Emperor Angel

Pomacanthus imperator
Also known as the Imperator Angel, Imperial Angel

The Emperor Angel fish is one of the most stunning fish in the ocean. Its color, graceful shape and presence causes people to stop what they are doing so that they can admire the fish as it swims in the aquarium.

Most of the Emperor Angel fish’s body is covered with horizontal yellow stripes on a bright blue background. The attention-getting facial features are arranged into a stunning blue-black eye mask with a white area surrounding the mouth. The back end of the dorsal fin and the caudal fin are generally yellow or orange. Large fish sometimes grow a trailing dorsal filament which trails and tapers to a point. An Emperor Angel fish’s bright adult coloring is especially vivid in fish collected from East Africa and the Red Sea.

Like many angels, the Juvenile Angel Fish has a completely different coloring and sets of markings. Juveniles’ appearance is made by a dark blue background with a set of thin blue and white stripes running vertically near the head and which begin to form concentric circles as the stripes approach the rear of the body. While other juvenile angel fish may have similar colors and markings, only the Emperor Angel fish has a pattern of concentric circles, helping divers and others to identify it correctly as a young Emperor Angel fish.

As an Emperor Angel fish begins to transition from juvenile to adult, the dorsal fin and upper body begin to lighten. The vertical and concentric stripes on the body break apart and then merge to create the horizontal striping. Sometimes the markings will become jumbled or disorganized, and the fish’s colors will change to yellow, orange and red.

This change happens often when they reach 4 inches in length, but sometimes they will wait longer, even up to 6 inches. The prevailing theory is that the transition may be a population control, depending on the existing angelfish population of the local reef where the fish lives.

Emperor Angel fish come from many different parts of the world with the most desirable being from the Red Sea.

Emperor Angel fish for sale usually measure from 1 1/2 inches to 4 inches. They can grow to 16 inches and have reported lifespans of 15 years or more.

Emperor Angel Fish are some of the more common of the rare fish. However, there is usually a split between people looking for adults and for juveniles.

One of the most recognized species, the Emperor Angel adapts to aquarium life very well. However, while the Emperor Angel fish can be a fantastic display fish, it can also create a world of frustration for the less experienced aquarist.

Adult Emperor Angel fish have a more difficult time acclimating than juvenile Emperor Angel fish. In many cases, the adult will resist eating prepared, or “captive” foods. However, after time and some patience, good water quality and not being bullied too much by its tank mates, it will normally start to eat foods like frozen mysis shrimp and finely chopped seafood (like shrimp or scallops).

Juvenile Emperor Angel fish tend to be less picky than adults, eating most available fish foods. Feed the Emperor Angel fish one to three times a day, depending on if there is natural food available like algae and sponges for it to eat and graze on.

As a general rule, Emperor Angel fish are less able to handle the less than correct conditions often found in beginners’ tanks. Poor water quality, traces of ammonia or nitrites, overcrowded spaces, high nitrates, dissolved organics, low quality food, lack of greens in their diet, etc. Emperor Angel fish do not tolerate any of these conditions very well and will start to show signs of trouble long before the other fish in the aquarium are affected. similar to “the canary in the coal mine.”

Emperor Angel fish, especially the larger ones, need more care and an experienced aquarist with a well established tank, having at least 6-12 months’ growth of algae, plenty of live rock to provide filtration and hiding spaces, and the experience that comes with maintaining a tank to this point of establishment. If you cannot provide these magnificent and relatively rare fish with anything less than proper space, perfect water conditions and the highest quality diet, please wait until you are better prepared. You and your fish will be much happier with the results.

Emperor Angel fish can be highly susceptible to head and lateral line erosion (HLLE) if they don’t have a proper diet and if toxins are not throughly and regularly removed from the tank. Adults can reach 16 inches in length in the wild, and need plenty of room to avoid any kind of confinement stress issues. Some recommend as large a tank as 220 gallons as a starting point for an adult Emperor Angel fish. The larger your aquarium, the better life will be for your fish.

When it comes to the adult emperor angelfish, the bigger the aquarium, the better. It is important to provide your fish with plenty of room to swim in, lots of live rock for grazing and good hiding places to dash into when it is frightened.

Minimum Tank Size: 220 Gallons
Temperature: 72 – 78┬░F
sg 1.020-1.025
pH 8.1-8.4
dKH 8-12

Emperor Angel fish are omnivores, and in a home aquarium, it should be fed a widely varied diet of Spirulina, marine algae, high-quality angelfish preparations, mysis or frozen shrimp, and other meaty items. There are also prepared products designed specifically for marine angel fish, such as frozen daphnia and brine shrimp, herbivore-specific foods, and food formulas with sponges and garlic. although flakes and pellets should be fed sparingly.
Make sure it has a lot of meaty foods to eat such as sponges, because it will lose color otherwise. Many frozen angel formulas and flakes may have extra sponge meal, and live sponges can be purchased to supplement their diet.

Emperor Angel fish are not reef tank safe. They are known to nip at large-polyped stony corals, soft corals, sponges, and clam mantles, or to eat them, altogether. They may be kept generally safely with small-polyped stony corals and somewhat noxious soft corals. It is often said that some of the leather corals and anemones are safe with larger angelfish, but not enough for us to recommend testing them to see what will happen.

Juvenile Emperor Angel fish rarely cause community problems in the home aquarium, unless there is another juvenile Emperor Angel fish or another young Angel fish with similar body markings (they think white stripes on blue background is a common coloring and marking for many juvenile angel fish). However, it may also be chased off by other territorial fish defending their turf, like dottybacks, hawkfish and damselfish.

Adult Emperor Angel fish are known more to be fighters and to try to be bossy toward other fish. They will often spar with other angel fish, tangs and trigger fish. Being pestered by bullies of the reef can decrease the likelihood of successful acclimation of a new Emperor Angel fish. However, once the Emperor does fully established itself in an aquarium, it can become a bit of a bully, itself, and will start chasing others, particularly butterflyfish and other angelfish.

The best choices for a large Angel fish’s tank mates are other large community fish, like tangs, triggers, groupers, butterflies and similar fish. There will be a power struggle once in a while, but after thing are established between the fish, there are usually few problems. Shy and passive angel fish can be housed with smaller, calmer tank mates.

This fish cannot be kept with other Angelfish. If you are planning to purchase two or more Angelfish for the same aquarium, they will fight and one of them will probably not survive. Adult Emperor Angel fish are jealously territorial towards their own species and toward other angel fish. Juveniles behave the same way toward other juveniles.

Ironically, adults are generally tolerant of the presence of juveniles, which could help explain the function of the different appearances between adults and young fish.

If an aquarium is large enough (e.g., 240 gallons or more), it is possible to keep a juvenile emperor angelfish with an adult emperor angelfish. However, as the young emperor angelfish begins transforming into the adult colors, the larger fish may begin to attack it.