Centropyge Species Raised at RCT

The Resplendent Cherubfish - C. resplendens x C. argi
Industry First
First raised at RCT in October 2011

Following the breeding success of the popular Hawaiian resplendent pygmy angel (C. resplendens x C. fisheri) our work on Centropyge hybridization continues with the captive-breeding of the Resplendent Cherubfish or Resplendent Cherub pygmy angel. The parents of this unique fish are arguable considered the two most attractive and distinctive pygmy angels species in the Xiphypops subgenus (also known as the "argi" or "fisheri" complex): the Resplendent Pygmy (C. resplendens) Angel from Ascension Island and the Cherubfish (C. argi) from the Caribbean.

Centropyge hybrids sometimes occur naturally between species that share the same geographic location. The natural distribution of the Resplendent angel and the Cherubfish is separated by over 3,000 miles, making the Resplendent Cherubfish truly unique and only available through captive-breeding efforts.

Left: Resplendent angel male and Cherubfish female (parents)
Right: Resplendent Cherubfish juvenile, 200 dph.

Our Resplendent Cherubfish juveniles are now between 185 and 215 days old and are 1"-2" in length. They have orange, yellow, purple and metallic blue; displaying a mix of the colors from their parents. They feed on spectrum 0.5-1.0 mm pellets (growth formula), a homemade frozen gelatin formula food and diatomacious algae growing on tank walls. So far we’ve observed only small color pattern differences and expect this fish to only become more attractive with age. The demeanor seems to be less aggressive than what is common for dwarf pygmy angelfish species (Xiphypops subgenus). The breeding of this hybrid was part of a research project.

The Resplendent Cherubfish will be available for a limited time from fine retailers that sell quality captive-bred fish. We will not be selling directly to hobbyists at this time. We have no plans to culture this fish again in the future.


African Pygmy Angel- Centropyge acanthops
Industry First
First raised at RCT in October 2011

The African Flameback Pygmy angel is another beautiful angelfish belonging to the Xiphypops subgenus (C. fisheri, C. acanthops, C. argi, C. resplendens, C. aurantonotus, C. flavicauda). It occurs in the western Indian Ocean along the east coast of Africa from Aliwal Shoal to the Gulf of Aden and east to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Maldives. This species can often be found in harems of up to 12 individuals in coral rubble bottom habitats (often covered with thick algae) at depths of 25 to 130 feet. Adult fish reach about 3 inches.

Much like C. argi, C. acanthops is hardy in captivity, though it has aggressive tendencies, especially in smaller aquariums (less than 40 gallons). It has no sexual dichromatisms. Males are longer and more slender than females. Like all Xiphypops members, C. acanthops is very suitable for reef aquariums. 

Left: African Pygmy Angel (parents)
Right: African Pygmy Angel juvenile, 190 dph.

The larvae have similar requirements to C. argi up to metamorphosis, but interestingly start to settle about a week later.

The African Pygmy Angel will be available for a limited time from fine retailers that sell quality captive-bred fish. We will not be selling directly to hobbyists at this time. We have no plans to culture this fish again in the future. 


Cherubfish or Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish- Centropyge argi
Industry First
First raised at RCT in September 2011)

The cherubfish is common in the aquarium trade. The species is found in Florida, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean on reefs, rubble zones and mud/sand bottoms from 15 to 200 feet. It is most abundant at depths below 90 feet and more commonly occurs in the southern part of its distribution. Adults grow to 3” in size.

The cherubfish is a popular aquarium fish due to its captive hardiness, small size, attractive deep blue metallic color and affordability. Collected individuals are suitable for reef aquariums but may become aggressive once established.

Left: A cherubfish pair (female below male).
Right: 90-day-old juvenile cherubfish

Cherubfish larvae are strong and fast growing. They begin settlement near 40 days post-hatch (dph) and complete their transition to juveniles between 50 and 60 dph. We consider this one of the easier Centropyge species to culture; however, present economics (low price of collected individuals) makes production in the near future unlikely. The cherubfish was reared as a direct result of our live foods research.


