Centropyge species raised at Reef Culture Technologies between 2001 and 2011.

The Resplendent Cherubfish – C. resplendens x C. argi  (October 2011)

Following the breeding success of the popular Hawaiian Resplendent Pygmy Angelfish (C. resplendens x C. fisheri), the work on Centropyge hybridization continues with the captive-breeding of the Resplendent Cherubfish. The parents of this unique fish are arguable considered the two most attractive and distinctive pygmy angels species in the Xiphypops subgenus (also known as the “argi” or “fisheri” complex): the Resplendent Pygmy Angelfish (C. resplendens) from Ascension Island and the Cherubfish (C. argi) from the Caribbean.

Centropyge hybrids sometimes occur naturally between species that share the same geographic location. The natural distribution of the Resplendent Angelfish and the Cherubfish is separated by over 3,000 miles, which makes the Resplendent Cherubfish truly unique and only available through captive-breeding efforts.

Resplendent cherubfish hybrid
Left: Resplendent Angelfish male and Cherubfish female (parents). Right: Resplendent Cherubfish juvenile, 200 dph.

185 and 215 day old Resplendent Cherubfish measure about two inches in length. They have orange, yellow, purple and metallic blue; displaying a mix of the colors from their parents. They feed on spectrum 0.5-1.0 mm pellets (growth formula), a homemade frozen gelatin formula food and diatomacious algae growing on tank walls. Their demeanor appears less aggressive than what is common for dwarf pygmy angelfish species (Xiphypops subgenus).

African Pygmy Angel – Centropyge acanthops  (October 2011)

The African Flameback Pygmy angel is another beautiful angelfish belonging to the Xiphypops subgenus (C. fisheri, C. acanthops, C. argi, C. resplendens, C. aurantonotus, C. flavicauda). It occurs in the western Indian Ocean along the east coast of Africa from Aliwal Shoal to the Gulf of Aden and east to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Maldives. This species can often be found in harems of up to 12 individuals in coral rubble bottom habitats (often covered with thick algae) at depths of 25 to 130 feet. Adult fish reach about 3 inches.

Much like C. argi, C. acanthops is hardy in captivity, though it has aggressive tendencies, especially in smaller aquariums (less than 40 gallons). It has no sexual dichromatism. Males are longer and more slender than females. Like all Xiphypops members, C. acanthops is suitable for reef aquariums.

African flameback
Left: African Pygmy Angel (parents). Right: African Pygmy Angel juvenile, 190 dph.

The larvae have similar requirements to C. argi up to metamorphosis. Interestingly, this species settle about 7 days after C. argi larvae start to settle.

Cherubfish or Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish – Centropyge argi  (September 2011)

The Cherubfish is common in the aquarium trade. The species is found in Florida, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean on reefs, rubble zones and mud/sand bottoms from 15 to 200 feet. It is most abundant at depths below 90 feet and more commonly occurs in the southern part of its distribution. Adults grow to 3” in size.

The Cherubfish is a popular aquarium fish due to its captive hardiness, small size, attractive deep blue metallic color and affordability. Collected individuals are suitable for reef aquariums but may become aggressive once established.

Left: A Cherubfish pair (female below male). Right: 90-day-old juvenile Cherubfish

Cherubfish larvae are strong and fast growing. They begin settlement near 40 days post-hatch (dph) and complete their transition to juveniles between 50 and 60 dph. I consider this one of the easier Centropyge species to culture; however, present economics (low price of collected individuals) makes production in the near future unlikely.

Hawaiian Resplendent Angelfish – C. resplendens x C. fisheri  (September 2006)

I’m really excited about this one. Centropyge hybrids sometimes occur naturally between certain species (Lemonpeel x Halfblack; Eibl’s x Halfblack; Lemonpeel x Eibl’s; Flame x Potter’s; Flame x Sheppard’s; Coral Beauty x Sheppard’s; Herald’s x Bicolor and Venusta x Multibarred) that share the same geographic location. However, crosses between species inhabiting different oceans do not exist.

Resplendens fishers hybrid
Left: A male Resplendent and female Fisher’s pair. Right: 70-day-old juvenile Hawaiian Resplendent hybrid angels (just past metamorphosis)

I was successful pairing one of our Resplendent males, an Ascension island endemic, with a female Fisher’s angel, a Hawaiian island endemic. The two began spawning regularly this summer, producing enough hybrid fertile eggs to work with for short time. The time spent breeding this hybrid was not in vain. The juvenile prodigy developed well with a distinctively beautiful coloration found nowhere else.

Interesting Note
The growth and settlement time of the hybrid larvae is more similar to C. resplendens than C. fisheri larvae.

