Scribbled Angelfish Care Guide

Chaetodontoplus duboulayi

Minimum Tank Size180 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

The Scribbled Angelfish is one of my favorite fish to keep. They bring a lot of color to the tank and are fairly peaceful when given enough space. the Scribbled Angelfish will get more aggressive as it matures, however it shouldn’t harass anything close to its own size. They pay quite a bit of attention to the aquarist which is a trait I always look for in fish. They are relatively hardy, but offer other challenges when keeping them.

The Scribbled Angelfish should only be kept with caution in reef tanks. While it is dependent on the individual fish, many of these angelfish will nip at corals an clams. They can be a bit difficult to start feeding, so be sure you are willing to put in more effort than usual before getting this particular fish. If you do get a hold of one, please take care of it as best you can. Not everyone can get a hold of a Scribbled Angelfish. When well cared for they can live over twelve years!


These angelfish make their homes in the Indo-West Pacific ocean just north of Australia. They are typically alone, but sometimes will swim with a partner or in small groups. They typically enjoy more turbulent waters and feed on corals, sponges, tunicates and macro algae.

Scribbled Angelfish love to spend their time swimming around the tank, meaning large, long tanks are a must. They will take around a year to go from 4 to 6 inches, which is when they are considered to be mature. Assuming the Scribbled Angelfish is the only one of its kind in the tank, it will likely turn male at this point. This can be observed by the development of dark blue scribbles stripes on the sides of the fish. Additionally males will typically start to grow longer while females remain shorter. Some claim that only males will develop a white patch around its gills, however this method is not as consistent as the other two.

When first introduced to the tank, especially when at a young age, the Scribbled Angelfish will be very shy and requires plenty of hiding spots to combat stress. It is common for them to avoid feeding for the first week in a new tank. Eventually they will feed with the rest of the tank, even being bold enough to be fed by hand.

The Scribbled Angelfish can be very aggressive towards its own kind, even a female you are trying to pair with a male. Always keep an eye on any attempted pairs of Scribbled Angelfish and do your best to dissuade fighting. If you the fighting continues too long the second added fish should be removed from the tank before it is harassed to death.

Diet & Feeding

The Scribbled Angelfish can be a bit difficult to get started on feeding. They will typically eat prepared foods such as pellets or flakes, meaty foods, macro algae and nori/sea weed. When just starting out owners should try using more interesting foods such as live brine shrimp, squid and clams. Once they are comfortable enough eating these foods they should start feeding with the other fish in the tank. If they are your first fish in the tank the process may be a bit more difficult.

The Scribbled Angelfish should be fed multiple times throughout the day, with two feedings a day being adequate for their needs. Leaving a sheet of nori in the tank for them to feed on as they please can be a good way to feed them while you are away. Additionally you can feed them steamed spinach leaves, mussels or frozen mysis shrimp to help supplement their diet.


The Scribbled Angelfish should not be aggressive towards other fish in the tank, however they can show aggression towards other angelfish. This is especially true for any second Scribbled Angelfish. This is part of the reason they are so rare, as breeding them is nearly impossible in captivity. These fish do not do well with aggressive fish, so keep their tank mates to Semi-aggressive at most. Pairs should be introduced to the tank at the same time! While this is not typically true, the Scribbled Angelfish becomes more aggressive towards its own kind as it matures and establishes territory. Even a submissive female is likely to get bullied to death when introduced to an existing males tank. This also means you should not keep similar looking fish in the tank.

These Angelfish should not be considered reef safe. They will almost always pick at most corals, occasionally leaving polyps, zoanthis, leathers and mushrooms alone. Anemones are always at risk when kept with the Scribbled Angelfish, however this does set up a good combo when the anemone has a hosting clownfish.

Sexing & Breeding

As previously stated males will have dark blue scribbles down their sides, white patches around their side gills and will generally be longer/bigger than females. Some say the males have more color than females, but that is difficult to compare without having both fish in the same tank.

The mating dance of these fish involves the male swimming around the female, tilting his body around her and rubbing against her. The two fish will then swim upwards and swim off once they reach the surface, releasing their genetic materials. the male will continue to chase the female after this happens. The eggs will hatch in one day.

Despite their breeding method being know, the Scribbled angelfish has not been bred in the home aquarium in any case I know of. Some of the largest sellers, such as liveaquaria can breed them. While somewhat inconvenient to the home aquarist, this is great news for the fish, as it limits the harvesting of the fish in the wild. Maybe someday when large tanks are more common we will be able to breed the Scribbled Angelfish in our own homes.

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