Queen Angelfish Care Guide

Scientific NameHolacanthus ciliaris
DifficultyMedium
Minimum Tank Size200 Gallons
DietOmnivore
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
AggressionSemi-aggressive
Size18"
Queen Angelfish are a staple in the aquatic world. Their large body, stunning colors, long flowing fins and lazy gaze are all easy to observe qualities aquarists have come to know and love. They will only bring difficult to the tank if brought in at the wrong time or when paired with other dominant fish. Otherwise they are easy to keep and hardy fish that do well in most large aquariums.

When looking at angelfish it is key to remember their maximum size. Like goldfish they will grow much larger than most people have ever seen them. Then queen itself will easily break a foot in size in just about any aquarium. When well cared for and after several years in the tank they can reach one foot and six inches, almost as big as a ten gallon tank. Know that setting up a tank to keep a fish this large will not be cheap.

Is the Queen Angelfish Reef Safe?

The Queen Angelfish is not reef safe. They will pick at both stony and soft corals, especially ones with large polyps. Some noxious corals might survive when kept with the queen but they are likely to be harassed a few times and suffer poor health. For most reef tanks with a plethora of corals the Queen angelfish is a hard pass. Even when well fed they will graze on corals throughout the day.

As for inverts the Queen Angelfish is quick to hunt any soft shelled inverts but is likely to leave hard shelled ones alone. Cleaner shrimp are sometimes at risk but usually get by due to their beneficial relationship with large fish. Crabs and snails will usually be fine, however small crabs that can be eaten whole are not safe.

This angelfish is not one to actively hunt worms, meaning bristle worms, tube worms and feather dusters should all be ok when kept with the queen angelfish. Feather dusters may have a pass or two taken at them but should ultimately settle in and be ignored by the angel. The reasoning for this is they will look similar to corals with their large filter feeding feather. Unlike corals they will be able to hide themselves if the angel comes for a bite. The longer the Queen Angelfish goes without eating the more likely they are to start hunting worms in the tank. They should not be expected to combat worm problems like wrasse will.

Scallops, oysters and clams are all unable to be kept with the angelfish. When angels find these mollusks they are quick to pick at their fleshy mantels, causing the mollusc to close itself until the angel leaves. While the molluscs do have plenty of eyes and other means of seeing the angelfish coming, they are not always quick enough to close in time and will likely have parts bitten off of them. If kept with an angelfish long enough they will be closed far too often and slowly starve to death.

Queen Angelfish Diet

Angelfish will always bring a certain difficulty when it comes to keeping them well fed and healthy. They are continual grazing fish who should be fed no less than three times a day. Even in larger aquariums with a healthy amount of algae they should be fed two or three times a day. Additionally they will need a different diet than the majority of other fish.

The Queen Angelfish is a omnivore that is able to eat both plant based foods as well as meaty foods. This means they will accept generally anything offered to the tank, even meat only diets that large carnivorous fish will be accustomed to. However they should not be fed a diet of primarily meaty foods and instead should be fed mostly plant based foods with only the occasional offering of meaty foods. This is difficult to do in a large tank with carnivorous tank mates.

A good diet for the Queen 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
  • Clams

When fed a primarily meat based diet you can expect a couple of health issues to arise in angelfish. For the Queen Angelfish these would be cloudy eyes, dusty or fading colors and an overall shorter lifespan. They are highly dependent on nutrients that are found in plant based foods and do not need a large amount of meaty foods. In this sense they are similar to children that would much rather get sick eating tasty food instead of eating a healthy, well rounded diet.

This does not mean we can feed the angelfish only one type of food. Even when something as specialized as new life spectrum, NLS, marine fish formula is used, the Queen Angelfish should still be fed a couple other food sources. The most important of these would be seaweed, which can be injected with more nutrients before being added to the tank. Seaweed is often found in the Asian foods sections in grocery stores, sometimes listed as nori. This will be a roasted or dried seaweed that can be kept for extended periods of time. It is a cheaper source of nutrition which is perfect for angelfish. Sea weed comes in three colors, with red and green being the more important of the three. Alternating between the two colors is recommended. When using the red sea weed you should be quick to remove it once the fish are done eating. It is much quicker to dissolve than green sea weed and can quickly add debris to the tank, lowering the quality of the water. Sea weed should always be removed one hour after it is added to the tank. It can then be dried and fed a second time.

When adding nutrients to any food it is important to let the food sit awhile before feeding it to the tank. Liquid nutrients will be quick to seep out of the food if it has not been soaking for awhile. Dried foods should not be stored near the aquarium, as they will soak up some of the humidity an aquarium inevitably makes.

If the Queen Angelfish is refusing to eat small amounts of meaty foods should be fed first. Clams and frozen or freshly cut shrimp are great for enticing them into eating. Once the angel starts striking at food you may add plant based foods to the tank. The will be much more likely to strike at these foods after they have begun feeding.

The Queen Angelfish is quite tough when it comes to territorial disputes and should not be bullied away from feeding time. They are still slow fish and may have some difficulty getting food if not enough is introduced to the tank at once. Keep an eye on how feeding goes and adjust where you feed the tank and how much is fed at once to ensure the angelfish gets a decent meal while not leaving too much food to rot inside the aquarium.