Hawaiian Resplendent Angelfish - C. resplendens x C. fisheri
Industry First
First raised at RCT in September 2006)

We are really excited about this one. Centropyge hybrids sometimes occur naturally between certain species (Lemonpeel x Halfblack; Eibl's x Halfblack; Lemonpeel x Eibl's; Flame x Potter's; Flame x Sheppard's; Coral Beauty x Sheppard's; Herald's x Bicolor and Venusta x Multibarred) that share the same geographic location. However, crosses between species inhabiting different oceans do not exist.

Left: A male resplendens and female fisheri pair.
Right: 70-day-old juvenile Hawaiian Resplendent hybrid angels (just past metamorphosis)

We had success in pairing one of our Resplendent males, an Ascension island endemic, with a female Fisher's angel, a Hawaiian island endemic. The two began spawning regularly this summer, producing enough hybrid fertile eggs to work with for short time. Though the results of such a cross could not be predicted, we focused much of our efforts onto raising this unique angelfish. The time spent was not in vain. The juvenile prodigy developed well with a distinctively beautiful coloration found nowhere else.


Joculator Angelfish - Centropyge joculator
Industry First
First raised at RCT in April 2006)

The Cocos pygmy angelfish is only known from Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Island in the southeastern Indian Ocean. The species most frequently inhabits steep rubble slopes and reef drops between 50 and 230 feet, where it forms harems of up to six individuals. Though uncommon in the trade this subtly beautiful fish is considered a relatively hardy species. Adults reach to 4.5 inches. While there are no distinct color differences, dorsal and anal fins are more elongate in males than in females.

Left: A pair of joculator angels (male below female)
Right: A 125-day-old juvenile joculator angels (just past metamorphosis)

Our C. joculator pair was easily conditioned to produce large fertile spawns during our production periods. Unfortunately, the larvae proved exceptionally difficult to rear through the later post-larval stages. Good survival was obtained up to settlement, at which time the larvae went through an extended period of delayed metamorphosis that lasted over 50 days, similar to C. debelius. Settlement is a critical period for most marine fish species and mortality increases the longer this process is delayed. As a result we were only able to culture a few individuals through to the juvenile stage.     


Debelius Angelfish - Centropyge debelius
Industry First
First raised at RCT in March 2006

The debelius angel (also know an Blue Mauritius angel) is and an exceptionally rare and gorgeous fish known only from Mauritius, Aldabra, Reunion and the Seychelles Islands. Here it has been reported at depths between 50 and 100 meters, where it inhabits outer reef drops and vertical walls. Only single individuals have been observed to date, which may mean that that the principal breeding populations are located even deeper. The few individuals that have been kept in aquariums adapted well with or without live rock and thrived on conventional foods. The species grows to 4". It was first discovered by Helmut Debelius in 1988 and described a short time later by Richard Pyle in 1990.

Left: A pair of debelius angels (female below male)
Right: A 120-day-old juvenile debelius angels (just past metamorphosis)

Debelius larvae proved to be very difficult to raise compared to other Centropyge. We were only able to raise a few individuals in 2006 but hope to have more success with this species in the future. Like the adults the juveniles are very robust and require cooler water temperatures (less than 77 degrees Fahrenheit over long periods).

Interesting Fact
We found the larval period of this species to last a minimum of 110 days, making it the longest larval phase of all the angel species we have raised thus far.


Bandit Angelfish - Apolemichthys arcuatus
Industry First
First raised at RCT in December 2005

The bandit angel is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, Johnston and Midway Atoll. It can be found single or in pairs inhabiting rocky reef faces and slopes at depths between 60 and 400 feet. The diet of this species is almost exclusively made up of sponges, which maybe one reason why wild collected individuals do not do well in captivity. Decompression related maladies are another reason for its poor acclimation to aquarium conditions. Juvenile and sub adult bandits are known to adapt better to aquarium life but are secretive and not common above 140 feet and therefore rarely seen in the trade.

