Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life of Queen Angelfish

Life of Sea | Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) | Queen Angelfish is one of the most striking or colorful of all angelfish.  It has bright color and one of the most beautiful coral fish in the sea. It is also known as Queen angelfish, Queen angel, Blue angelfish, Golden angelfish, and Yellow angelfish. In wild, Queen angelfish lives in coral reefs , alone or pairs. It is found in stony reef building corals like Acopora and is particularly common on reefs with prolific populations of Porifera sponges. Queen angelfish lives in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Central Atlantic. In the Western Atlantic, it can be found from Florida, USA down to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. In the Eastern Central Atlantic, it is found around Saint Peter and Saint Paul Islets, an archipelago located roughly 1,000 km from the city of Natal on Brazil's north-eastern coast.

Queen angelfish has highly compressed body with a blunt, rounded head. The body is shimmering blue and yellow and there is a large blue spot at the pectoral fin base. Large adults develop a purplish shade of blue and yellow-orange scale rims. The head is greenish yellow below the eyes and dark blue above. The juvenile angelfish is quite different from the adult. They are dark blue with a yellow tail, a yellow area around the pectoral fin, and brilliant blue vertical bars on the body. 

Queen angelfish looks very similar to Blue angelfish Holacanthus bermudensis. The main difference is on the forehead. Queen angelfish  a dark ringed spot on its forehead that looks almost like a crown. The ring that surrounds the spot is electric blue. The tail also has completely yellow tail.  As juveniles, the two species are very difficult to distinguish form each other.But, you can see the difference from the curvature of the bars on the body. The queen juvenile has curved bars while the blue juvenile has straighter bars. As the queen juvenile grows larger, the color gradually changes from the dark blue of youth to the iridescent blues and yellows of adults.

Queen angelfish is very shy. It s sometimes curious, and is usually found in pairs. Males are very territorial. Queen angelfish is very thin. It can turn quickly. Therefore, it can maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt their prey. They swim by rowing with their pectoral fins. The juveniles are solitary and vigorously territorial. They set up cleaning stations along the reef within their territory. These are areas where larger fishes allow a smaller creature to remove any parasites from its body. A sort of truce among predators and prey prevails at the stations. The large fish remains motionless and allows the smaller angelfish access to sensitive areas such as the gills. The juvenile angelfish, in turn, trusts the larger fish not to eat it.

In the wild, Queen angelfish feeds on sponges. It will also eat algae, plankton, jellyfish, hydroids, tunicates and bryozoans. In aquarium, you can give Queen angelfish fresh and frozen meaty foods, e.g. squid, shrimp, and opened shellfish. Additionally,  you can give it  angelfish formula with sponge material. This fish also needs to be served algae on a daily basis, e.g. nori, spirulina, and fresh marine algae. In keeping Queen angelfish, you can feed it many small portions throughout the day instead of just one or two big meals.

Keep in you mind that, Queen angelfish is not suggested for beginner marine aquarists. It is very sensitive to organic waste and it can be hard to get it to eat in the aquarium. Queen angelfish will spend most of its time out in the open. It is active during the day and rests during the night. A Queen angelfish will need an aquarium of at least 150 gallons / 575 litres. For a specimen that begins to approach the maximal length for this species, a 200 gallon / 750 litre aquarium is considered a minimum.  The aquarium should contain large enough hiding spots as well as ample swimming room. Coral skeletons are known to be appreciated. Include a lot of live rock and encourage natural algae growth.  

Queen angelfish can be semi-aggressive and it is therefore best to add it as the last fish to the aquarium. It is also important to provide the other fishes with suitable hiding spots to relieve stress. Keeping more than one fish from the genus Holacanthus can lead to a lot of violence, especially if you try to keep more than one male. Queen angelfish will love a prolific reef aquarium, but you should keep in mind that it can nip at soft corals, stony corals and clam mantles. It is actually fond of eating a long row of reef creatures (sponges, feather dusters, hydroids, tunicates, bryozoans etc) and keeping it in a reef environment will make anorexia and malnutrition much less likely. To save the aquarium from being seriously depleted by the angel it is however best to gradually train it to accept other types of food. You can read more about feeding in the feeding section of this article.  

Interesting facts about Queen angelfish has never been bred in captivity.  Cases of toxic poisoning have been reported from people eating this fish. The illness is serious and symptoms (gastrointestinal discomfort, general arm and leg weakness, and a reversal in being able to determine the difference between hot and cold) may last for several weeks. 

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