Angelfish have a poor, but occasionally well deserved, reputation in the marine hobby as complicated, large, and difficult to fish to care for. But they have a few cousins that are easy enough for even a beginner aquarist to take on. The Coral beauty is just such a fish and despite its exotic coloration it’s the hardiest Angelfish in the trade and well worth giving a chance to!
Getting to Know the Coral Beauty Angelfish
Angelfish are some of the showiest fish on the reef. They are typically large (8-24 inches), brilliantly colored, extremely confident, and fairly aggressive. They also tend to have highly specialized dietary needs, such as sponges or corals, and are highly intolerant of poor water conditions.
Fortunately, there is an entire genus of Pygmy Angelfish (Centropyge sp.) that are hugely popular for the reasons larger Angelfish aren’t. They are small, peaceful to semi-aggressive, still brilliantly colored, and much more resistant to shifting water parameters. A few, including the Coral Beauty, have even been bred in captivity. Captive breeding should always be encouraged to take pressure off of wild stocks.
The Coral Beauty is found throughout the IndoPacific Ocean, from the East African coast throughout Indian Ocean archipelagoes, and all the way to the Pacific island chains of French Polynesia, and other far-flung regions.
They are found in reef environments from near surface levels down to 150 feet. Like all Pygmy Angelfish the Coral Beauty is a grazer, feeding on bryozoans, algae, small polyps like hydra and young corals, and the occasional worm or small shrimp.
While they form social groups in the wild, they have very complex dynamics that are hard to replicate in the confines of a home aquarium. Their aggressive tendencies are the only real downside to keeping them; they are so charming you’ll want more than one. But unless your tank is on the larger side, you’ll have difficulty pulling it off. Let alone breeding them…
- Common Names: Coral Beauty, Dusky Angelfish, Two Spined Angelfish
- Scientific Name: Centropyge bispinosa
- Origin: IndoPacific Ocean
- Length: 3-4 inches
- Aquarium Size: 40-55 gallons
- Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive
- Ease of Care: Easy
Coral Beauty Angelfish Care
The Coral Beauty is one of the easiest Dwarf Angelfish species to care for. Territoriality is the main issue you need to be aware of. But if you’re only keeping one, you should have few to no issues!
As a species of Pygmy Angelfish, Coral Beauties are solidly average compared to the other dwarf species. At 3-4 inches long fully grown, they can be kept in aquariums as small as a 40 breeder. The footprint of a 40 breeder improves its carrying capacity despite its moderate volume.
A 55-75 gallon aquarium is even better for these highly active fish. And if you’re looking to keep more than one, you’ll want at least 80 gallons of space as they can fight to the death over territory.
Moderate to dim lighting is favored by them and it also helps algae to grow continuously. You should definitely be keeping Coral Beauties in tanks with live rock as well. Live rock provides a ready habitat for the encrusting organisms that they love to graze on!
The Coral Beauty is one of the most beginner-friendly Angelfish you can buy, which is saying something because the majority of Angelfish are on the sensitive side. You never want an Angelfish to be the first fish in any aquarium (due to New Tank Syndrome). But they are much more resistant to elevated levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates than their relatives.
That said, don’t skimp on the water changes, especially if your Coral Beauty has been recently imported and is already stressed from the rigors of travel. Once it’s been fully acclimated, it will be a hardy tank denizen that will entertain you for years to come. So aim for 0 ppm of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates for all of your fish.
Coral Beauties have no special requirements; temperatures of 72-78℉ are ideal for the majority of reef fish and the specific gravity (salinity) should fall between 1.020-1.025. While they do require trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other essential elements, any high quality marine salt closely matches the levels found in the ocean. Unlike corals, fish don’t absorb enough elements to seriously deplete these levels between biweekly water changes.
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Coral Beauties have no strong preferences when it comes to currents either. They tend to hug live rock grazing away so don’t provide currents that are too strong. They also spend most of their time near the bottom, occasionally straying into the middle layers of the tank. Low to moderate currents work best for them.
Are Coral Beauty Angelfish Reef Safe?
Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to definitively answer. It really depends on your setup, what and how often you feed, your corals, and the individual Angelfish itself.
Angelfish are generally a little troublesome because of their feeding habits. They are reef grazers, picking at algae, small polyps, detritus, and whatever else they find growing on rocks. Many of the larger Angelfish species will also pick at or eat coral polyps as well. But the dwarf Centropyge species are typically better behaved.
Coral Beauty Angelfish are reef safe: with caution. As long as you’re providing them with plenty of variety in the form of macro algae plus a standard prepared food blend, they should leave your corals alone. You can also try some of the more noxious-tasting corals, such as Toadstool and Leather Corals. They are most likely to try consuming some of the slime from the polyps of SPS corals and LPS corals, which is still stressful.
Tank Mates for Coral Beauty Angelfish
Coral Beauties save most of their aggression for each other and are peaceful towards non-Angelfish. That said, they are semi-aggressive fish and may give their tank mates a brief chase to secure a tasty patch of algae. Their personality makes them a great for both peaceful and semi-aggressive to aggressive fish.
