Flame angelfish: habitat, characteristics and care

The flame angelfish is a striking species due to its bright red colors and is part of the dwarf angelfish family. It is an important ornamental fish, as it is very popular among lovers of aquariums. Unfortunately, due to their characteristics, not everyone can keep these animals healthy in the home environment.

Flame angelfish

The flame angelfish belongs to the Pomacanthidae family, which includes several species similar in shape, but different in coloration. Specifically, in this space we will talk about Centropyge loriculus, so read on to learn more about this enigmatic fish.


OriginIndo-Pacific as far north as the Hawaiian Islands
Tank LevelAll levels
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
BreedingRarely breeds in captivity
Temperature75–80 degrees Fahrenheit (25–27 degrees Celsius)

Habitat of the flame angelfish

Flame angelfish

This small fish has a preference for slightly deep habitats, which can range from 5 to 60 meters deep. It is possible to find this fish in central and western regions of the Pacific, ranging from eastern Indonesia to the Marquesas Islands. For this reason, it is quite common in the islands of French Polynesia, which are tropical regions.

Physical characteristics

This fish has a flattened body, with a crest-like dorsal fin and a smaller anal fin, which end where its tail begins. The pectoral fins are quite small and translucent and are accompanied by caudal fins just below, which resemble “hairs” or a kind of beard.

Its size can reach 15 centimeters long, but in the tanks it is usually around 8 or 10 centimeters, depending on the availability of food and the size of the habitat. In addition, its mouth contains several tricuspid teeth, which serve to better grind its food.

Flame angelfish

This fish stands out for its bright red-orange coloration, with 4 or 5 black lines on each side of the body. Its dorsal and anal fins present an alternating pattern between black and purple tones. On the other hand, its caudal fin (tail) is translucent, with less bright orange tones.

A new species of flame angelfish?

This small animal has a different coloration when it comes from the Marquesas Islands, since it does not present black lines and exhibits a more predominant red tone. Aquarium lovers call this organism as “Hawaiian form”, because of its difference with the original tones.

Unfortunately, the reason why the fish has this difference in color is not yet known, however, a hypothesis has been proposed. According to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, it seems to mean that the fish is differentiating, or in other words, a new species is forming. This means that in the future there may be a new type of flame angelfish.

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While this is exciting, it is likely that we will not see such evolutionary differentiation. These kinds of processes take a long time, and speciation does not take place completely until the selected populations are unable to reproduce with each other.

Flame angelfish

Behavior of flame angelfish

The genus Centropyge is characterized by solitary fish, which only interact with each other during the courtship season. The species in question here, on the other hand, spends most of its time searching for food and feeding, without straying too far from its reef.

Although much is unknown about their biology, it is suspected that the coloration may be intended to communicate with their own species. Furthermore, it is believed that variation in coloration over time may play an important role during reproduction, but research is still inconclusive.

Flame angelfish care and feeding

It could be said that this fish has a fairly varied diet, consisting of algae and various invertebrates. In fact, it is known to attack sponges and corals, eating parts of them. This is one of the reasons why specimens often have conflicts when they are in fish tanks.

In fact, for reproduction, these organisms need to consume large amounts of fatty acids. This is because the composition of the yolk that makes up the eggs is better when the mother’s diet increases fat intake. In other words, the survival of the offspring will depend on the maternal diet.

Reproduction of flame angelfish

The mating ritual of this organism is carried out by territories, in which each male has a harem of between 4 and 7 females. This grouping is formed by recitation, in which the male shows off his charms while conquering his mates.

This species is very well adapted, as it is able to change sex if necessary. All specimens are protandric hermaphrodites, which means that they are born female, but have the ability to become males. Thus, if a harem loses its male, a female can replace him, becoming the new owner of the group.

According to a study published in the scientific journal Journal of ethology, the change can be rapid and in approximately 20 days the former female becomes a male capable of mating. Moreover, this behavior can take place without the need for the original male to disappear.

These organisms are fish-producing machines, as they can reproduce daily. They do not have a specific time for this – since they do not need it – and the members of the harem are able to spawn once a day, producing between 100 and 1000 eggs each.

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Each egg can measure between 0.65 and 0.75 millimeters and hatches 14 to 16 hours after fertilization. The larvae that hatch barely exceed one millimeter in length, but after 72 hours it is an organism capable of feeding on its own.

The development of this type of fish is very fast, since between 60 and 110 days the larva becomes an adult.

Care of the Flame Angelfish

Like most marine fish, flame angels are very complicated to keep, because they are sensitive to changes in their environment. Therefore, the best thing to do is to have devices that constantly measure water quality.

To begin with, the tank should be at least 300 liters, with enough decoration to resemble its natural habitat. A good strategy is to have a rock with living elements that serve as a refuge for the fish to reduce its stress. Although some fish can live with corals and sponges, this depends on the temperament of the specimen, so it is not recommended keeping them in this environment.

Variables to be met by water

In order to keep this organism healthy, the following water requirements must be met as a minimum:

  • Temperature: 72-78℉,
  • Specific gravity: 1.020-1.025.
  • PH: 8.0-8.4

What do flame angelfish eat?

As for its diet, this species is able to adapt to commercial products, however, it also eats algae that are generated inside the tank. Therefore, having good lighting is essential to supplement their diet.

Care must be taken with the latter, as only adult specimens are able to adapt. Juveniles, on the other hand, have their diet based on zooplankton. Therefore, if care is not taken, they can die in just a few days. It is for this reason that the use of live food -such as copepods- should be taken into account to safeguard their health.

The latter can be very helpful, but it is not a guarantee that the fish will survive. Remember that it is out of its habitat and due to lack of information it is not yet possible to know how to supply 100% of its natural nutrition.

The worst enemy: stress

This fish, like many others, can suffer from stress when it arrives to its new home. Therefore, it is important that you follow all the necessary steps to acclimate the new member of the tank. In addition, by that time you should have the entire habitat prepared, with enough structures in which it can take refuge, so that it feels comfortable.

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It may seem simple, but this process can be deadly if not done properly. Fish that are territorial often suffer greatly when removed from one habitat, so they need time and space to acclimate to the new one.

The importance is centered on the fact that stress is capable of lowering the fish’s defenses, causing it to get sick. That is why these animals are not suitable for first-time owners, since lack of knowledge often leads to a fatal outcome.

Although there are species with incredible and beautiful shapes, not all of them are suitable for pets. In particular, marine species are quite difficult to handle, as their environment must be controlled to perfection. Remember that in the end, it is not only money that is at stake, but a life depends entirely on you. Inform yourself to make the best decisions.