French Angelfish Care Guide

Scientific NamePomacanthus paru
Minimum Tank Size200 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
The French AngelFish makes for a lovely addition to large aquariums. Their tall, eccentric fins give them a fancy appearance that is only heightened as they swim around the aquarium. They are quite large however, shaped like a large dinner plate and will not fit in most aquariums. You should only consider the French AngelFish if you have a tank 200 gallons or more. Additionally the tank must have a lot of open space, both wide and tall. This means tanks around 250 or 300 gallons are often more suitable to this angelfish.

The main reason a French AngelFish is kept is to be a stunning display fish. They are typically quite hardy and not hard to keep alive in an appropriate aquarium. They swim in short bursts without much body movement. This gives viewers ample time to admire their amazing coloration and patterns. As they age these patterns will shift throughout three different stages. More on this at the bottom of the page.

It is essential to remember how large this fish gets. Many French AngelFish are sold under two inches in length. As juveniles they are still stunning and hard to resist for many aquarists. This leads to them being kept in an aquarium that is far too small for them. For reference a standard 10 gallon aquarium is 20″ by 10″. This angelfish would have difficulty turning around in a tank of that size once it has fully grown and may even have their dorsal fin sticking out of the top. However at 2″ when purchased it would not be surprising to find them in a tank around that size. While it will take them several years to get to that size you should still be planning ahead before buying one. A large marine aquarium is significantly more expensive than a small one.

Is the French AngelFish Reef Safe?

These are almost as non reef safe a fish as you can get. They will eat most inverts, including decently sized shrimp and snails. Just about any coral, even some noxious corals will still be harassed and eaten. Corals without any toxins will be eaten almost undoubtedly. If you plan to keep any form of corals then the French AngelFish should be avoided. They are relentless and will continue to pick until nothing remains.

Their dangers extend to clams, oysters and scallops. The French AngelFish will pick at them multiple times throughout the day, either eating them or causing them to close up until they starve to death. Even when fed five times a day the angelfish will still harass corals or inverts non stop. The only things that may be safe are hosted corals protected by well established fish.

In case anyone missed out: The French Angelfish is 100% not reef safe. Do not even try to add any corals to established well fed french’s. They will just see the addition the same as a clipped bit of seaweed. Corals are far too expensive to be used as food.

French AngelFish Diet

While many angels will eat whatever the tank is fed, the French AngelFish is far more used to eating almost entirely plant life. In the wild they can be seen grazing almost the entire day, swimming from rock to rock picking at corals, sponges and rocks. They do best when fed a lot of algae, seaweeds and various plant based foods.

A good diet for the French 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

Their feeding is one of the main difficulties of keeping the French AngelFish. They should be fed four times a day. This can be reduced to two or three when kept in a massive aquarium with plenty of rocks, algae and several seaweed clips to help recreate the grazing lifestyle they have in the wild. When kept with multiple fish who will eat seaweed and algae they are unlikely to get enough food around the tank and should be fed at least four times a day.

Feeding only one or two types of food is not ideal for the French AngelFish unless they are a high quality blend of food such as new life spectrum, NLS, marine fish formula. Even then other foods should be offered to the angelfish on a regular basis. A good way to do this is to buy multiple colors of seaweed from the grocery store. They are found in the Asian food section as nori in green, red and sometimes brown coloration. Green is the most common but you should alternate between green and red. These can be cut and clipped to the side of the aquarium or rocks.

Remove any uneaten seaweed after one hour of adding it to the tank. When left for too long it will dissolve and dirty the tanks water excessively. To add nutrients to your fishes diet you can add liquid vitamins to dried seaweed before placing it in the tank. If doing this give the vitamins awhile to soak into the seaweed before adding it into the tank. Do not store the seaweed near the aquarium. It will soak up moisture and can grow mold if it does. Keep it in a dry area or an air tight bag.

The French AngelFish loves meaty foods and will usually eat them quickly. This includes live feeder shrimp, frozen brine or mysis shrimp as well as carnivore prepared foods. These foods should only be fed sparingly or to entice the French AngelFish into eating. Too much meaty foods will create a lot of deficiencies in their diet and lead to poor health.

Overall they are not competitive eaters and feed best when foods stick to the rocks or sand bed. They will slowly hover around their foods, moving in to nip at it occasionally. When fed foods in the water column around competitive fish the French AngelFish can be expected to get little to no food.

