Life of Sea | Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) | This exotic fish is also commonly known as Imperator Angelfish or Imperial Angelfish. Emperor angelfish lives near the reef. The juveniles like to stay hidden under ledges or inside holes of outer lagoon patch reefs or semi-protected areas of exposed channels and outer reef flats. As they grow older, they move to holes located at reef fronts and in surge cannels. Emperor angelfish inhabits in the Indo-Pacific. Its range stretches from East Africa and the Red Sea to Hawaii, the Equatorial Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia. Northwards, the range proceeds up to southern Japan and the Ogasawara Islands. Southwards, you can find this species down to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, New Caledonia and the Austral Islands of French Polynesia.
Emperor Angelfish are omnivores, in the wild they eat a wide variety of sponges and encrusting organisms along with small amounts of algae, tunicates, hydroids, and bryozoans. It is important that you feed angelfish all kinds of live, frozen, and prepared formula foods. Feed vegetable based foods as well as meaty foods like chopped squid, scallop, and shrimp. Prepared foods with marine sponge and tunicates are essential. Foods containing color enhancing qualities may be used as well. A good formula that can be made at home consists of mussels, shrimp, squid, and spinach. Feed 2 to 3 times a day in smaller amounts to keep water quality good.
Emperor angelfish are usually known for its beauty and long life. The adults have deep and slightly elongated body. They have yellow and blue horizontal lines throughout their body. The lines are from just behind the gills to the area just before the tail fin which is yellow. From the top of the dorsal fin to the anal fin, it is blue and can have some blue striping. The dorsal fin is trimmed in white. The mouth and snout area are white, which is sharply cut off by a black mask that covers the eyes. The mask is black, trimmed in blue. There is a yellow vertical bar that extends from the yellow in the head downward. It divides the black mask from a thicker vertical black band that starts about 1/4 of the way down the body and continues down into the pelvic fins. This black band is in the same area of vertical space as the pectoral fins and gills.
This angelfish is a fish where the juveniles look very different from the adults. Emperorjuvenile has a bluish black body adorned with concentric white circles. The dorsal fin margin is also white. he first is a curved band that starts from the dorsal fin to the anal fin, the second forms a "C" shape, and the third forms a white circle near the tail fin. In between these white bands are thinner light blue bands. The dorsal and anal fins have a honeycomb patterning that is black in the center and trimmed in light blue. The top dorsal fin has a white top edge.
Emperor Angelfish is very similar looking juvenile Koran angelfish, Pomacanthus semicirculatus. On a Koran juvenile, the very last white stripe makes a crude "C" shape that at times can form a circle. But the Imperator juvenile has a full circle within the "C" shape. Imperator juvenile also has irregular light blue lined circles in the dorsal and anal fin, where the Koran does not.
It is moderately hard to advanced in difficulty to keep Emperor angelfish. They need excellent water quality, along with a large tank to properly house this fish. If a tank of 225 gallons or more with numerous caves can be provided, this can lower stress levels. When obtaining your Emperor Angelfish, the best size for adjusting to life in a captive environment is 4" to 6" (10-14 cm) in length. Make sure they are very curious and active in their environment. Also, find out where the fish you are considering is from. Fish from the Indo-Pacific may not do well due to poor capturing practices from that area. Especially those from the Philippines and Indonesia.
If an Emperor Angelfish is disoriented and excessively bright, that can be a sign that they are victims of cyanide and will die. Also, a gill count of over 80 a minute as they calmly swim around is a red flag. It is very important to have the LFS direct the fish into a container or bag to capture it, since nets can get snagged on their gill cover spines, causing injury which can lead to possible infection and subsequent death.