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Flame Angelfish : Facts On The Stunning Flame Angelfish

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Flame Angelfish


Flame Angelfish Facts

Scientific Name : Centropyge Loriculus
Origin : Hawaii, Christmas Islands, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands
Difficulty : Easy to Medium. Depends on the health and condition of the specimen
Minimum Size Tank : At least 50 gallons
Temperament : Semi-Aggressive
Temperature : 72 - 82°F
Reef Safe : With caution
Maximum Size
: 4 Inches
Diet : Omnivore

Probably the most spectacularly colored member of the genus Centropyge (The dwarf angelfish family), the flame angelfish has become one of the most recognizable marine fish in the industry. Almost everyone in the hobby has at one time or another either purchased one or considered getting a flame angelfish. That says a lot about this fish.

Flame Angelfish in a reef aquarium


I'd say in terms of price, the flame angel sits comfortably within the $40 to $50 USD bracket which is very slightly on the high side. I say very slightly because its well below the price range of other rarer dwarf angelfish such as the multicolor angel or the golden angel.

Although it is commonly stated that the flame angel hails from Hawaii, it is actually collected around Cook Island, Marshall Island and Christmas Island. Flame angelfish from Hawaii are rare and are supposed to have a very specific coloration and body pattern : All red with thin narrow stripes.

I've personally never seen one in real life so i cannot comment on my likes or dislikes on Hawaiian Flames. But from photo's ive seen of them, they really are all red. No orange whatsoever.

Flame Angelfish : Temperament

Like many marine angelfishes, the flame angel can get rather aggressive. Especially towards other members of the genus. In a small tank, with no other competitors, there is a very good chance the flame angelfish will start bullying its smaller or less aggressive tankmates.

Most people only add dwarf angelfish last into their saltwater aquarium, giving their other fish time to get well established. If a Flame angel was your first addition and you planned on adding other fishes, there's usually hell to pay. This applies to tanks smaller than a 75 gallon. One Flame Angel per tank is general rule of thumb, unles of course they are a mated pair. Otherwise there will be definite signs of hostiliy between the two. One of them may even end up getting killed.

A Flame Angelfish in a 180g

Flame Angelfish : Tank Size

An aquarium no smaller than 50 gallons should be used to house a flame angelfish. I've heard others that recommend 30 gallons but that is the absolute lower limit when it comes to these saltwater angelfish. Not to mention the bullying that will occur if there are other smaller fishes in the tank. Ideally, you want something like a 75 gallon or larger.

They require holes, nooks and crannies to dart in and out of so adjust your liverock to this type of scape. If you have corals beware! Flame angels can (but not always) begin nipping on your corals. Every single member of the genus is prone to this kind of behaviour. No exceptions. There have been stories of dwarf angels that leave corals alone for years only to turn on them overnight. That's just how it goes with these guys.

A Flame Angelfish picking off live rock and the substrate

Flame Angelfish : Diet

Angelfish from the genus centropyge are all grazers in the wild. They constantly scan the rock for food items throughout the day, much like surgeonfish. They consume algae, tiny crustaceans and sometimes even detritus.

In a saltwater aquarium they should be given a balanced diet. A wide range of foods should be given, variety is important. Feeding them a specific food for too long can be detrimental to their health. Although there have been hobbyists that have fed them new life spectrum for long periods of time with no ill effects. It seemed like they were doing great in fact.

They should be offered a good pellet brand like New Life Spectrum, a balanced frozen food with both meat and algae (Formula two, Mysis Shrimp, Krill) and algae/nori sheets if possible.

A very good food for dwarf angels is the Pygmy Angel Formula, produced by Ocean Nutrition. Ingredients such as kelp, krill, squid,squid, vitamins and minerals and much more are used in this frozen food. The cubes are frozen after these ingredients have been mixed into it. Pygmy Angel Formula is only available in frozen form i believe.

I am not a fan of brine shrimp as nutritionally, they don't offer much. Adult frozen artemia do not offer much more to the fish than roughage, which is fibre. They can get fiber just fine from krill or mysis shrimp, both superior foods.

Enriched brine shrimp should be chosen for your dwarf angelfish if you insist on feeding artemia. Brine shrimp that were feed something nutritious like spirulina prior to freezing are known as enriched brine shrimp. So are simply a vessel housing nutrition.

Newly hatched brine shrimp are also quite nutritious, as long as their yolk sacs are still in place. Once their yolk sacs are used up, they don't offer much apart from roughage.

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A wild caught mated pair of flame angels

Flame Angel : Breeding

Breeding the centropyge loriculus has only been pulled off successfully by a handful of people. And these people had a lot of money powering their effort, i'm talking state university type funding.

Breeding in the wild takes place after the sun sets. The female or females (they're haremic) wait for the arrival of the male each evening. After the male chooses to breed with one of them he nudges the female up the water column until they are properly positioned to release both sperm and eggs. The fertilized eggs float up to the ocean surface where they float until they hatch or are eaten. Upon hatching they begin feasting on the planktonic soup that is present at the surface. Which is mainly larvae from other fishes and invertabrates. It is not clear at what point (or at what age) they begin migrating back down towards the reef but such an event must occur.

Joculator Dwarf Angelfish Spawning

To furthur illustrate how they spawn i've added a video to the right capturing a different species spawning. Those two are Centropyge Joculator. They are very rare and they are very expensive. They easily go for more than 10 times the retail price of a flame angelfish.But enough about the Joculator, back to breeding.

I mentioned earlier that there were only a handful of people that managed to breed flame angels. Why so few? How did they do it? The secret was the food they used as feed for the larvae. It is an undisclosed type of copepod nauplii, that's right, not the tiny copepods, but their babies. The find was a monumental breakthrough in this area of research. Frank Baensch of the now defunct Reef Culture Technologies (Hawaii) was one of three that collaborated towards the effort. As a result, R.C.T was able to raise not just the flame angelfish but a host of other dwarf angelfish inculding rare species such as the Japanese Pygmy Angelfish (Centropyge Interruptus).

