Queen Angelfish

The Queen Angelfish, with its gleaming blue bodies, yellow tails, and brilliant blue markings, is one of the most beautiful species in the sea.

Their family name (Pomacanthidae family) is derived from the Greek words poma “thorn” and canthidae meaning “cover.”

Referring to its preopercle spines that cover gills and allow them to breathe on land surfaces like stones or coral reefs heads where food may be found.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Queen Angelfish, including its habitat, best diet, and interesting facts.


Scientific NameHolacanthus ciliaris
Common NamesQueen Angelfish, Blue Angelfish, Golden Angelfish or Yellow Angelfish
FamilyMarine angelfishes
OriginWestern Atlantic ocean, Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean sea to Brazil, and South America, are usually found near the bottom of coral reefs.
AggressionThey can be aggressive with other angelfish, especially other queen angelfish.
Minimum Tank Size180 gallons
BreedingVery difficult to breed in captivity. Egg scatterer.
SizeUp to 18 inches (45 cm)
Life Span15 – 20 years, possibly longer
Diet  In the wild, It primarily eats finger sponges and sometimes marine fish
pH8.1 – 8.4
Temperature76° – 86° F (24° – 30° C)
Queen Angelfish Characteristics

Queen Angelfish Origins & Habitat

Holacanthus Ciliaris Origins
Holacanthus Ciliaris Origins by the Arctic Bay

Queen angelfish are fascinating fish that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida coast, and all along with Eastern Mexico to Central America.

They can also be found on the coastlines of countries such as Argentina’s northernmost islands, and Caribbean nations like those located near Jamaica or Puerto Rico.

blue angelfish
Where Does Blue Angelfish Golden Live by Wikipedia

These species blend in well with their surroundings in the ocean among the coral reefs, allowing these sly hunters to conceal themselves from predators when necessary.

Juveniles begin their lives in the water far above coral reefs, but as they mature and become adults, they spend the majority of their time at the sea bottom. Adult blue angelfish can be found anywhere from 3 to 230 feet deep (1 – 70 meters).

Queen Angelfish Life Cycle & Lifespan

The Life Cycle Queen Angelfish Holacanthus Ciliaris
Blue Angelfish Holacanthus Ciliaris by Marine fish EZ

Life Cycle

Queen angelfish become sexually mature in less than one year when they start to be territorial and aggressive towards others.

In their second year, they start to spawn regularly every two weeks. 

When selecting a cohabitant, the male will look around carefully for a potential partner before cleaning thoroughly to ensure there are no rivals in the vicinity of its partner’s territory.

After fertilizing the eggs, follow suit and deposit some Gammarus sayci onto these same spots. They will stay there until the eggs hatch, which should occur 30 minutes later.

The fry’s parents are in charge of their survival. The female will lay the eggs and fight off any danger threatening them, while the male regulates his territory.


Queen angelfish is one of the most long-lived fish in captivity or wild with proper care. 

They can live  15-20 years, making them great for anyone who doesn’t want their pet fish dying too soon.

What Are the Features of Queen Angelfish?

Dorsal and Anal Fins
The Appearance of Yellow Angelfish

Scales and Gills

Queen angelfish have a strong internal skeleton that supports their flexible fins, enabling them to control movement with precision.

They can breathe gas-filled swim bladders that allow for precise buoyancy adjustments, allowing them to pump water over gills without having to move forward (why they don’t have lungs).

Additionally, the layer of scales on queen angels’ skin protest them from bacteria or parasites.


When it comes to color, then the individuals from the Bahamas and Caribbean sea are said to be more colorful than those from continental coastlines.

It was previously considered two species, but it is now considered to be another hue variant of H. ciliaris. One of these first discovered species is yellow throughout and the other is green overall.

Both of them have blue and yellow trim on the median fins and only blue coloration around the mouth, on the gill cover, on the base of the dorsal and anal fins, and on the chest.

Also, it has been discovered that there are aberrant colored individuals in the eastern Atlantic ocean.

These angels are colored in a manner comparable to Japanese Koi since these tropical fish have hues that range from white to black with orange tints.

This might be the result of inbreeding, which may account for the strange appearance of these creatures.

In addition, there are several bizarrely colored fish that have been reported from South America. 

Some are dark blue on the head grading lighter towards their tails and pectoral fins which also possess an unusual white collar around their neckline.

Furthermore, another uncommon color variant has been described from Fortaleza, Brazil. 

These individuals have a blue ring around their eyes and odd blue patterns on their faces. 

Length & Weight

Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) is a beautiful, colorful fish that grows up to 18 inches (45 cm) long and weighs about 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg).

Queen Angelfish Availability

The Queen Angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris is a very popular reef fish and can be found in pet stores or online.

