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We are very sorry, aquarium collectors. This guide to the 5 saltwater angelfish species is for those who prefer to see them in their natural habitat.
So, forgive us, but we won’t talk about breeding angelfish; nor how to care for them. Our saltwater angelfish take care of themselves. Neither will you find information about tanks. Well, that’s right, about tanks, yes: the one’s we divers need to breathe underwater and see them face to face.
And divers who dive in the Caribbean have a unique privilege. Swimming surrounded by these tropical fish. We see them interacting, their incredible shades, and observe how they search for their food among multicolored corals.
It is not uncommon to find a “rock beauty” showing us its character and to see the transition between juvenile and adult angelfish on the same scuba dive or several species of angelfish swimming together. All without worrying about how many saltwater angelfish can be kept together – lucky us!
Hey, there’s still time to join us. Read the saltwater angelfish species guide and come to the Caribbean to see them.
Diver, if you’re wondering what we’re going to learn about the types of marine angelfish in this article, take a look at the table of contents.
1. How Many Types of Saltwater Angelfish Are There?
There are currently 86 known species of saltwater angelfish and 7 genera. They are all grouped in the family Pomacanthidae.
There are other freshwater angelfish, but they should not be confused.
Saltwater angelfish are one of the most conspicuous species on the reef. That is, they attract attention. It is because of their bright colors. Not to be outdone, the saltwater angelfish that inhabit the Caribbean share these characteristics with the rest of the marine angelfish. In addition, they are fearless because they do not hesitate to approach divers.
2. Why Are Angelfish Called Angelfish?
The angelfish name is about their body shape. The angelfish shape is short and laterally compressed.
If you pay attention, you will see that their dorsal and anal fins have colorful extensions. As these fish often eat in an upright position, these winged shapes, with the tail, evoke an angel with open wings. In addition, the scales are mottled and show iridescent colors.
Heavenly creatures at the bottom of the seas and you, scuba diver, as a witness.
3. Marine Angelfish Facts
The common features in saltwater angelfish species are:
These beautiful fish can reach up to 30 centimeters in length. What truly impresses when you see them while diving is their palette of colors and unique patterns. Each species of angelfish is like a living canvas, painted with brilliant colors and patterns that change as they age. It’s as if they carry an art gallery on their scales!
Some species are solitary, while others form groups and mating pairs. These groups are often composed of a male who is lucky enough to be the center of attention for several females. A true underwater heartthrob!
Unlike their freshwater cousins who deposit their eggs in a nest, saltwater angelfish species release them directly into the water. The tiny eggs float and mix with plankton. However, life in the ocean can be tough, and unfortunately, most of these eggs won’t grow into adult fish, as they become a snack for many other creatures that adore plankton.
These beautiful fish also have their own predators, from sharks to marine mammals, and yes, even us humans, who sometimes succumb to the temptation of enjoying their flavor or keeping them in aquariums. Young angelfish are also prey for hungry seabirds.
4. Tropical Types Of Saltwater Angelfish
4.1. Queen Angelfish
Queen angelfish species’ characteristics
It has a dark blue spot on the forehead with lighter blue speckles surrounded by a bright blue line. This is the crown of our colorful queen angelfish.
As juveniles, they have most of the body dark blue, except for its pectoral area, fin, tail, and mouth bright yellow. Small queen angelfish may have up to 5 fluorescent blue lines running vertically across their bodies.
As adults, they are blue to greenish-blue in color, with yellow edges on the scales. The ventral and pectoral fins remain yellow. However, the lips turn dark blue, while the face turns yellow. The dorsal and anal fins show a lot of shades in a wide range of blues, yellows, and even pinks.
This saltwater angelfish species reaches 8-14 in. (20-36 cm) long.
Queen angelfish habitat
They live on reefs at a 20-80 ft (6-24m) depth. Juveniles prefer offshore reefs and act as cleaners, deworming adults. They feed on sponges, although they also eat algae and little marine organisms.
This saltwater angelfish species, although they may initially be shy with divers and retreat a short distance, often return for a closer look. We make them curious!