Unfortunately R.C.T closed its doors a few years ago though it is still pending a reopening, much to our delight. Captive breeding by them enabled anyone with a few hundred bucks to get their hands on some truly rare species of dwarf angelfish that would otherwise end up somewhere in Hong Kong or Japan where they are sold for OBSCENE prices. That's where most of the worlds rarest marine angelfish end up by the way, Hong Kong and Japan. They go where the big money is.

Meanwhile, hobbyists are still trying their hand at the task but have faced nothing but failure. Larvae fed on rotifers are almost certain to perish.and its looking like an impossible task for the serious hobbyist or even the small scale breeder. The key, has to be the food. If we knew just what copepod they were breeding for feed, hobbyists might just have a break. Until then we're left with buying them from retailers, and dreaming of the rare and exquisite Centropyge Interruptus in our tanks.


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hello on March 07, 2017:

I do not know what thispage is talking about

Rodd on March 04, 2013:

what's wrong with my flame angel swimming at the top some white looking film on him, as i found my purple dotty dead this evening, looks as if hes dying what can i do to save him

wilf on November 12, 2012:

fish fish fish fish fish i want that fish

Tim on September 29, 2012:

@Nell Walker- Based on my knowledge and experience, a flame angel would be fine. Flames can sometimes be aggressive but not outright (usually anyway) to any of the fish you've listed. This risk is greatly depreciated based on the fact it would the last (newest) fish added. Similarly, they are 50-50 hit or miss when it comes to reef systems. There are certain corals they are more likely to target, in my experience and understanding, mushroom corals are never on this list. I would however exercise great caution on adding more species of corals should you choose to add the Flame Angel.

neil walker on July 14, 2012:

are flame angels compatible with grammar loreto, fire fish goby, orange lined wrasse regal tang and blood shrimps and cleaner shrimps?

i also have many ricordea florida corals (mushroom corals) i would like a flame angel but im not sure if i will have problems. I have researched and they all say that it is reef safe, but that is not enough because i want to know compatability with those in my tank.

I have a 90 Gallon tank and im really hoping the flame angel will not disrupt my peacefull aquarium.

PirateFX (author) on April 27, 2012:

@eGarret - How big is the aquarium? Flame's can be territorial but until you "see" it going after the Tang its difficult to know for sure.

eGarrett on April 17, 2012:

Hi, we have a 180ltr tank (don't know how many gallons that is) and in addition to a yellow tang and two clown fish which we have had for 5 months we recently added a flame angelfish. Everything was fine for a couple of days until today where we find the tang has gone pale, with orange patches but has a very grey face. We think it's nutritional so we went out to buy some nori. We were gone for 20 minutes and when we got back we found him attached to a blower thinking he's dead. He's alive but looking in a terrible state. Weve put him in a fish bag because he is really too weak to even swim. We noticed earlier on today a nibble out of the flame angels tail. And after all this commotion we have noticed chunks out of the tang that weren't there before we went out. Could the flame angel be attacking the tang? If so is there any way they can be friends??!! In desperate need of advice!!

tbranston on April 06, 2012:

We have a smaller tank with a Pajama cardinal, a Bengali Cardinal, an Algae Blenny, and our prized fish, the flame angel. Lots of live rock and some Zoanthids finish off the setup. The fish is stunning, and initially I balked at the price , but I am so glad I made the purchase.

PirateFX (author) on January 13, 2012:

Thanks For The update Troppo

Troppo on January 12, 2012:

If you want to update your comments on the copepod, the species in question is Parvocalanus crassirostris (Bestiolina similis) also works. Both are paracalanid copepods from the Calanoida order of copepods. The biggest issue with the flames is not really the diet (the copepods are pretty easy to culture) more the 70-80 day larval cycle. They are extremely fragile up until metamorphosis and can have high mortality with any slight changes in water quality. After metamorphosis they are fairly robust.

PirateFX (author) on April 10, 2011:

@Hailey B - Depends on how big the tank is to be honest. If both the angelfish are the same species then things become very tricky. They need to be a mated pair before putting them in, or there will be fireworks and potential death.

Hailey B. on April 10, 2011:

so can two angelfish be in the same tank? if not i only want the flame but also if a tank is cycled and about 4 weeks old can you still get the angel?

PirateFX (author) on February 21, 2011:

@Anderson - They can only live in saltwater.

Anderson rivera on February 21, 2011:

can they live in fresh water ?

brad23 on February 09, 2011:

my lfs have the hawaii flame angelfish in at the moment and they are all red, there about £60 each. i'm thinking of getting one soon

Basim ANSARI from K.S.A on February 24, 2010:

nice hub and great information

PirateFX (author) on June 29, 2009:

Hi Brian, as far as i know all herbivorous fish can be fed spirulina. Sometimes even carnivores accept it, i had two tank raised orchid dottybacks that ate spirulina. As for color enhancement, that's a good question. We keep hearing how spirulina enhances colors almost everywhere on the internet and we simply accept that fact. I'm going to do further research and perhaps create a hub on the topic. Thanks for the questions.


brianhlogan on June 29, 2009:

Hi, Great Hub on the flame angel fish! I have been keeping and maintaining fresh water aquariums for a few years now but have been pondering on trying out a marine setup. The colors on those marine dwarf angelfishes look fantastic! I hope you don't mind me asking a newbie question. Can the marine fishes, especially the angelfish species be fed spirulina? Will it enchance the colors on the fishes (not that it needs more color enhancement but I am curious :) ) ?

cheers, Brian

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