as durable as other dwarf angels, but one acclimated can do quite well if kept in a tank with a large amount of algal growth. They will pick at polyps of soft corals, large-polyped stonies, zoanthids, and clam mantles, so they would be best kept in a fish only tank. A male female pair can be kept in a tank that is at least 75 gallons or more.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacanthidae
  • Genus: Centropyge
  • Species: heraldi
Herald’s Angelfish – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.99 cm)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 8.0-8.4
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
Enter a Saltwater Aquarium
  • My Aquarium – Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
Popular Searches

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Herald’s Angelfish Centropyge heraldi was described by Woods & Schultz in 1953. It is found in the Pacific Ocean from Taiwan to the Tuamoto Island and from Southern Japan to the Great Barrier Reef. In the Coral Sea area of the Great Barrier Reef, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and the Philippines the specimens can have a black saddle back and/orthe back half of the dorsal finbeing black.

This species is on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC) as this dwarf angelfish has a large population and a wide distribution. Though some are collected for the pet industry there are no major threats currently identified. Common names it is known by include Heraldi Angelfish as well as several that describe its coloring including Yellow Angelfish, Yellow Pygmy Angelfish, False Lemonpeel Angelfish, and Golden Angelfish.

The name Woodhead’s Angelfish and Woodhead’s Pygmy Angelfish were derived from an inaccurately named color variation found in the Coral Sea area (near the Great Barrier Reef). This variant has black on the dorsal fin and so was thought to be a different species. It was initially described as Centropyge woodheadi but is now recognized as the same species.

In the wild this species will commonly cross breed with the Bicolor Angelfish Centropyge bicolor, which has been found in the Philippines. This dwarf angelfish also looks very similar to the Lemonpeel Angelfish Centropyge flavissima. They are both yellow, but the Lemonpeel has a blue edging on the gill area as well as blue edging on the tail fin and anal fin. Sometimes there is blue around the eye area, such is the case with a Pacific variant of Lemonpeel. Today some efforts are being made to breed this and several other types of Centropyge angelfish in captivity, which is a worthy effort though expensive and often cost prohibitive.

The Herald’s Angelfish are found in different types of environments depending on where they are from, yet in all these areas they show a preference for clearer water with no turbidity. They can be found on lagoon patch reefs and outer-reef slopes from 16 feet down to 295 feet (5-90 m), on steep reef slopes from between 49 to 131 feet (15-40 m), and on rubble slopes from between 30 to 66 feet (9-20 m). Foods they eat In the wild they feed primarily on benthic algae and weeds. Usually within these foods are zoobenthos, small animals that live near the sea bed and can include copepods, etc, that are inadvertently ingested. They will also consume cnidarians, hard corals, sponges, tunicates and ascidians (sea squirts).

  • Scientific Name: Centropyge heraldi
  • Social Grouping: Varies – As adults they are usually found in harems of 1 male with 2 to 4 females, but are also found singly or in pairs.
  • IUCN Red List: LC – Least Concern – Stable population trend.


The Herald’s Angelfish has the typical shape for a dwarf species, with a small elongated oval shaped body and rounded fins. They will only reach about 4.7†(12 cm) in length. Theyhave a lifespan of 10 years, even up to 20years, with good care in the aquarium .

This angelfish is bright yellow all over except for a few variants. There are some that have a dark area on the top of the dorsal fin and some with a dark “saddle†on the back, both of these markings are said to fade in captivity. Some males can have a dark patch behind the eyes with yellow spots. The back part of the dorsal fin and the tail fin are a bit more angular on the males, and they are larger.

  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 years – They have a lifespan of 10 years or more in captivity with proper care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Herald’s Angelfish are moderately hardy to keep, and suggested for an intermediate marine aquarist. They are considered moderate in care due to their constant grazing needs. They can adapt quite nicely to captive care if there is plenty of natural algae and they are kept in a low stress environment with the proper tankmates. A healthy individual who is alert, eating, and curious about its surroundings will have the best chance at survival.

