Blueface Angelfish Care Guide

Scientific NameHolacanthus tricolor
Final Tank Size200+ Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
The Blueface Angelfish is a beautiful fish that should only be added to tanks that are created with them in mind. They do not do well as a side fish and cannot be added to tanks with large amounts of coral. While they start out small and passive they will quickly grow and increase their overall aggression towards other fish, They do not typically tolerate other angels in the tank and are a danger to slow moving fish like sharks.

They will spend a great deal of time looking at and between rocks for any sort of food they can find. Other than that they will swim from place to place, observing the tank from several different locations, almost like a hawkfish. They will generally stay below the middle of the tank and do not have as much difficulty turning in tight areas like other, taller angelfish do.

Is the Blueface Angelfish Reef Safe?

They are not reef safe and will eat most corals. Some soft corals or leather corals, such as finger corals and trees can sometimes be kept in the same tank but should be monitored heavily. Noxious or toxic corals are avoided by the angel and should be kept without issue. Large polyp stony corals, known as LPS, and zoanthids will quickly be eaten by even well fed Blueface Angelfish. Tanks with a large variety of corals should not consider adding this angelfish unless they are certain to not target a single type of coral present in the tank. Even then I would not suggest adding an angelfish to the tank.

Shrimp over an inch and a half in length should be fine as should shelled inverts. Clams, scallops, sponges and starfish all should not be kept with the Blueface Angelfish as they are sure to harass them to death if not outright eat them. Worms can be kept with caution but will be targeted if they angelfish becomes hungry. As they often demand three or four meals a day this can be difficult to avoid.

In short they should only be added to specifically set up tanks if you wish to keep them with any sort of coral.

Blueface Angelfish Diet

As with other angelfish the Blueface Angelfish should be fed a diet with sponge based foods added in frequently. They are omnivores but should be fed more herbivore food than meaty food.

A good diet for the Blueface Angelfish should contain:

  • Seaweed | Nori
  • Pro-V Gelatin food
  • High quality plant based flakes and pellets
  • Foods made with sponge
  • Algae flakes, pellets and wafers
  • Occasional meaty foods, such as gut loaded live shrimp
  • Scallops
  • Chopped Squid

As they are roaming grazers the Blueface Angelfish should be fed three or more times a day. Again a large portion of this food should contain sponge and not be too meaty of a diet. Like spoiled children the Blueface Angelfish will seek out the tastier meaty foods and deprive itself of important nutrition their body needs. A diet with too much meet will give them health issues and shorten their lifespan.

High quality blend of food such as new life spectrum, NLS, marine fish formula are essential when keeping the Blueface Angelfish. Other methods, such as gut loading feeder shrimp are also good ways to help round out their diet but requires a lot more effort than using a high quality food. Combined with flake and pellet foods and their diet becomes a lot easier to manage.

Seaweed is easy to feed and can be either tied to rocks or clipped to the glass. If torn and fed like normal flake foods other fish will bite and spit out the flakes, leaving the seaweed to fall to the bottom of the tank and pollute the tank. Remember to store seaweed away from the tank in a dry area. When kept near an aquarium the dried seaweed will absorb moisture from the humid air the tank creates. This leads to faster degradation of the seaweed and makes it quicker to dissolve in the tank. All uneaten seaweed should be removed one hour after it has been added to the tank.

While young they are not too competitive when eating. Around aggressive fish they may find it difficult to eat enough food. Once they reach maturity they will easily eat as much as they like and may keep other fish from eating. For this reason it is important to feed in different areas of the tank.

Blueface Angelfish Tank Requirements

While the Blueface Angelfish is quite large they will often act as a smaller angel. This means they spend a great deal of time swimming between rocks and hiding in caverns. As they age these behaviors will be less common but should still occur. The larger the gaps between the rocks the more likely an adult angel will spend their time hiding between them. By making most of the cracks and corridors in view from the front of the tank we can maximize how much we can see the angel. Likewise leaving large expanses behind rock structures can lure the angel out of sight. Keep this in mind when arranging your tank.

For juveniles a decent amount of rockwork is recommended to help keep them safe and stress free. Once they have fully matured you can expect them to stay out of the rocks for the majority of their time, but this will not be for the first few years of ownership.