Joculator Angelfish – Centropyge joculator  (April 2006)

The Cocos Pygmy Angelfish is only known from Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Island in the southeastern Indian Ocean. The species most frequently inhabits steep rubble slopes and reef drops between 50 and 230 feet, where it forms harems of up to six individuals. The Cocos Pygmy Angelfish is rarely sin the trade; however, its is considered a relatively hardy species. Adults reach to 4.5 inches. While no distinct color differences exist, dorsal and anal fins are more elongate in males than in females.

Joculator angel
Left: A pair of Joculator Angelfish (male below female). Right: A 125-day-old juvenile Joculator Angelfish (just past metamorphosis)

My C. joculator pair was easily conditioned to produce large fertile spawns during our production periods. Unfortunately, the larvae proved exceptionally difficult to rear through the later post-larval stages. Good survival was obtained up to settlement, at which time the larvae went through an extended period of delayed metamorphosis that – similar to C. debelius – lasted over 50 days. Settlement is a critical period for most marine fish species and mortality increases the longer this process is delayed. As a result, only a few individuals became juveniles.

Debelius Angelfish – Centropyge debelius  (March 2006)

The Debelius Angelfish (also know an Blue Mauritius Angelfish) is and an exceptionally rare and gorgeous fish known only from Mauritius, Aldabra, Reunion and the Seychelles Islands. It inhabits outer reef drops and vertical walls at depths between 50 and 100 meters. Only single individuals have been observed to date, which may mean that that the principal breeding populations are located even deeper. The few individuals that have been kept in aquariums adapted well with or without live rock and thrived on conventional foods. The species grows to about 4″. C. debelius was first discovered by Helmut Debelius in 1988 and described a short time later by Richard Pyle in 1990.

Debelius angel
Left: A pair of Debelius Angelfish (female below male). Right: A 120-day-old juvenile Debelius Angelfish (just past metamorphosis)

Debelius larvae proved to be very difficult to raise compared to other Centropyge . Like the adults the juveniles are very robust and require cooler water temperatures (less than 77 F over long periods).

Interesting Note
The C. debelius larval period lasts a minimum of 110 days, the longest larval phase of the 14 pygmy angelfish species cultured  to date (2017).

Multibarred Angelfish – Paracentropyge multifasciatus  (September 2005)

The Multibarred Angelfish is widespread in the western Pacific, north to the Ryukus, Japan, east to the Society Islands to south the Great Barrier Reef. It also occurs at Cocos-Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean. This species can be found at depths from 40 to 230 feet where it inhabits caves and reef crevices. It can often be found swimming upside down under large overhangs colonized by sponges at outer reefs.

Multibarred angel
Left: A pair of Multibarred Angelfish. Right: 45-day-old juvenile Multibarred Angelfish (just past metamorphosis)

In the aquarium this species has a reputation for being timid and difficult to acclimate. In fact, my broodstock animals could not be coaxed to properly accept aquarium foods for six weeks. Sadly, most collected multibarred angels survive only a few weeks in captivity. I was excited to find that my captive-bred multibarred juveniles eagerly accepted aquarium foods and that the shy behavior often found in collected adults was absent.

Interesting Note
Juvenile Multibarred Angelfish can be distinguished from a adults by a reflective blue eyespot, edged with white anteriorly, at the back of the dorsal fin.

Colins Angelfish – Centropyge colini  (September 2005)

Colin’s angelfish is known from Cocos-Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Guam and Fiji in the Western Pacific. It is considered a deepwater angelfish species, occurring at depths between 120 and 250 feet. Here it usually inhabits caves and reef cracks where it grazes on macroalgae. C. colini may also feed on sponges.
CollectedC. colini are delicate, secretive fish that often suffer from decompression related problems. As a resulted most specimens entering the trade perish in captivity.

Colins angel
Left: A pair of Colini Angelfish. Right: 52-day-old juvenile Colini Angelfish.

Captive-bred C. colini juveniles to be far less secretive and timid than their wild-caught parent broodstock. They are curious, feed eagerly and coincide well with each other as well as interruptus and multi-barred juveniles. Aquarium foods consist of high quality micropellets, artemia nauplii, grated gel diets, crushed flaked foods high in marine algae and occasional feedings of frozen cyclopeeze. This is a tropical species that should be kept between 76 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Interesting Note
Centropyge larval species are usually quite difficult to distinguish prior to becoming post-larvae. C. colini is the only species I have worked on that develops long ray extensions on each pelvic fin early in the larval phase.

Colins angel larva
Left: A 25 day old Colini Angelfish larva (note the pelvic fin extensions). Right: A 24 day old Japanese Pygmy Angelfish larva.