They need a mature tank that is minimum of 55 gallons (208 l) with plenty of algae growth. Of utmost importance is multiple places to hide, so they will feel secure enough to come out. The tank needs to be over 150 gallons to add another species of dwarf angelfish or for unsexed individuals. Moving the rock work around may help with aggression, yet one of the dwarf angelfish hovering in the top corner is never a good sign and should be removed.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy – When provided with ample natural algae, low stress, and proper tank mates this angelfish will do well.
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

The Herald’s Angelfish is an omnivore, but leans towards herbivorous diet. It eats mainly algae and some small crustaceans and worms in the wild. Feed 2 to 3 times a day to supplement natural algae growth on your live rock. Without the herbivore foods, angelfish can develop blindness in a few months, so they must have algae growing in the tank or receive plenty of algae supplements. Offer foods for herbivores, including flakes or pellets with spirulina in the formula, along with preparations specific to pygmy/dwarf angelfish. There are several good commercial foods available including Formula II and Angel Formula. A tank with very little copepodsand amphipod populations would require a small addition of meaty items like mysis shrimp, gut loaded brine shrimp, and other finely chopped marine flesh.

A healthy Herald’s will be seen picking at the algae on the rock, and once adapted should take food out of the water column. At times smashing food into the rock may help if you have a picky eater. This dwarf angelfish will help control the green algae Crunchy Hair Grass of the Boodlea genera, several Green Hair Algae Derbesia species including Derbesia marina, Diatoms, Green String Lettuce, some other hair-like algae including Enteromorpha prolifera, E. linza, E. intestinalis, and E. compressa, and the Sea Lettuces Ulva ridida and Ulva lactuca. It is also known to control some red slime algae including two species of the Oscillatora genera.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore – They are an omnivore, leaning more toward algae consumption. Offer a diet with Spirulina algae and sponge material included.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Not necessary, but can be used to illicit a feeding response if they are not eating.
  • Vegetable Food: Most of Diet – They must have algae growing in the tank or receive plenty of algae supplements.
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet – In tanks where there is a low copepod population, feed mysis and other high quality marine flesh. Brine shrimp is a poor substitute unless gut loaded right before feeding or if it is Artemia.
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Feed 2 to 3 times a day in addition to algae growing on rocks.

Aquarium Care

The Herald’s Angelfish is moderately difficult to keep. Water quality and tank size are important. Keep in mind these angelfish are constant grazers and like tangs, lots of food in equals a lot of bio load, so water quality must be monitored. They need a pH of at least 8.0, and water changes that do not include scrubbing algae off of rock. If the tank is 55 to 60 gallons, a bi-weekly change of 10% to 15% would be good. If your tank is over 100 gallons, then every 3 weeks to a month do a 20% change.

Sudden massive water changes can cause trouble. A suggestion when performing your water changes is to clean one side of the tank at one water change, by vacuuming the rock and sand, then then during the next water change clean the other side the same way. Keeping up with your water testing will tell you when your tank needs a water change.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – Water changes of 10 – 15% every 2 weeks, or 20% a month, is optimal in keeping nitrates lower and the water clean.

Aquarium Setup

They will do well in a typical reef setting with live rock and plenty of places to hide. The aquarium needs to be at least 6 months old or more to provide all the necessary algae to feed your angelfish. Even juveniles need an established tank. Besides the live rock it is helpful have areas of rubble for the algae to grow on, which will aid in feeding them their needed veggies.

A minimum of 55 gallons is needed for one fish since this will provide the minimum of 1.5 to 2 lb. of live rock per gallon necessary to grow abundant algae crops. It needs to be 75 to 100 gallons for a mated pair and over 150 gallons for 2 fish that are unsexed, whether the same species or different species of dwarf angelfish with similar temperaments. Add dwarf angelfish at the same time and as the last additions to your tank. A tank that is longer, rather than taller is preferred due to their swimming near the bottom most of the time. Nano tanks are out, not even when the dwarf angelfish are young since it cannot provide enough algae growth.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L) – A tank of at least 55 gallons with plenty of algae growth for a single specimen, and 75 gallons or more 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 – Some rubble in one area of the tank for extra algae growth is appreciated.
  • Lighting Needs: Any – Lighting should be strong enough to support algae growth. If tank has low lighting, making sure direct sunlight hits the tank to support this natural food is suggested
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 0.0° F
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 8.0-8.4 – Lower than 8.0 will have detrimental effects on angelfish in general.
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Weak – Weak current toward the bottom where they dwell is preferred, stronger flows are fine in other parts of the tank.
  • Water Region: Bottom – When comfortable and with proper tank mates they will also inhabit the mid areas of the tank.

