Centropyge angel, dwarf angelfish, pygmy angels

Captive reproduction of Centropyge species angelfish

Browse the Information to the right, or enter a topic here

Looking for books 

on this subject ?

Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes
Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes by Scott Michael

A Guide To
A Guide To Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes by Allen, Steene, Allen
Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes

The Conscientious
Marine Aquarist
The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Bob Fenner

Ultimate Marine Aquariums
Ultimate Marine Aquariums by Mike Paletta
Saltwater Dream Systems

  New Marine Aquarium
Fish Tank Books - New Marine Aquarium

Your First Marine Aquarium 
Fish Tank Book - Your First Marine Aquarium







Pygmy Angelfishes - Centropyge sp.
( compliments of Reef Culture Technologies, www.rcthawaii.com )

The pygmy angelfishes (genus: Centropyge) are the most popular and heavily traded of the marine angelfishes (family: Pomacanthidae) in our hobby today. The genus is the largest within the Pomacanthid family, comprising a total of 31 described species. The majority of these is intensely colorful, hardy and unlike larger marine angelfishes, can be kept in smaller aquariums.

The Centropyge group is the present focus of RCT’s research.
On November 3rd, 2001 Reef Culture Technologies LLC closed the life cycle for the Fisher’s Angelfish (Centropyge fisheri). To the best of our knowledge this was the first pygmy angelfish species ever raised in captivity. The company has since developed reliable rearing methods for a number of pygmy angelfishes, raising an additional four species.

flame juvenile lemonpeel juvenile Fisher's juvenile Japanese pygmy juvenile multicolor juvenile

In nature, Centropyge have a non-specialized diet, feeding primarily on algae, detritus and interstitial fauna. In the aquarium they should be provided with a balanced diet. We’ve had best results conditioning our broodstock on 2 to 3 daily feedings of a diverse seafood gelatin diet, rich in vitamins, pigments and highly unsaturated fatty acids.

Spawning Pygmy Angelfishes

Pygmy angelfishes are pelagic spawners, releasing their eggs directly into the water column. They predominantly live in a male-dominated social hierarchy referred to as harems. In nature, each harem consists of one large male and one to four smaller mature females and up to nine immature females. Every evening during the twilight hours, males undergo an intense mating ritual with each mature female in the harem. Spawning is commenced when the male rises with a female several feet above the reef substrate, while “nuzzling” here abdominal area. Climax is marked by a forceful thrust of his snout against the abdomen followed by split second body reversal, which lines up the orifice of both sexes. Eggs and sperm are then released in a single burst and fertilization occurs. The presence of an oil globule causes the eggs to rise from the spawning site, just above the reef substrate, to the plankton rich surface waters.

A video clip of the Fisher's Angelfish spawning.

Adult pygmy species that adapt well to captivity will often spawn without any special provisions. However, egg production can be poor and random when the proper diet and environmental conditions are lacking. In our experience, the keys to consistently achieving large, fertile spawns have been:

  • Starting out with healthy, mature fish

  • Conditioning them on nutritious diet

  • Providing them with the lighting and temperature conditions of their natural spawning season

  • Giving them sufficient tank volume and height to spawn

  • Maintaining adequate water quality

Culture and Larval Development of Pygmy Angelfishes

The long and complex larval phase makes culturing the pygmy angelfishes very difficult. Compared to the larvae of commercially propagated species (clownfishes, dottybacks and many gobies), pygmy anglefish larvae demand a smaller, more nutritious and easily digested food source at hatching; are more sensitive to environmental changes (water quality, lighting, temperature) and require optimal nutrition throughout development; and take much longer to both reach and complete metamorphosis.

The larval development of the lemonpeel pygmy angelfish, Centropyge flavissimus

Pygmy angelfish species raised by RCT:

The Fisher’s angel is a Hawaiian endemic species that is rarely seen in the aquarium trade. One of the benefits of this species, aside from its hardiness, is its small size. It can be kept in tanks as small as 20 gallons.

A pair of Fisher's Angels (male on bottom) 72-day-old Fisher's juveniles


The Fisher’s angel, Centropyge fisheri


This species does well on all quality aquarium foods and, being sub-tropical, prefers a temperature from 74 to 80ºF. Adults reach a maximum size of three inches.

The lemonpeel angel is among the most heavily traded pygmies. It is less aggressive than many other pygmies and a hardy and beautiful fish. It thrives on a diet rich in algae and should be kept in at least a thirty-gallon tank. This species has wide distribution and commonly occurs throughout most of Melanasia and Micronesia. Water temperature preferences are between 77 and 82º F.