Left: A female bandit angel
Right: A 95-day-old juvenile bandit angel

We had the opportunity to study this species at our facility for a short time. A near full grown pair (8 inch male, 7 inch female) was collected at 100 feet in waters near Oahu and decompressed over six hours without pinning the air bladder. Despite its physical health, both fish converted slowly to aquarium foods, requiring feedings of fresh sponges for several months before properly accepting fresh shredded sea foods (white shrimp, clams and fish). After 4 months the two fish finally began feeding on our broodstock gel diet. Once conditioned, spawning was irregular but enough eggs were obtained to allow us to experiment with raising the larvae. We no longer work with this species at RCT due to its poor spawning attributes.

Interesting Fact
Similar to the colini and multibarred angel juveniles, our captive-bred bandit juveniles are hardy and eagerly accept common aquarium foods such as flakes, pellets and frozen foods. Unlike its wild caught counterpart, our feeling is that this species is well suited for captivity over the long term when captive -bred. Emphasis needs to be placed on broodstock conditioning.


Multibarred Angelfish - Paracentropyge multifasciatus
Industry First
First raised at RCT in September 2005

The multibarred angel is widespread in the western Pacific, north to the Ryukus, Japan, east to the Society Islands to south the Great Barrier Reef. It also occurs at Cocos-Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean. This species can be found at depths from 40 to 230 feet where it inhabits caves and reef crevices. It can often be found swimming upside down under large overhangs colonized by sponges at outer reefs.

Left: A pair of multibarred angels
Right: 45-day-old juvenile multibarred angels (just past metamorphosis)

In the aquarium this species has a reputation for being timid and difficult to acclimate. In fact, our broodstock animals could not be coaxed to properly accept aquarium foods for six weeks. Sadly, most collected multibarred angels survive only a few weeks in captivity. We were excited to find that our captive-bred multibarred juveniles eagerly accepted aquarium foods and that shy behavior often found in collected adults was absent.

Interesting Fact
Juvenile multibarred angels be distinguished from a adults by an attractive, reflective blue eyespot, edged with white anteriorly, at the back of the dorsal fin.

Interesting Fact
The growth and settlement time of the hybrid larvae is more similar to C. resplendens than C. fisheri.


Colins Angelfish - Centropyge colini
Industry First
First raised at RCT in September 2005

Colin's angelfish is known from Cocos-Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Guam and Fiji in the Western Pacific. It is considered a deepwater angelfish species, occurring at depths between 120 and 250 feet. Here it usually inhabits caves and reef cracks where it grazes on macroalgae. C. colini may also feed on sponges.

Collected colini are delicate, secretive fish that often suffer from decompression related problems. As a resulted most specimens entering the trade perish in captivity.

Left: A pair of colini angels
Right: 52-day-old juvenile colini

We have observed our captive-bred C. colini juveniles to be far less secretive and timid than their wild-caught parent broodstock. They are curious, feed eagerly and coincide well with each other as well as interruptus and multi-barred juveniles. Aquarium foods consist of high quality micropellets, artemia nauplii, grated gel diets, crushed flaked foods high in marine algae and occasional feedings of frozen cyclopeeze. This is a tropical species that should be kept between 76 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Interesting Fact
Centropyge larval species are usually quite difficult to distinguish prior to becoming post-larvae. C. colini is the only species we have worked on that develops long ray extensions on each pelvic fin early in the larval stage.

Left: A 25 day old colini larva (note the pelvic fin extensions)
Right: A 24 day old interruptus larva


Resplendent Angelfish - Centropyge resplendens
Industry First
First raised at RCT in August 2004

The Resplendent angel is only known from Ascension Island, mid Atlantic Ocean. There it occurs on rocky sand beds at depths between 15 and 40 meters. Back in the 80’s and 90’s it was brought in to the US occasionally. Now the Ascension government has prohibited the collection and export of all reef life including this species. The fish grows to about 3 inches. It prefers water between 74 and 80º F. Our captive-bred specimens thrive on crushed flakes, small pellets (1 mm), grated gel diet, newly hatched baby brine shrimp and cyclo-peeze.

A pair of resplendent angels 70-day-old juvenile resplendens

Left: A pair of resplendent angels
Right: 70-day-old juvenile resplendens

Interesting Fact
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has placed the Resplendent Angel on its Red List of Threatened Animals (1996). It is the only marine angelfish species on this list. While this species is common in Ascension’s coastal waters its population size is considered vulnerable because it is restricted to a tiny island locality.