Social Behaviors

The Herald’s Angelfish is somewhat passive with a milder personality than other dwarf angelfish. They get along well in a community tank. They should be fine with smaller peaceful fish as well as the smaller semi-aggressive fish, as long as the tank is at least 55 gallons. Tanks that are smaller than thiswill result in aggression towards other fish as this dwarf angelfish will defend its small territory. Avoid housing it with other algae eating fish that will compete for food. Also avoid smaller aggressive fish like dottybacks that can cause it stress unless the tank is very large. Larger peaceful fish will also be fine, but do not house with larger aggressiveor predatory fish.

If kept as a known male/female pair, a minimum tank over 75 gallons with excessive algae growth on large amounts of live rock can work. Closer to 100 gallons would be better for supplying each fish with enough territory to defend, along with plenty of food, resulting in a better temperament. Only in tanks over 150 gallons can other dwarf angelfish be added together and only if there are plenty of places to hide and graze, providing each one with their own territory.

This dwarf angel is recommended for fish only community aquariums, and a reef with caution. Like other dwarf angelfish, this angelfish poses a threat to pretty much all corals, so if you are risking it in a reef tank, monitor carefully. They are fine with invertebrates for the most part, only picking on those who have a “coral looking†appendage.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful – Only aggressive in small tanks under 55 gallons and with their own kind.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Sometimes – Male/Female pairs can be kept in a tank of 75-100 gallons. Over 150 gallons with other dwarf angelfish that have the same temperament.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Safe – Typically safe in a large enough tank.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe – Can be kept in a tank over 150 gallons with other dwarf angelfish that have the same temperament.
    • Monitor – These fish can harass and stress the Herald’s Angelfish, thus making it prone to disease.
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Monitor – These fish can harass and stress this dwarf angelfish.
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Threat – In the wild, dwarf angelfish are often eaten by predatory fish.
    • Threat – Angel fish will out compete slow moving fish for food.
    • Anemones: Monitor – As long as a pugnacious clownfish is guarding the anemone, it should be okay, otherwise this dwarf angelfish will pick at the appendages..
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Monitor – Most of the time mushrooms will be left alone unless expelling waste. This waste is something these dwarf angelfish naturally eat, so keep an eye out but don’t worry unless they are actually biting the coral.
    • LPS corals: Monitor – Most of the time LPS may be eaten or the slime consumed, both of which will cause corals to close and eventually die.
    • SPS corals: Monitor – They may graze on the slime they exude preventing them from opening fully, which can cause eventual death of the coral.
    • 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.
    • Leather Corals: Monitor – 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 Effatounaria genus.
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Monitor
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Monitor
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – May pick on very tiny shrimp, but larger ornamental shrimp should be left alone.
    • Starfish: Monitor – May nip at appendages.
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor – Keep an eye on Feather Dusters.
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Monitor – They may graze on the slime they exude preventing them from opening fully, which can cause eventual death of the coral.
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe – These angelfish do not eat enough copepods that are found in the algae to have an impact on the population.

Sex: Sexual differences

The male Herald’s Angelfish has black on the face and in some locations males have a darker anal fin and dorsal fin. The male will have more pointed dorsal and anal fins once fully matured and can develop a dark area behind the eye with yellow spots on this dark area.

Breeding / Reproduction

There is no report of reproductive behavior in tanks or in aqua cultivation yet. In their natural habitat it has been observed that all Centropyge angelfish have a similar spawning routine, where a male will court several females. The male and female circle each other upon meeting, followed by the male making grunting noises to get her attention. Next, the male will swim upwards off the bottom, and hover, tilting his body toward her at a 45 to 90 degree angle. If she is ready to spawn, the female will join him and both will soar upwards.

When the soaring behavior is complete, which varies between dwarf angelfish species, the male will nuzzle her belly for up to 18 seconds, followed by the male flickering his pectoral fins and opening and closing his mouth. Suddenly, they are belly to belly, releasing gametes, producing fertilized eggs that free float until they are mature enough to settle into the substrate and start their new little lives without any parental supervision or protection. The pair will then rush back to the bottom, male chasing the female for a short time, then moving onto the next receptive female in his harem.. For more information see, Marine Fish Breeding: Angelfish.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

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 Herald’s Angelfish is sometimes available in stores and usually on line, and they are low to moderate in price.>


Featured Image Credit: KITTIPONG SOMKLANG, Shutterstock