A pair of lemonpeel angels (male on left) 80-day-old lemonpeel juveniles in hiding


The Lemonpeel angel, Centropyge flavissimus


Adults reach a maximum size of 5 inches. A harem of three lemonpeel pygmies has been spawning at our facility for over 5 years now.

The flame angel is arguable the most common and well know pygmy species in the trade. It is more omnivorous than most other pygmies (which are primarily herbivorous) and considered very hardy. It can, however, also be quite aggressive towards its tank mates, esp. members of its own kind.


The flame angel, Centropyge loricula


A pair of flame angels (male on right) A 90-day-old flame juvenile This species prefers water temperatures between 77 and 82º F and can occur from Palau to the Hawaiian Islands. It is commonly collected from the Christmas and Marshall Islands. Adults reach a maximum size of 4.5 inches.

The multicolor angel used to be quite rare in the trade but now is more and more commonly seen. It has a relatively wide distribution, occurring from Palau to Tahiti and the Marshall Islands, but lives secretively in the deeper, 20 to 60 meter reef habitats.

A pair of multicolor angels (male on right) A 105-day-old multicolor juvenile


The multicolor angel, Centropyge multicolor


We found this species to be exceptionally hardy and well suited for captivity. It thrives our gel diet, flakes and adult brine shrimp and prefers water temperatures from 76 to 81º F

The Japanese Pygmy angel is a stunning fish and quite rare in the trade. It commonly occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean along Japan’s southern coast, particularly at the Izu Peninsula, but it can be found as far south as the northern most Hawaiian Islands. We found it thrives on a quality gel diet, small pellets, high-grade flakes and frozen adult brine shrimp.

A pair of Japanese pygmy angels (male on right) 65-day-old Japanese pygmy juveniles


The Japanese Pygmy angel, Centropyge interruptus


Our wild adults require cooler water temperatures between 74 to 80º F but our first generation juveniles are now adapted and do well in water temperatures up to 82 degrees. Adults can reach up to 6 inches in length.

Present Culture Constraints

Raising marine ornamentals is difficult, the degree to which depends on the species in question.

Species not cultured
About 85% of the marine ornamental fish and shrimp species traded worldwide have not been raised because of their complicated rearing requirements. Such species are too difficult to spawn and/or have very primitive larvae that are too difficult to raise. A common problem has been not being able to provide the right size, quality and/or quantity of acceptable food organisms for the larvae at first feeding. Butteflyfishes, hawkfishes, coral perches, tangs and surgeonfishes, and most wrasses and many marine angelfishes have never been raised in captivity.

Species cultured experimentally
Just over 120 species can be raised on an experimental basis in limited numbers. Further biological, technical and economic problems still need to be worked out to achieve large and consistent commercial production. Experimental rearing methods vary from species to species and require experience, dedication and financial commitment to develop. Some marine angelfishes, blennies, boxfishes, damselfishes, drums, dragonets, gobies, rabbitfishes, and puffers have been cultured in limited numbers.

Species cultured commercially
The biological and technical culture problems for about 50 marine ornamental species have been worked out. Economics now dictates whether mass production at a profitable level is feasible. A common problem is that the costs of producing certain species in large numbers are too high to compete with pricing of their wild-caught counterparts. Clownfishes, dottybacks, sea horses and few goby and cleaner shrimp species are presently produced commercially. The royal gramma, black-cap basslet, marine beta and banggai cardinal are examples of species that could be produced at a profitable level if the costs associated with producing them in large numbers was lower.

Special thanks to Reef Culture Technologies, www.rcthawaii.com






Acrylic aquariums, Fish Tanks, Aquarium StandsAcrylic aquariums, Fish Tanks, Aquarium Stands

Acrylic aquariums, Fish Tank, Aquarium Stand, In-Wall Tanks, Wet Dry Trickle and Euro Filters, Protein Skimmers and Lighting Systems

' Build Your Aquarium On-Line '



Jellyfish, Pankton Kreisel, Jellyfish Tanks Manufacture of custom acrylic jellyfish tanks, plankton kreisel and holding systems used to keep midwater collections and gelatinous organisms in suspension.



Aquarium Maintenance, Sales, Service and Installation
Aquarium Maintenance, Sales, Design and Installation.
Thousand Oaks, California



MACNA X, Marine Aquarium Conference of North America 1998 The Tenth Annual Marine Aquarium Conference Of North America

Presentation DVD's

September, 27, 28 and 29, 1998
Long Beach, California

Jim Wolf, Tyree, Fenner, Hovanec, Knop, Borneman, Goemans, Leng, Thiel, Pellata, Frakes, Carlson, Sprung, Riddle, Brockmann, Delbeek, Adey.



Aquariums, Ponds, Fish and Aquatic Information.

Bob Fenner, author of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and the WetWeb crew offer tons of aquarium info and fun.