Centropyge in marine aquariums: which ones and how many?

Centropyge in acquario marino: quali e quanti inserirne? - Centropyge loriculus
Centropyge loriculus

Here we are with the third episode about the species that you can insert in marine aquarium. Today we’re talking about the dwarf angel fish, or the Centropyge.

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This article is also available in: italiano


I’ve always loved aquariums full of fish, as if you were diving in tropical seas. I’ve always had a lot of them, the important thing is knowing which one you can insert and respecting them, obviously.

At the end, it’s all an exercise of equilibrium and proportions. A big fish in a small aquarium it’s not that nice to see and it’ll also make your aquarium appear even smaller than it is, wherever the beauty of the fish. Moreover, a lot of fish that don’t fit for their size, for example some surgeonfish, become very aggressive and can attack other fish, they can get sick frequently, infecting then the other specimens too. Then you have to consider the biological niches, for which it would be totally useless, for example, insert 20 angelfish and then complain that the noone swims in the upper part of the aquarium. Then you have to consider the colors, because some fish get very aggressive towards specimens with similar liveries. And scool fish have to stay in scool… and so on. But let’s continue with order.

Is there a maximum number of fish that can be kept in a marine aquarium? No, there isn’t. If you wat to obtain the maximum from your aquarium, you have to study, know and respect the fish. Choose them wisely.

The introduction is the same for all the articles of this series

The Centropyge or dwarf angel fish

The Centropyge belongs to the family of the Pomacanthidae, but due to their characteristics they have to be dealt alone. They’re small angel fish, and they share habis and behavior with their bigger relatives. But differently from them, they stay very small and they’re perfect even for marine aquariums of small dimensions. Well… almost perfect. But we’ll see why later.

They’re very colorful fish, rarely they grow over 12 cm of length, and they’re very active and tireless swimmers. They usually don’t swim in open sea, so they’ll prefer to stay close or inside the rocks.

Centropyge flavissimus
Centropyge flavissimus

They’re solitary animal and very combactive against similar fish, especially if they’re other Centropyge. Other than that, they’re calm and little aggressive. They tolerate well even fish of he same species, as long as they’ve different colors. The Centropyge could be a little troublesome to to feed, but ask the seller to see the fish while eating before you buy it, also because a fish that doesn’t eat could not only be problematic, but also not in health. They all come from the Indopacific and, except from the Centropyge resplendens, none have been found in the Atlantic Ocean. Generally they can be inserted in marine aquariums of al least 100 liters, even if, as always, you have to check the specific preferences for each species because there are always exceptions.

The main problem with Centropyge

There aren’t roses without thorns. The Centropyge, unfortunately, as well as the other angel fish, really love sponges. They can be selective about their likings, and that would be a relative problem, but they often love to try the polyps of the corals, the longest ones in particular, so the main part of the hard corals LPS and some soft coral are in strong risk. Let’s say that if they’re well feed the possibility isn’t so high, but it may always be, even if they’ve been in the same aquarium for years. One day they decide to try this beautiful Acanthastrea and then it’s a nightmare. But in general hard corals SPS can resist.

Speaking of probability, always considering that every animal is different, we can say that the Centropyge bicolor is the one most at risk, while the Acanthops is the reef-safer. I have to say I’ve taken both together for years and without any damage for the corals. Keeping them well feeded is very helpful.

Centropyge Show al PetsFestival 2019
Centropyge Show at the PetsFestival 2019

In Italy there was a show of Centroypge organized during the PetsFestival 2019, here there’s the article with pictures and comments of the day.

The needed spaces

Considering the habits of these beautiful fish, we can say that: the Centropyge bicolor, that’s one of the biggest, would be better an aquarium of 200 liters; the Centropyge loriculus only needs 120 liters; and the Acanthops 100 liters. The flavissimus and the heraldi need 120 liters; the ferrugata and the bispinosus need 100 liters, and the eibli needs 150 liters.

Old articles

We already wrote some useful article that you can consult for the needs of these specific species (but they’re in italian):

From the same series:

We’re currently writing some articles on the various families of fish, and we we’re going to collect below each article the links of the same series. And is there a particular family that you’d like to learn more about?

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