However, their pricing varies depending on the size as shown in the table below:

1.5 – 2.25 inches$356.99
2.25 – 3.25 inches$374.99
2.25 – 3.5 inches$389.99
3.25 – 4.25 inches$449.99
3.5 – 4.75 inches$431.99
4.25 – 5.25 inches$524.99
5.25 – 6.25 inches$599.99
6.25 -7.5 inches$689.99
7.5 – 8.5 inches$907.99
< 8.5 inches$1132.99
7 – 9 inches$2587.99
9 – 11 inches$2624.99
11 – 13 inches$2999.99
13 – 15 inches$3374.99

How to Care about Queen Angelfish?

blue and yellow
Is It Hard to Care About Queen Angelfish?

a.Water Requirements

1. Water Quality

Like all other angelfish species, the Queen Angelfish is very sensitive to water quality.

Therefore, you should do water changes every two weeks for tanks under 180 gallons (760 liters) and three to four times per month for bigger aquariums with a capacity of over 250 gallons (940 L).

Also, try as possible as you can to keep ammonia spikes, nitrite, and nitrate levels as low as possible. Using an ammonia, nitrite nitrate test kit will help you in monitoring the water conditions.

In addition, a suitable aquarium filter would help in getting rid of toxic chemicals and also help to maintain good water quality.

2. Water Temperature

Queen angels prefer warm temperatures similar to those found in their natural habitat. So, the temperature should be at least 75°F (25°C).

It’s critical to check the water temperature on a regular basis to ensure your fish’s health. Using an aquarium thermometer would help with this.

If you live in a cold environment, then you should consider using an aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature.

3. pH Level

When it comes to the pH level, queen angelfish can thrive in a slightly alkaline environment. Hence, it is essential to maintain your pH level to 8.

A pH test kit would help you in keeping your pH levels stable since any sudden changes in the pH level can affect the health of your angel.

b. Tank Setup

1. Tank size

Queen angelfish adults should only be kept in a large aquarium where they have lots of room to move about and conceal themselves if they are harassed.

In any aquarium less than 180 gallons they become stressed and start to show aggressive behavior towards other tank mates.

Juveniles can be grown in smaller tanks, but they will need to be moved to a bigger community tank after a few months.

2. Tank Decor

Queen angelfish that are kept in large tanks will thrive in an aquarium with ample rockwork and coral reef to give hiding places. They can also be maintained in artificial cave systems since they prefer them to natural ones.

However, in smaller tanks, especially those under 180 gallons (681 l), it is suggested that no other decorations be added except for a few rocks for hiding places.

3. Lighting

Although lighting is not important for queen angelfish, it is recommended to have a well-lit tank that will contribute to the health and growth of other inhabitants.

Queen Angelfish Diet

Western Atlantic
Queen Angelfish Diet

In the wild, queen angelfish feed on red algae from the genus Laurencia. However, they need a diet rich in vegetable matter with a marine algae emphasis to thrive in captivity.

You can offer your queen angels Nori or other seaweed sheets produced for human consumption, although this form of seaweed is considerably more difficult to obtain than the natural variety.

They should be fed this type of seaweed at least two times a week, and it should be cut into smaller pieces to easily fit into their mouths if necessary.

Also, these angels will enjoy brine shrimp and other similar foods such as mysis and cyclopeeze, which can be introduced a few times a week.

However, you should be aware that excessive amounts of protein may induce hepatic fat accumulation around the liver, making it difficult or impossible to function properly.

In many situations, nutritional blindness occurs when these kinds of ornamental fish are fed unusually high levels of protein.

Queen Angelfish Compatibility

What Tankmates Does the Queen Angelfish Get Along With
Queen Angelfish Holacanthus Ciliaris

Angelfish are compatible with other non-aggressive tank mates of similar size. Since smaller tank mates will be eaten as food for the angelfish.

They also should not be kept with other angelfish species, as they might cross-breed and you’ll end up with hybridized fish.

Queen Angelfish Best TankmatesQueen Angelfish Predators
Cardinalfishlarge groupers
Fairy Bassletsharks

Queen Angelfish Gender Difference

Queen Angelfish’s gender can be told apart by the dark blue ring around their dorsal and anal fins.

Males have a black band that makes them appear like they are wearing a tuxedo, whereas females do not. Queen angelfish males are also generally larger and have a longer snout.

Queen Angelfish Breeding

Queen Angelfish Breeding
Queen Angelfish Breeding

Although little is known about the queen angelfish’s breeding behavior, it may be assumed to be monogamous since it is frequently seen alone or in pairs in the ocean.

When the male and female fish are ready to spawn, they will place their bellies close next to each other. This is known as “close-fitting” in fisheries jargon.

