The Blue Angelfish is one of the most beautifully vivid fish in rocky reefs known for its graceful swimming style.
Blue Angelfish is a saltwater fish, typically found in the tropical western Atlantic Ocean. These fish are not distributed extensively through the Bahamas as well as along the coasts of North and South America from North Carolina to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
In recent years, it has become known as the Bermuda Blue Angelfish to help distinguish it from other species of angelfish.
This is a hardy species of fish that is suggested for aquarists with experience. The two main difficulties with keeping a Blue Angelfish are its size and temperament. These fish can grow to a maximum length of 18“(45cm) which requires a large tank at least 180-gallons (680 litres) in size. They are also well-known for being quite aggressive towards peaceful species and fish of similar and smaller size.
According to the IUCN, The Blue Angelfish is neither on the endangered nor vulnerable list and is commonly collected for display in home and commercial aquariums. If trying to startle predators or attract attention, this fish is known to create a loud, thumping sound.
This care guide will help you to understand how to properly care for Blue Angelfish.
Blue Angelfish Facts
The Blue Angelfish (Holacanthus Bermudensis) is a small, ray-finned fish with an oval-shaped body and extended dorsal and anal fins. This fish is a popular addition to aquariums due to its beautiful colouration, a combination of blue and green hues with yellow edges.
They can be easily confused with their close relative, the Queen Angelfish. The Blue Angelfish can be distinguished by their light blue pectoral fin tipped in yellow and a blue tail with a yellow margin. The Blue Angelfish does not have a mark on their heads compared to the Queen Angelfish’s crown of black with a blue margin. It is important to note that hybrids of the two species are common and can be difficult to distinguish.
The Blue Angelfish has an average body size of 13” (35cm) and can grow to a maximum length of 18” (45cm). For their best chance to acclimate to a new tank and accept aquarium food, it is recommended to acquire them between 2.5” – 5”” (6cm – 13cm) in length. A Blue Angelfish has an average lifespan of 20 years in captivity and can exceed this when cared for properly.
Blue Angelfish Care
As a general rule, a 180-gallon (680 litres) tank is the minimum size required for an adult Blue Angelfish. Due to their size, a larger tank is required to ensure they have enough room for proper physical growth and psychological development. If they are kept in a tank that is too small, their growth can be stunted leading to a decrease in their life span. Being a very sedentary fish that swims slowly, they prefer to live in environments with little to no water movement.
The optimal water temperature for a Blue Angelfish is between 70°F – 82°F (21.1°C – 27.8°C) as they originate from tropical environments. They are recommended for aquarists with experience because they need to be in an environment with high-quality water which can be difficult to maintain. An environment with poor quality water can lower their immune system due to the stress that it causes them, ultimately resulting in illness. The recommended pH level for a Blue Angelfish is 8.0 – 8.4. It is essential that the pH level of their environment never falls below 8.0 and is best managed by changing 10-15% of the tank’s water every fortnight as opposed to using chemicals.
In their natural habitat, they are a benthic species that can be found at the bottom of coastal rocky reefs in rocks, sponge, or coral formations. In captivity, Blue Angelfish love similar hiding spots, preferably among an arrangement of live rocks. As they are large fish once matured, the rock placements must be planned to provide them with enough space to move. The Blue Angelfish is a shallow dwelling fish that relies on sunlight to absorb essential vitamins and stay healthy. As this process is important for their survival, it is recommended that their tank be fitted with a minimum of a sunlight bulb or a high-quality spectrum bulb.
The Blue Angelfish is not considered a reef-safe specimen. It is possible to keep a juvenile in a coral reef as this is their habitat in the wild. However, fully grown Blue Angelfish will destroy coral reefs, feeding on polyps of hard and soft coral. It is possible that a captive-bred or well-fed, mature specimen could be reef safe however this cannot be guaranteed, and they would need to be monitored closely.
Blue Angelfish Food & Diet
The Blue Angelfish is an omnivore, thriving on a diet that is primarily plant material and supplemented with meaty substances. This is seen as the ideal ratio of protein to vegetable material due to adults in the wild being found to have 80% or more of their stomach contents consisting of sponges. In captivity, fully grown Blue Angelfish can eat nori, sheets of dried algae in a variety of colours, and even fresh, uncooked broccoli which provides them Vitamin A and C which they find essential for healthy survival. They will also accept flakes, tablets, and pellets, just ensure that it is high quality and contains sponge material and Spirulina.
It is important that Blue Angelfish are not fed a high protein diet which can cause nutritional blindness due to creating a fatty deposit around their liver. This typically occurs after they have been in captivity for 6-8 months. Fully grown Blue Angelfish can be fed small quantities of meaty foods such as brine shrimp and fresh or frozen seafood.
Juvenile Bule Angelfish are cleaner fishing, establishing “cleaning stations” in coral heads or boulders. The young fish will feed on the external parasites that are picked from the bodies of large fish that use their station.
In their natural habitat, these fish are typically grazing on sponges and coral around rock beds. To support their grazing behaviour, provide them with plenty of live rocks growing natural macroalgae. The Blue Angelfish is a diurnal species, moving around and eating during the day whilst sleeping at night. This activity schedule combined with their grazing behaviour means it is best to feed your Blue Angelfish multiple small meals throughout the day, rather than one or two meals.
Blue Angelfish Tank Mates
One of the main difficulties of keeping Blue Angelfish is their aggressive temperament towards other fish and marine animals. It is particularly worse in juveniles and males due to them becoming extremely territorial. The ideal tank mate for a Blue Angelfish is similarly aggressive fish such as clownfish, dottybacks, damselfish, tangs, and wrasses. For the best success, it is recommended that the Blue Angelfish be added last to a tank with similar temperament species.
Their aggressive behaviour means they cannot be kept with species that are docile, slow-moving, or smaller species. Gobies, seahorses, pipefish, dartfish, and fairy wrasses are example of incompatible tank mates for a Blue Angelfish. These kinds of tank mates would be easy targets for the Blue Angelfish to bully and attack.
If you place to keep a Blue Angelfish in a community tank with smaller fish, ensure that you provide a large tank that have plenty of spots for smaller species to hide from them. Providing these will help to reduce their aggressive behaviour but it is still important to monitor the health of all fish. Blue Angelfish are most likely to become stressed if they are kept with incompatible tank mates which can lead to illness and diseases.
Many aquarists keep Blue Angelfish in pairs with one fish being slightly smaller than the other. These pairs are typically mated. A pair of Blue Angelfish will require a minimum tank size of 220-gallon (830 litre). It is recommended to add the smaller fish to the tank first and let is acclimate to the tank’s environment for 30 minutes before adding the larger fish. If possible, try to create a barrier between the two to observe their behaviour and temperament towards each other before letting them interact.
Blue Angelfish Breeding
Blue Angelfish are typically found in pairs, suggesting that they engage in monogamous relationships. There has been evidence in certain areas of a single male found in a group of multiple females however this is not common.
There is little information available about breeding this species of angelfish in captivity. The available information suggests that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to breed Blue Angelfish in captivity.
Many Blue Angelfish owners can agree that this is a beautiful and elegant fish to add to your tank if you have the space. But they are an expensive investment. If you are looking to purchase a Blue Angelfish in a pet store, you can expect to pay between $150 – $350USD depending on the size of the fish.
The Blue Angelfish is not a species that is recommended for aquarists with little experience. They require a specific diet and water parameters to remain healthy well as a very large tank and equally aggressive tank mate. But despite their difficulties, the Blue Angelfish’s beautiful colouring and elegant swimming make it a very popular addition to personal and commercial aquariums.