Resplendent Angelfish – Centropyge resplendens  (August 2004)

The Resplendent Angelfish is only known from Ascension Island, mid Atlantic Ocean. It occurs on rocky sand beds at depths between 15 and 40 meters. Back in the 80’s and 90’s it was occasionally brought in to the United States. The Ascension government has since prohibited the collection and export of all reef life, including this species. The fish grows to about 3 inches. It prefers water between 74 and 80º F. Captive-bred specimens thrive on crushed flakes, small pellets (1 mm), grated gel diet, newly hatched baby brine shrimp and cyclo-peeze.

Resplendens angel
Left: A pair of Resplendent Angelfish. Right: 70-day-old juvenile Resplendent Angelfish.

Interesting Note
Resplendent Angelfish sub populations are also found on several seamounts off Brazil.

Japanese Pygmy Angelfish – Centropyge interrupta  (November 2002)

The Japanese Pygmy Angelfish is a stunning fish and 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. It thrives on a quality gel diet, small pellets, high-grade flakes and frozen adult brine shrimp. It reaches up to 6 inches in length.

Interruptus angel
Left: A pair of Japanese Pygmy Angelfish (male on right). Right: 65-day-old Japanese Pygmy Angelfish juveniles

Interesting Note
My wild adult broodstock required cooler water temperatures between 74 to 80º F but my first generation juveniles adapted and do well in water temperatures up to 82º F.

Multicolor Angelfish – Centropyge multicolor  (May 2002)

The Multicolor Angelfish was rare in the trade but is now more commonly available. This species has a relatively wide distribution, occurring from Palau to Tahiti and the Marshall Islands. It lives in deeper, 20 to 60 meter coral reefs.

Multicolor angel
Left: A pair of multicolor angels (male on right). Right: A 105-day-old multicolor juvenile

This species is exceptionally hardy and well suited for captivity. It thrives on gel diet, flakes and adult brine shrimp and prefers water temperatures from 76 to 81º F.

Interesting Note
Multicolor Angelfish larvae can take up to 55 days to complete metamorphosis when provided with improper settlement conditions.

Flame Angelfish – Centropyge loricula (March 2002)

The Flame Angelfish is arguable the most common and well know Pygmy Angelfish species in the trade. It is more omnivorous than most other pygmies (which are primarily herbivorous) and considered very hardy in captivity.

Flame angel
Left: A pair of Flame Angelfish (male on right). Right: A 90-day-old Flame Angelfish juvenile

This species prefers water temperatures between 77 and 82º F. It occurs from Palau to the Hawaiian Islands. It is usually collected for trade in the Christmas and Marshall Islands. Adults reach a maximum size of 4.5 inches.

Interesting Note
The Oceanic Institute first raised this species in January 2002.
Pacific Planktonics (Syd Kraul) intermittently produces C. loricula for the aquarium trade.

Lemonpeel Angelfish – Centropyge flavissima  (March 2002)

The Lemonpeel Angelfish ranks among the most heavily traded pygmies. It is hardy and less aggressive than many other pygmies. It thrives on a diet rich in algae. This species is widely distributed and is common throughout most of Melanasia and Micronesia. It prefers water temperature between 77 and 82º F.

Lemonpeel angel
Left: A pair of Lemonpeel Angelfish (male on left). Right: 80-day-old Lemonpeel Angelfish juveniles in hiding

Adults reach a maximum size of 5 inches. A harem of three Lemonpeel Angelfish spawned at my facility for over 5 years.

Interesting Note
Captive-bred juveniles loose their blue dot after just three weeks. Juveniles in the wild keep it much longer.

Fisher’s Angelfish – Centropyge fisheri  (November 2001)

The Fisher’s Angelfish (Centropyge fisheri) is a Hawaiian endemic species that is rarely seen in the aquarium trade. It is usually found on rubble bottoms on outer reef slopes at depths of 50-150 feet.

The eggs are spherical, colorless, contain a single oil globule and measure about 0.65 mm in diameter. Features of the larvae include conspicuous body spinules and head spination. Preflexion larvae are moderate bodied with reddish pigmentation. Postflexion larvae develop a deeper and more laterally compressed, silver colored body with brown pigmentation on the dorsal area.

The larvae are difficult to raise but will feed on copepods throughout the rearing phase. They start to settle near 40 dph (days post hatch) and complete metamorphosis in about 10-15 days, resulting in larval period of about 55 days.

Fisher's angel
Left: A pair of Fisher’s Angelfish (male on bottom). Right: 72-day-old Fisher’s Angelfish juveniles

C. fisheri is not a popular Centropyge due to its relative drab (brown) coloration. But the adults are hardy and easy to spawn in captivity and the larvae settle faster with less complications than many other Centropyge species cultured to date.

Interesting Note
The tank-raised juveniles spawned after just 230 days.