Life of Sea | French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) | French angelfish is commonly known as French angel in everyday speech. It is a popular among aquarist and is also sold fresh as food fish, particularly in Singapore and Thailand. French angelfish are common in shallow reefs and are usually found in pairs, often near sea fans and sponges. Juveniles are jet black with circular bright yellow bands and they tend cleaning stations where they service a broad range of clients, including jacks, snappers, morays, grunts, surgeonfishes, and wrasses. At the station the cleaner displays a fluttering swimming and when cleaning it touches the clients with its pelvic fins. French angelfish are found in the Western and Eastern Atlantic. In the Western Atlantic, you can encounter it from Florida, USA, to Bahamas, and all the way down to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. In the Eastern Atlantic, it is found in West Africa and the Cape Verde Island.
Like other angelfishesand butterflyfishes external link, French angelfish have tall, narrow bodies. Because they are so thin, they can turn quickly and maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt their prey and avoid predators. They swim by rowing with their pectoral fins. Their long dorsal, anal, and caudal (tail) fins allow them to turn quickly. The largest scientifically measured French angelfish was 41.1 cm.
Adult French angelfish's body are covered in black scales except those at front from nape to abdomen, which are rimmed with golden yellow. They have a broad orange-yellow bar at the base of their pectoral fins and have a dorsal filament that is yellow. Juveniles are dark brown to black and decorated with curved yellow bands across the head and body. As the fish becomes an adult, the yellow bands will fade except for the yellow bar located at the outer base of the pectoral fin. The scales will become black with yellow rims and most of the face will develop into a light blue shade, with the exception of the chin and mouth region which turn white.
In the wild, the French angelfish feeds on sponges, bryozoans, gorgonians, tunicates, zoantharians, corals and algae. Juveniles set up cleaning stations where they remove parasites from larger fish, but their staple food is usually algae and detritus. In aquarium, you an give French angelfish with an omnivorous diet similar to what it would eat in the wild. You can for instance use a high-quality angelfish preparation with added sponge matter combined with meaty foods (e.g. various shrimps), marine algae and spirulina. You may feed them several times throughout the day instead of giving it just one or two large meals. This species will usually accept live, fresh, frozen and formula food.
Another species that similar with French angelfish is Angel gray. They can be distinguished from the adults color pattern. Adults Angel gray becomes flat and French angelfish has metallic impression. However, these two species are very similar. Both juveniles have a major difference in sharpness and color of the tail fin. French angel fish has a rounded tail fin shape with white edges, while Angel gray has many facets on its tail fin. Another difference in the two juveniles can be seen in the habit of swimming styles. Juveniles French angelfish will swim like a wave, while the juveniles Angel gray does not.
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