4.2. Blue Angelfish
Blue angelfish species’ characteristics
The body color varies from purple to greenish-blue, often with a gray tinge.
Juvenile blue angelfish are very similar to queen angelfish. However, there are fewer vertical stripes. There are usually three very bright lines.
As adults, the entire body turns to bluish tones that give it its name, and the edges of the scales are yellowish. Also, the tail and fins have yellow rims. The dorsal fin has a very long protruding filament. In contrast, the filament of its anal fin is much smaller.
Blue angelfish size
This saltwater angelfish species reaches 8-14 in (20-36 cm) size.
Blue angelfish habitat
Although we at Dressel Divers have encountered some blue angelfish diving in the Riviera Maya, they are more common in Florida. This saltwater angelfish species feeds mainly on sponges and small invertebrates.
They like to swim on top of reefs, while juveniles prefer bays, channels, and inshore reefs.
There is a hybrid species between the queen angelfish and the blue angelfish. The Townsend. It has a similar body to the blue angelfish but has a crown.
4.3. French Angelfish
French angelfish species’ characteristics
It is a very elegant saltwater angelfish species. It has a black body with yellow tips on scales and a rounded tail, and when they are juveniles, it has a toothed shape.
French angelfish undergo an incredible metamorphosis from juvenile to adult appearance.
Juveniles have a black body with 3 striking yellow ribbons on the body and a band that crosses the face from the forehead. It stops above the mouth and forks around it. The tail, which is also black, is surrounded by yellow.
They lose the yellow lines that cross their body from side to side as they grow, and the yellow-edged scales appear. In addition, the bright yellow ring around the eye and the base of the pectoral fin, which is also yellow, stand out.
French angelfish size
It is slightly larger than the saltwater angelfish species we have seen before, reaching a maximum size of 18 in (45 cm).
French angelfish natural habitat
They usually swim in pairs near the Caribbean reefs themselves. The couple defends this patch from others aggressively if necessary because they are very territorial. In addition, every night, they take refuge among the same algae and hollows. They feed on sponges, gorgonians, and coral polyps, and they eat small marine organisms too.
Juveniles stay near crevices and act as cleaners for larger fish. It serves as food for them, in addition of other fish detritus.
4.4. Facts about gray angelfish
Gray angelfish species’ characteristics
They have gray bodies. The inner side of the pectoral fin is yellow and they have a square
Again, we are facing a spectacular metamorphosis between juveniles and adults.
Again, the youngest specimens have a black body with three yellow bands and one on the forehead, which crosses the mouth and at the same time borders the lips.
If you encounter a juvenile gray angelfish, you can distinguish it from another juvenile French angelfish by the tail. It ends in transparent filaments.
Again, as long as the juvenile grows, the yellow bands fade, and the skin lightens to gray, with an intermediate stage in which light bands are visible across the flattened body.
The adult is uniformly gray with light-edged scales.
Gray angelfish size
This saltwater angelfish species reaches up to 32 in (60 cm) in length, although adult male usual size is 18 in (45 cm) in length.
Natural habitat of the gray angelfish
Gray angelfish live among corals, may live single, in pairs or in small schools of gray angelfish, and never migrate to other areas. Their diet is identical to that of the French angelfish.
5. Rock beauty angelfish or coral beauty
Its color varies from yellow to orange-yellow on the head and tail, while the body is black. Occasionally the lips and parts of the face show traces of navy blue.
Juvenile rock beauties are almost entirely yellow with a small black spot surrounded by a blue circle. As long as they grow, the spot extends to occupy almost the entire body.
Rock beauty angelfish size
It is the smallest saltwater angelfish species we can see in the Caribbean. They reach a maximum of 12 in. (30 cm) of length, but its average size is 8 in. (20 cm) long.
Rock beauty angelfish natural habitat
As its name suggests, corals are its home. This species is remarkably territorial, patrolling its territory on the reef and defending it vigorously. Their diet consists of sponges, algae, gorgonians and small invertebrates.
After reading this guide with the 5 saltwater angelfish species found in the Caribbean, there is only one question: When are you coming to see them? Contact us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you book your dives!