French AngelFish Tank Requirements

The main point has already been made in the introduction but should be reiterated here. They need a large tank with open spaces for them to swim freely and be able to turn. Tight corridors will cause them stress and may have them tear their fins or scales by rubbing against rocks. Additionally breeder tanks are not usually suitable. Only those which are above twenty five inches in height should be considered for an adult. Younger French AngelFish can be kept in smaller tanks but should have a larger aquarium ready and waiting for them.

Quarantine tanks are often a great choice for this angelfish. As they are often moving into large aquariums and can be hard to catch it is important to treat any sickness before adding them to the main tank. They are not particularly sickly fish and should not bring in any more sickness than others. They will do fine grazing on any wall clipped foods and should pick at any algae offered to them in the quarantine tank. If they do refuse food while in quarantine, after a reasonable window of time, you should try feeding using live feeder shrimp that have been fed highly nutritious plant based foods. This should entice the angel into eating while also giving them the nutrients they need.

Thankfully they are not too affected by transferring tanks and should adjust to the display tank quickly. When newly added to the tank they will avoid most of their tank mates but should soon find their own territory. This will usually be a save or overhang created by large rocks. If there are no available spaces then they will simply swim above and around the rocks, looking for space they can claim as their own.
Large rocks should be placed around the tank with plenty of big flat rocks at the top of the other rocks. This will help create a system of caverns and caves for fish to swim through. For fully grown French AngelFish these will need to be quite tall caverns but not especially wide. You can also choose to have little to no live rocks, creating an open environment. This will give the tank much more water volume and sand space. As the angelfish is not usually hiding in its claimed territory this is often preferred as it makes housing their tall bodies much easier.

The French AngelFish is not prone to jumping and will only do so a few times in its life. A lid should be on the aquarium to keep them in the tank but they are unlikely to fit through any holes made in the tank by overflow boxes of various equipment. Many aquarists will choose to have entirely open top aquariums for their angle tanks, however I would advise against this as it rapidly increases heat transfer and evaporation.

French AngelFish Tankmates

The French AngelFish is a very tough fish that will not have issues defending itself from other semi aggressive fish. They can often become the dominant member of the tank, creating a hierarchy with them overlooking the rest of their tankmates. Other fish may chase them away from heavily defended areas, such as hosted corals or created dens.

They should not be kept with any inverts or corals as they will always eat them sooner or later. Hard shelled crabs and snails may be safe but it is still a gamble to keep them with the French AngelFish. Smaller ones may be eaten entirely while larger ones can be continually harassed

Good tankmates are:

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

Other angelfish will generally be fine with the French AngelFish when kept in a large enough aquarium. As long as the fish does not harass them directly you can expect to see very little aggression out of this angel. The aggression they do show is often seen by them swimming nearby and turning sideways near the other fish. This makes them look large and threatening, often making the other fish swimming away. This behavior is not too noticeable if you aren’t looking for it.

When picking out tank mates it is important to keep their size in mind. The large fish that generally accompany angelfish will quickly take up the aquariums fish capacity, making it easy to over crowd the tank. Generally you want the French AngelFish to be the largest fish in the tank unless you have an especially large aquarium. Eels are a great addition to their tanks as the angelfish does not need the rock space that an eel will be inhabiting and will not try to eat the same foods as the eel.

French AngelFish Gender & Breeding

There is no way to tell the gender of the French AngelFish. They will display the same coloration as each other throughout their life. Additionally they will not breed in the home aquarium unless you have a massive one. If you do wish to have a pair of these angelfish you will need to raise one angelfish and add another one several months down the line. This will allow the first angelfish to become dominant and transition into male while ensuring the other does not change from a female.

Any French AngelFish which is purchased to be female should be bought as young as possible. Once they are able to transition into males they can do so in under three weeks. Picking any non small French AngelFish will almost always result in a male, making pairing them with an existing angelfish impossible. They do not change genders from male to female.

To breed the French AngelFish will swim together near the edge of their home around sunset. They will then both swim upwards at least 7 feet before releasing their genetic materials. This has been seen in private aquariums, with some particularly determined people succeeding. This will often involve using hormones in the water to encourage a breeding reaction among the angelfish, making the process not something that can happen on its own. Additionally male angelfish will often interrupt other angelfish breeding.

The eggs will float to the top of the tank and should be scooped out immediately in a water holding container. The use of a net can damage the eggs. These eggs should then be placed in a separate tank with identical water parameters. The eggs should hatch within two days and should be fed planktonic foods until they can move over to rotifers and algae. The time they will remain on planktonic foods is unknown, so close monitoring of the fry’s feeding is necessary for successful rearing.

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