Peaceful tank mates include smaller Clownfish, Yellowtail Blue Damselfish, Mandarin Gobies, Firefish Gobies, and Cardinalfish. However, more “personable” fish like larger Damselfish, Maroon Clownfish, Tangs, Dottybacks, and Royal Grammas can also work. Coral Beauty Angelfish get along just fine with marine shrimp, including the shy but brilliantly colored Blood Red Fire Shrimp!
Good Tank Mates for Coral Beauty Angelfish:
- Clownfish, Damselfish, Tangs, Grammas, Dottybacks, Gobies, Blennies, and other small to medium sized Community Fish
- Shrimp, Clams, Toadstool & Leather Corals, Starfish, Sea Urchins, and other Invertebrates
- SPS and LPS Corals (with caution)
Poor Tank Mates for Coral Beauty Angelfish:
- Lionfish, Marine Bettas, Groupers, and other Predators
- Other Pygmy Angelfish (unless you take steps to minimize aggression)
- Other Coral Beauty Angelfish
Keeping Pygmy Angelfish Together
If you’re looking to keep more than one Pygmy Angelfish, know that it can be done but it’s not always easy. Like Tangs, Angelfish see both their own kind and related species as competitors that need to be chased off.
As grazers, they rely on a slowly regenerating food source and a large patch of land to feed off of. The more they have to share with other grazers, the less food they have so they evolved to be very territorial.
In the wild, there is enough space for their social dynamics to work themselves out and for small harems to form. Coral Beauties have the ability to change sex through social situations. All Angelfish are born female. But the dominant Angelfish of a group will change sex and become a male over the course of a month. They form organizations of one male to several females on a reef. But in the confines of an aquarium, you’re asking for trouble in any tank smaller than 80 gallons.
You stand a fair chance of success keeping Coral Beauties with other Pygmy Angelfish so long as they are radically different in color. Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula), Midnight Angelfish (Centropyge nox), Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissima) and other striking fish are all great tank mates if you want to start a Pygmy Angelfish setup. But be ready to separate them if fights break out.
Large aquariums with plenty of reef space for all will ensure that you succeed in keeping them together. Introducing your Angelfish at the same time also helps because this way they all start out on the same foot. Having an Angelfish that’s already established can be trouble because the newcomer has no claim on the turf and it will be continually harassed by your resident Angelfish.
Feeding Coral Beauties
Grazing Pygmy Angelfish crave variety in their diets because they eat a little bit of everything that they find on coral and live rock. Algae, tiny coral polyps, worms and other invertebrates…They’re willing to eat any sort of encrusting algae or invertebrate that doesn’t taste too foul.
Some of the best food sources for them include macro algae, which is a catchall term for any large, plant-like algae. Macro algae is extremely nutritious for both fish and people. It can be purchased dried into strips just like the nori used in sushi preparation!
- Breeding, Quarantine, & Refugium capabilities
- Water Pump & Finnex Fuge RAY included
- Increased Water Flow Model
If you’re interested in growing additional varieties and providing fresh produce for your Coral Beauty, consider setting up a refugium instead! A refugium is similar to a protein skimmer in that it helps to export nutrients out of the aquarium ecosystem.
Only instead of relying on mechanical filtration a refugium relies on living organisms to lock away the nutrients. It’s a nod to the balancing act that interconnected organisms in natural ecosystems rely on.
Fast-growing soft corals like Kenya Tree Coral are a good choice for them…As are macroalgae like Chaetomorpha and Caulerpa sp. Combined with occasional feedings of brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and a high-quality pellet or flake, you’ll be able to provide them with all the nutrition they need!
Several small feedings a day is better for them than one large feeding as it mimics their natural grazing behavior. A single feeding may leave them hungry later on and more willing to pick at your corals.
Breeding Coral Beauty Angelfish
Breeding Coral Beauty Angelfish is the only truly difficult part of keeping these gorgeous fish. They are just too aggressive in the confines of most home aquarium systems. In the wild, they can take the time they need to retreat and change sex as required to form pair bonds. Breeding tends to occur in tanks larger than 100 gallons as a result, since the fish can go for a long time without encountering each other.
Another challenge to breeding them is that these fish rely on lunar cues to coordinate their gamete production. Many reef animals rely on the moon to regulate spawning, from fish and shrimp to corals and jellyfish. Since aquariums don’t have regular tides or moonlight to signal to the Coral Beauties when the right time to release their eggs into the water column is, they simply don’t spawn.
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That said, captive breeding efforts are starting to succeed in tropical countries like Indonesia where the rearing tubs can be kept outdoors year-round. The phases of the moon help signal to the fish when the time is right. And they then release their pelagic eggs into the water column where they float and hatch, becoming part of the zooplankton soup (infusoria) that wafts about the reef.
The planktonic phase Coral Beauties go through also make spawning a challenge since filters and protein skimmers are likely to pick them up before or after hatching. There is also little in the way of plankton and other organisms for them to feed on in most aquariums.
It takes a month for baby Coral Beauties to grow large enough to even be visible to the naked eye! At this point, they can be fed live brine shrimp nauplii, copepods, and other tiny invertebrates. Over the course of two more months, the young Coral Beauties grow, color up, and become more recognizable as Angelfish!