A typical spawning cycle sees females laying 10 million eggs offspring over just 6 weeks.

The queen angelfish female lays oval-shaped eggs that float around in the ocean until they hatch after 15 to 20 hours. 

The larvae do not yet have any fins or eyes, but they consume their huge yolk sac for another 48 days before developing enough to eat plankton.

When it’s time, these fry can grow quite substantially – they may reach 20 mm / 0.6 inches long within a month with most living between 25 and 35 meters deep.

Are Queen Angelfish Hardy?

soft corals
How Hard Are Queen Angelfish

The Queen Angelfish are hardy fish, but it does require an aquarium of at least 180 gallons or more. This makes the maintenance process a bit difficult for some hobbyists.

For this reason, before adding them to your collection, you should be sure that your tank has adequate living area and filtration system capacity.

Are Queen Angelfish Reef Safe?

While juvenile queen angelfish are generally quite calm, adults will frequently cause issues. Since they would nip at stony corals or worms in the aquarium and sometimes even pick at gorgonians.

Queen Angelfish Possible Diseases & Treatment

The Diseases and Prevention of Queen angelfish
The Diseases and Prevention of Queen angelfish

Nutritional Blindness

Nutritional blindness is the most typical problem queen fish encounter when kept in captivity.

The occurrence of this disease is often due to a poor diet, which can be an issue in some ornamental fish tanks due to the excessive amount of protein in the food.

Symptoms of nutritional blindness include:

  • Pale, yellowish gills
  • An inflamed bladder
  • An excessive amount of mucus

If you discover any of these indications in your Queen Angelfish, you should increase the amount of live rock you have in the tank. You should also feed them less often, and only give them small meals of high-quality food that is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease is another frequent problem with captive-bred specimens.

It can be treated with calcium and vitamin D3–based medicines (use extreme caution when administering vitamin supplements in fish tanks).

Threats to the Queen Angelfish from Humans

Humans capture queen angelfish for the aquarium business because they are exceedingly common in saltwater aquariums, generally from the Caribbean and southern Florida. 

They’re also popular in the aquarium trade because they’re very easy to breed, although it is illegal to do so without a permit in Australia. However, queen angelfish are threatened by overfishing for food

In particular, they were once heavily harvested from Curaçao–in fact, this fish was the island’s largest export as recently as 1993. But they are now protected from harvest.

Pros & Cons of the Queen Angelfish


  • Easy to breed and maintain under captive condition
  • Extremely hardy fish once established in your saltwater aquarium
  • Not picky at all with what you feed them


  • Sometimes nips at stony and soft corals and worms, or Gorgonians (which makes them not reef safe!)
  • Nonexistent chance of survival if housed with large or territorial fish, such as lionfish
  • Very expensive
  • Don’t recommend keeping more than one Queen Angelfish in a tank, even if they are compatible with each other


How Long Do Queen Angelfish Live?

In captivity, the queen angelfish can live for up to 20 years with the proper care.

Are Queen Angelfish Shy?

Queen angelfish are shy, unlike some other angelfish species. They prefer to be alone or in a long-term monogamous pair.

Can I Keep a Queen Angelfish with Other Fish?

The Queen Angelfish is generally compatible with other peaceful community tank mates. However, it is not recommended to keep more than one Queen Angelfish in the same aquarium as they can be aggressive towards each other.

What Do Queen Angelfish Eat?

Queen Angelfish are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, both plant, and animal. In the wild, their diet consists of algae. In captivity, they should be fed a diet of high-quality pellets or flakes, as well as frozen or live foods.

How Big Do Queen Angelfish Get?

Queen Angelfish can grow to be up to 18 inches in length.

Do Queen Angelfish Have Any Natural predators?

Queen Angelfish do have natural predators, such as sharks and triggerfish.

Can Freshwater Angelfish Live in Saltwater?

No, they are only freshwater fish. Living in saltwater would be detrimental to their health.

Do Angelfish Sleep?

Angelfish do sleep, but not in the same way that humans do. They will enter a state of rest where they will suspend themselves in the water column or hide in caves or other dark areas.

During this time, they will be less active and their metabolism will slow down.

How Often Should I Feed My Angelfish?

Angelfish should be fed twice a day. It is best to feed them small amounts that they can eat in two minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and health problems for the fish.

Last Words

The Queen Angelfish is a beautiful and popular fish that is relatively easy to care for. They are hardy fish once established in your aquarium and can live for many years with the proper care.

However, they are not the easiest fish to breed and are very expensive. If you want to add a Queen Angelfish to your aquarium, be sure to do your research and be prepared to provide the proper care for this beautiful fish.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.