Emperor Angelfish

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$ 91.30 $ 104.99

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Minimum Tank Size: 250 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Reef Compatible: With Caution
Minimum Tank Size: 220 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Reef Compatible: With Caution
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max. Size: 1' 3"
Color Form: Black, Blue, White, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Origin: Africa, Fiji, Indonesia, Maldives, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu
Family: Pomacanthidae


The Emperor Angelfish requires a 220 gallon or larger tank with live rock for grazing and hiding. They also require extensive rockwork and deep caves to feel secure. It will nip at stony and soft corals (sessile invertebrates) and clam mantles, but may be kept with small-polyped stony corals and somewhat noxious soft corals.

It should be fed a diet of Spirulina, marine algae, high-quality angelfish preparations, mysis or frozen shrimp, and other meaty items.

Difficulty: The emperor angelfish can vary in its durability in captivity. Adult emperor angelfish will definitely have a more difficult time acclimating than juvenile emperor angelfish. In most cases, the larger fish will be more reluctant to accept captive foods, though with some patience (and if water quality and tankmates are not a problem), it usually will eat foods like frozen mysid shrimp and finely chopped seafood (e.g., shrimp, scallop). Juvenile emperor angelfish tend to be less finicky, feeding on most available fish foods (some will not eat flakes). Feed the emperor angelfish one to three times a day, depending on if there is natural fodder available for it (e.g., algae, sponges).

Physical description: The color of the juvenile P. imperator and the adult are very different. The juvenile emperor angelfish is dark blue overall with concentric white circles on the body and lines on the head. The adult emperor angelfish is yellowish-green with blue lines on the body and a black eye bar and chest shield. Pomacanthus imperator males have a blue face (in front of the eye band), while in females, this area is gray. As a juvenile emperor angelfish grows, it begins taking on some of the markings of the adult, which gradually replace all the juvenile color characteristics. In captivity, this metamorphosis can occur earlier than it would in the wild, and the final adult coloration may not be as splendid as that seen in a wild-caught adult emperor angelfish. The size at which ones of these fish totally changes can vary greatly, but the smallest adult emperor angelfish measure about 4 inches in length. The emperor angelfish attains a maximum length of 15 inches.

Range: The emperor angelfish is known from the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea east to the Hawaiian Islands (it is rare at this location). The emperor angelfish makes its home on lagoon patch reefs, reef faces, channels and fore reef slopes at depths of 10 to 260 feet. The juvenile emperor angelfish often hang out under ledges or near the mouth of caves, while adult emperor angelfish are more often seen patrolling over the open reef. Juvenile emperor angelfish occasionally clean other fish and may specialize in picking at large moray eels. The adult male P. emperor defends a large territory that is home to two or more female emperor angelfish. The primary foods of the adult emperor angelfish are sponges and tunicates.

Compatibility: A juvenile emperor angelfish is unlikely to cause behavioral problems in the home aquarium — unless it is kept with another young emperor angelfish or a juvenile angelfish with a similar color pattern (there are many Pomacanthus from the Indo-Pacific that have the same general dark bluish to black body with white and light blue markings). The young emperor angelfish does not usually catalyze attacks from fish, with the exception of similar angelfish. However, the emperor angelfish may occasionally be chased off by territorial, benthic species, like dottybacks, hawkfish and damselfish (including larger anemonefishes). Adult emperor angelfish have been known to spar with other angelfish, surgeonfish and triggerfish. One thing that will decrease the likelihood of an adult emperor angelfish acclimating is it being pestered by reef bullies. That said, once the emperor angelfish has fully established itself in an aquarium, it may become a bit of a rogue itself. The emperor angelfish is most likely to chase butterflyfish and other angelfish. If an aquarium is large enough (e.g., 240 gallons or more), it is possible to keep a juvenile emperor angelfish with an adult emperor angelfish. However, as the young emperor angelfish begins transforming into the adult colors, the larger fish may begin to attack it. The emperor angelfish is a protogynous hermaphrodite.