Japanese Pygmy Angelfish - Centropyge interruptus
Industry First
First raised at RCT in November 2002

The Japanese Pygmy angel is a stunning fish and quite rare in the trade. It commonly occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean along Japan’s southern coast, particularly at the Izu Peninsula, but it can be found as far south as the northern most Hawaiian Islands. We found it thrives on a quality gel diet, small pellets, high-grade flakes and frozen adult brine shrimp.

A pair of Japanese pygmy angels (male on right) 65-day-old Japanese pygmy juveniles

Left: A pair of Japanese pygmy angels (male on right)
Right: 65-day-old Japanese pygmy juveniles

Adults can reach up to 6 inches in length.

Interesting Fact
Our wild adults require cooler water temperatures between 74 to 80º F but our first generation juveniles are now adapted and do well in water temperatures up to 82 degrees.


Multicolor Angelfish - Centropyge multicolor
Industry First
First raised at RCT in May 2002

The multicolor angel used to be quite rare in the trade but now is more and more commonly seen. It has a relatively wide distribution, occurring from Palau to Tahiti and the Marshall Islands, but lives secretively in the deeper, 20 to 60 meter reef habitats.

A pair of multicolor angels (male on right) A 105-day-old multicolor juvenile

Left: A pair of multicolor angels (male on right)
Right: A 105-day-old multicolor juvenile

We found this species to be exceptionally hardy and well suited for captivity. It thrives our gel diet, flakes and adult brine shrimp and prefers water temperatures from
76 to 81º F

Interesting Fact
Multicolor larvae can take up to 55 days to complete metamorphosis when the right conditions are not provided.


Flame Angelfish - Centropyge loriculus
First raised at RCT in March 2002

The flame angel is arguable the most common and well know pygmy species in the trade. It is more omnivorous than most other pygmies (which are primarily herbivorous) and considered very hardy. They can, however, also be quite aggressive.

A pair of flame angels (male on right) A 90-day-old flame juvenile

Left: A pair of flame angels (male on right)
Right: A 90-day-old flame juvenile

This species prefers water temperatures between 77 and 82º F and can occur from Palau to the Hawaiian Islands. It is commonly collected from the Christmas and Marshall Islands. Adults reach a maximum size of 4.5 inches.

Interesting Fact
The Oceanic Institute first raised this species in January 2002


Lemonpeel Angelfish - Centropyge flavissimus
Industry First
First raised at RCT in March 2002

The lemonpeel angel is among the most heavily traded pygmies. It is less aggressive than many other pygmies, hardy and a beautiful fish. It thrives on a diet rich in algae and should be kept in at least a thirty-gallon tank. This species has wide distribution and commonly occurs throughout most of Melanasia and Micronesia. Water temperature preferences are between 77 and 82º F.

A pair of lemonpeel Angels (male on left) 80-day-old lemonpeel juveniles in hiding

Left: A pair of lemonpeel Angels (male on left)
Right: 80-day-old lemonpeel juveniles in hiding

Adults reach a maximum size of 5 inches. A harem of three lemonpeel pygmies has been spawning at our facility for over 5 years now.

Interesting Fact
Captive-bred juveniles loose their blue dot after just three weeks. Juveniles in the wild keep it much longer.


Fisher’s Angelfish - Centropyge fisheri
Industry First
First raised at RCT in November 2001

The Fisher’s angel is a Hawaiian endemic species that is rarely seen in the aquarium trade. One of the benefits of this species, aside from its hardiness, is its small size. It can be kept in tanks as small as 20 gallons.

A pair of Fisher’s Angels (male on bottom) 72-day-old Fisher’s juveniles

Left: A pair of Fisher’s Angels (male on bottom)
Right: 72-day-old Fisher’s juveniles

This species does well on all quality aquarium foods and, being sub-tropical, prefers a temperature from 74 to 80º F. Adults reach a maximum size of three inches.

Interesting Fact
The tank-raised juveniles spawned after just 230 days.