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Pygoplites diacanthus
Regal/Royal Angelfish

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish > Regal/Royal Angelfish - Pygoplites diacanthus

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Pygoplites_diacanthus_1.jpg (53kb)
Photo Credit: Paul Cizek

Name: Pygoplites diacanthus
Size BehaviorReef
Origin: Indo-Pacific
25 cm Loner Caution


The Regal Angel has a few variations. The most common Regal Angels available come from the Red Sea, which is brighter in color and has a yellow belly. The other common Regal Angel comes from the Indo-Pacific, which has a blue/grey belly and is not as bright in coloration as the Red Sea variant.

Regal Angels are notoriously difficult to keep in captivity because most refuse to accept any aquarium fare. It has been reported that the Red Sea variant is slightly hardier than the Indo-Pacific, but it is still rare to keep this fish alive for a long amount of time. This angel often refuses to feed because of its bashfulness due to bullying from other tankmates. If another fish is harassing the Regal Angel, whether it's a bigger fish or a smaller fish, it will often stay in the rockwork for security and will thus not eat. The Regal Angel should be left in the ocean or in the hands of expert aquarists.

If you are very determined to keep this fish, you must inspect it before taking it home. It should be particularly thick around the head. It should obviously be eating some form of food being offered to it. It should not be missing any scales or fins. Lastly, it should show awareness of your presence. This means that it should come to the front of the tank to check you out for a few seconds at a time. If the angel passes these four tests, there's a chance that it will survive in captivity. I bought my angel because it passed these tests. It was very thick around the head, liked chasing my finger around the tank, had all body parts intact, and was eating frozen mysis and brine shrimp.

When you add this fish to your tank, the tank should be full of live rock so that it can feel secure. If your tank does not have any live rock, it will die. Even if it has other forms of decoration, it needs to be able to feed on copepods while it adjusts. It should also lack aggressive fish because these will make this angel more timid. Even though mine was eating well at the store, it took two weeks for me to get it eating again. In those two weeks, it enjoyed picking at the live rock and caulerpa in the tank. After the first two weeks, I had it eating formula one, formula two, spirulina, color bits, and nori. It never readjusted to eating frozen brine or mysis. One thing that I noticed was that it will only eat chunks of food. When I throw in a chunk of formula one, it will go after it and pick at it for a few minutes until the entire piece of formula one is gone. If I mush up the food in my hand so that there are smaller pieces, it will not chase the food. The only small food that it eats are the color bits, which float for a short amount of time.

The Regal Angel was originally very timid and used to hide in the live rock. As each day went on, it became more active. Now, mine can be seen whenever someone approaches the tank and it likes to interact with the Sailfin Tang, even though I believe Regal Angels are generally known to be loners, like other angels. This, however (in my opinion), cannot be said because most Regal Angels die before a person can really learn anything about them.

This fish is reef safe with caution. I have not had any problems with it picking at any of my coral yet; however, they are known to pick at xenia, clam mantles, and less noxious LPS coral. It has never been known to cause serious damage to a reef.

Contributed by Mike

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