It is recommended to purchase the Blueface Angelfish as young as possible. The smaller they are the easier it will be to bring them into your tank. Smaller angels can easily be kept in mid sized quarantine tanks. This keeps illness from the main display tank and also reduces the amount of medicine you will need to treat any sickness they may have. Additionally when adding medicines to the display tank you run a large risk of killing off the built up beneficial bacteria as well as inverts in the tank. This is especially true with copper based medicines.

Due to their hardy nature the Blueface Angelfish can frequently be transferred between tanks, making them easier to keep healthy. This will also allow you to keep them in a smaller tank while new additions establish themselves in the main display tank. This is important as the angel should be the last addition to any tank. Otherwise they can show an extreme amount of aggression towards new fish. This can easily be seen at feeding times.
Even a large puffer fish avoids an agitated Blueface Angelfish. Note the grunting noise just after 20 seconds, which the angelfish uses to warn other fish.

Box shaped tanks are usually the best bet for these angels, as they prefer to have a large amount of turning space and open areas. In the wild they will spend a lot of their time hovering over large reefs with nothing directly to their sides. They will only seek cover in the rocks when looking for safety. Otherwise large, well established adult will usually be free swimming in the tank on full display.

Blueface Angelfish Tankmates

The Blueface Angelfish has a mixed amount of aggression in them. When they are the biggest fish in the tank you can expect them to be aggressive and territorial, making life difficult for any smaller fish or angel in the tank. If something larger than the Blueface Angelfish is present the angel will be much more docile and act as a community fish.

On the other hand these larger, more aggressive fish should not be anything predatory or a fish that commonly hurts angels. This includes other large angels like fully established French Angelfish. Even in larger tanks it is common for extreme aggression to come out between multiple large angels. Those above 250 gallons are sometimes able to keep two angels but they should always be monitored closesly. Lionfish and groupers should not be kept with the blue angel.

Good tankmates are:

  • Clownfish
  • Tangs
  • Basslets
  • Butterfly Fish
  • Surgeon Fish
  • Eels
  • Wrasse

Clownfish that are hosting any anemone should be larger breeds of clownfish. Anemones are generally not safe with the angel but can be kept in the same tank when a strong enough clownfish is hosting them. If you have both a clown and anemone and the clown does not spend a significant amount of time around the anemone you should not expect the clownfish to protect it from the angel.

The Blueface Angelfish can be a threat to other tank mates. Small and mid sized shrimp are usually safe as long as they are larger than the sexy shrimp. Generally any invert over an inch and a half should be safe if they are already established in the tank. Newly added shrimp may be harassed or out right attacked when they are first added to the tank.

Scallops, clams and starfish are all at risk when kept with the Blueface Angelfish. They will frequently nip at long appendeges, fleshy mantels and any soft, exposed areas that are similar to corals. Sponges are food for the angel and will always be eaten, even when well fed.

Worms like flat worms and feather dusters are frequently under threat but may survive in the same tank. Caution should be used when keeping these together, as the angel can strike them quickly and may change its attitude towards these existing inverts as they age. As worms, other than the feather dusters, are exceedingly hard to remove from a tank you should be prepared with traps to remove the worms or have a tank ready to accept the Blueface Angelfish if they begin hunting worms.

Blueface Angelfish Coloration & Breeding

The Blueface Angelfish shows no differences between gender. Both their colors and size remain identical as they age and can only be paired by randomly putting two together and hoping for the best. This should only be done by extremely experienced aquarists with large tanks that can support two of these large fish as well as a second tank to accept a rejected pairing.

One of the big draws of these angels is their beautiful coloration. Juveniles will have a distinct black body with both blue and white stripes running vertically across their entire body. All of their fins will exhibit a strong blue flair along the edges. Their eyes will be completely black. They will strongly resemble a young blue girdled angelfish but can be differentiated using their white stripes and blue and black dorsal fin.

This video shows a juvenile 45 seconds in, which looks nothing like their matured coloration.

As they age their body will start to change colors as small as four inches but can take longer to do so. The change will be gradual as their body goes from a black to dusty grey with yellow accents becoming apparent. A large black spot will remain on the end of their dorsal fin. Their body will become more yellow over time, with some scales remaining black. This gives them the speckled look we see in adults. Their face will remain the dusty grey color and their eye should develop a yellow outline near the end of their color shift.

Unfortunately the Blueface Angelfish is not bred in the home aquarium. This contributes to their higher price. Thankfully wild caught angels are quite hardy and will live very long lives when properly cared for.

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