Source: flickr.com | Laszlo Ilyes
The French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru), like nearly all the species of saltwater angelfish, is a beautiful creature that exhibits vibrant colors and graceful movements. This saltwater angelfish is a bit more flat and oval shaped than some other types of angels, but it nonetheless striking in its coloring. It is generally dark black with the edges of the scales tinged with bright yellow, and yellow on their pectoral fins. As with many saltwater angelfish varieties, the young French Angelfish look nothing like they do as adults. As a juvenile they are darker with yellow stripes.
The French Angelfish is found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida all the way to south Brazil. It thrives around coral reefs where it takes shelter to avoid nighttime predators. Some divers and snorkelers have even reported these creatures ‘checking them out’ when they swim as they seem to be a very curious fish.
The French Angel is known to be a very hardy fish that gets along well in the home environment making it ideal for the beginner enthusiast.
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The French Angel can grow to be 15 inches in length, making it one of the larger species of saltwater angelfish. Because of this you’re going to need a tank that’s at least 180 gallons minimum although most experts agree that 250-300 is best. In the wild they like to swim from top to bottom so be sure to give them ample swimming space at home. They also like plenty of rock work both for hiding when they feel threatened or for grazing for algae. It’s best if you can work the rocks into a sort of cave for them, which will help reduce stress.
These fish don’t require special lighting, but you will want to have adequate light to encourage algae growth. The water quality they like is a temperature of 70˚ – 82˚ Fahrenheit with a pH range of 8.1-8.4, medium water hardness, and a specific gravity of 1.019 – 1.024.
Juvenile French Angelfish | Source: tusentakk2.com
As mentioned, these fish are of a more hardy variety than some other species of saltwater angelfish, however, that doesn’t mean you can be lazy with water changes or neglect your water quality. Because you’re going to have a large tank for keeping these fish, you won’t have to do as frequent of water changes as those with a smaller tank. It’s recommended that you perform a 15% change every other week or a 30% change once a month. If you do this and keep everything else stable, these fish should do quite well.
The French Angelfish is very peaceful and does very well in a community tank, however, it’s not wise to put these in with sedentary fish such as seahorses or frogfish because they’re likely to nip at them if thinking that they’re rocks. As with most saltwater angelfish, the French should be the last fish added to your tank.
It should also be noted that these fish aren’t entirely reef safe. They will eat polyps of both hard and soft corals, and while they might not completely destroy your reef, it’s something to consider.
Health and Care
Like other saltwater angelfish, the French Angel is prone to a number of diseases and parasites that can affect the saltwater home aquarium. The most common disease affecting this species is Saltwater Ich or White Spot Disease (Cryptocaryon irritans) or simply Crypt. This disease manifests itself in tiny white spots that appear all over the body and the tell-tale scratching against the rocks behavior. Another common disease is called Velvet, Velvet Disease (Oodinium ocellatum) which shows up as a yellow/brown velvet-like coating all over the skin — sometimes resembles dust.
These diseases are mainly brought on by stress, which thankfully, can be minimized by the thoughtful and attentive hobbyist. Stress can be caused by poor diet, inappropriate tank mates, poor water conditions or sudden changes in water quality. If you’re vigilant about maintaining your tank, there’s no reason these fish shouldn’t live for up to 16 years.
Source: flickr.com | Paul Asman
As with most other saltwater angelfish the French Angelfish is an omnivore, eating primarily sponges and algae in the wild, along with tunicates, zoanthids and gorgonians.
At home, you can give these fish practically any high quality food, but a varied diet is recommended for best results. Their diet should include vegetable foods and foods that contain sponge, which can come pre-made or you can give them live sponge if it’s available. They also enjoy meat treats every now and then such as mysis and brine shrimp. Experts caution not to give them too much meaty foods as it may result in vitamin deficiencies.
Because they like to graze on algae much of the day, it’s advised that you feed them no more than 3 times a day provided your tank has plenty of algae and sponge growing naturally to help sustain them.
Unlike a lot of saltwater angelfish that refuse to breed in captivity, the French Angelfish can be bred in the home aquarium, but it’s not easy.
In their native habitat the breeding habits in which these fish engage depends in large part on how dense is their population relative to a particular location. For example, in one area the male and female may form a permanent bond, while in other instances the male may have a harem.
At home, things can get tricky because there are very specific circumstanced in the wild under which these fish will breed and replicating those at home can be tough. Even if you manage it, they still may not go forward.
In the wild the French Angelfish does its spawning by congregating at the edge of the reef at sunset, at which time they engage in a mating ritual that involves the male and female swimming quickly in a head to tail circular motion.
Having the perfect conditions and being able to effectively mimic the sunsets and water temperatures that trigger the spawning nature of these fish is very tricky to do at home. If you’re interested, give it a shot, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
Source: commons.wikimedia.org | Albert Kok
- Fish size: Up to 16 inches
- Tank size: 180 gallon minimum 250 – 300 recommended.
- Diet: Omnivore
- Water temperature: 70˚- 82˚ Fahrenheit
- Water hardness: 8-12 dKH
- Specific gravity: 1.019 – 1.024
- Water pH: 8.1 – 8.4
- Breeding: Difficult
The French Angelfish is a beautiful specimen, which is very hardy and perfect for the beginning hobbyist. It’s easy to care for, will grow to recognize its owner and if given the proper care, can last up to 16 years.