Queen Angelfish Tank Requirements

Queen angels are quite large and like to dart quickly and suddenly. They need a large tank with open space all over the aquarium. They do like to be around live rock with lots of algae growing on the rocks. A popular choice for live rock formations when keeping the queen is to have a large central mountain of rocks with small caverns created throughout the rocks. This allows the smaller fish plenty of space to swim around and in between the rocks while not impeding the Queen Angelfish. If multiple peaks are created by rocks adding a large, flat rock to the top can create an overhang that even a large fish like this angel can use for cover and create a comforting home.

Poor choices for rocks would be large walls that divide the tank without wide spaces to go around these walls. The Queen Angelfish will always like to swim around the tank and keep an eye on the other fish. No space, other than small caverns, should be off limits to the queen. This also means no path ways should be so small that the angelfish cannot turn around at certain points. Having small gaps that they frequently swim through will increase their risk of disease as they scrape their scales on rocks.

When purchased small, under three inches, a small quarantine tank is invaluable. The Queen Angelfish is typically a quite hardy fish that should not be sickly or dying when brought in healthy. This does mean that sicknesses are less noticeable on them. For this reason they should always be placed in a quarantine tank and monitored for at least a week before being added to the tank. Their large, flat bodies make parasites, flutes and ich very easy to spot. Additionally they will be going into a large tank which would take a tremendous amount of medicine to treat. By using a much smaller quarantine tank we can quickly and easily treat the Queen Angelfish before introducing them to their final display tank.

This angel needs to be added to the tank last. They will almost always be the most dominant fish in the tank and will not be accepting of any future addition. Even young Queen Angelfish can be bullies to newly added fish once they have become established in the aquarium. While the aggression may not be obvious to aquarists, the fish in the tank are very quick to react and swim away from an aggressive angel. The most common threat can be seen in this video below, where an angel gets close to a fish and turns sideways, flaring their fins. This makes the angel especially large and intimidating.
Do note how this tank has very little in the way of rocks. This is actually quite a bit closer to what the angelfish is used to, as they will commonly float above reefs and swim downwards only to pick at corals, inverts and sponges. They are not the most accustomed to larger rock work but will do well if rocks are used in a non restrictive formation. The benefit that will be lost when not keeping rocks is the loss of surface space that algae can grow on. Queen Angelfish are happy to be constantly grazing on this algae, but the lack of rocks can be supplemented in their daily feeding.

Queen Angelfish are not typically jumping hazards. Due to their large body and often complete domination of the tank very little will startle them. Additionally they are unable to fit through many of the holes left around equipment cut outs left in the top of the tank. Many aquarists will even keep angelfish in completely open top aquariums. Be aware if you choose to do this you will likely see an increase in water evaporation, which can lead to higher salinity levels and overall water degradation if the lost water is not managed properly.

Queen Angelfish Tankmates

When keeping the Queen Angelfish it is more important to set up the other tankmates before adding in the queen. Even juvenile queens can be quite aggressive ot newly added fish. This is why it is so heavily recommended to add them to the tank last.

When picking their tankmates a minimum size and aggression should be kept in mind. Anything that remains under 3 inches in size should not be kept with the queen unless it has at least a semi aggressive temperament. While they do not typically hunt small fish they will certainly make it difficult for something small and peaceful to coexist. Small, aggressive fish like damsels are perfect examples of a little fish that can force the queen away when they need to.

All slow moving inverts should be avoided. snails may be safe due to their shell, however this will vary on a fish by fish basis. If they are determined enough a Queen Angelfish can get at snails too. For clean up crew you will need wrasse and crabs. Cleaner shrimp may be ok with the angel if they are large and established in the tank first. Coral banded are able to be kept with mixed results. As they are quick to throw off their arms and escape aggressive fish coral banded shrimp may find themselves over stressed and without large arms to defend themselves.

Good tankmates are:

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

While you may house the Queen Angelfish with other angels you will need to ensure the tank is much larger than either of the two require. The other angelfish should be established a fair amount before adding the queen, but not so established that they bully the queen to death before it can become established itself. Remember the tankmates we pick for angelfish are quite large and will quickly take up a lot of the fish space our tanks offer. Only pick fish you want for the final tank and keep fish you only slightly want out of the tank. This will let you add other fish as desired without over crowding becoming an issue.

French AngelFish Gender & Breeding

There as not been any success in home breeding the Queen Angelfish. In the wild they are seen in pairs, mating only with their partner. They are thought to form a long lasting relationship that extends throughout their entire lifetime.

Forming these pairs is difficult, as their is no way to really know the difference between the two genders. While they will change coloration as they age the angelfish shows no difference in colors pattern or body shape. Male Queen Angelfish will only be slightly larger than females. Knowing which is larger is only possible if you also know exactly how old each angelfish you wish to pair is. The only sure way to get a pair of queens in your aquarium is to purchase two that have already been together and add them to the tank quickly. There is a chance that this transitional time may cause the two angel fish to unpair and fight once they start to establish themselves in their new tank.

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