Dwarf Angelfish: All The Facts About Their Characteristics, Diet, Tankmates, Care, And More

Dwarf angelfish are a diverse group of more than 30 different species. Nearly all species inhabit the Indo-coral Pacific’s reefs. The tropical western Atlantic is home to the pygmy angelfish Cherub and Flame.

Dwarf angelfish dwell in groups, such as a male and numerous females, concealed under coral reefs. Dwarf angelfish mostly consume algae, although they also eat tiny crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs.

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about keeping dwarf angelfish, from their nutrition to their tankmates and everything in between.


Dwarf angelfish overview
Dwarf angelfish overview

Dwarf angelfish, also known as Centropyge angelfish, are members of a wide family of marine ornamentals that live in reef environments. As a result, they are renowned for their distinct body form and eye-catching colors. The biggest of these species is just 7.4 inches long, making them a very tiny species. In the wild, they most often congregate in groups composed of one dominant male and some females. 

Even though they have the potential to be fairly aggressive, it is still feasible to stock them with some other species. Despite their hardiness, you should take into account the water quality and tank design before adding any of these species. 


The question now is, how can you tell a male from a female? Fortunately, sexual dimorphism, dichromatism, or both are present in the majority of Centropyge species. All you need is a keen eye and a working knowledge of the characteristics of the many species you’ll encounter. In terms of morphometric differences, males are typically bigger than their female counterparts. For the whole genus, this is true. Consider the fact that little guys occurred in circumstances when females had the opportunity to undergo sex-change early; therefore, sexing by size isn’t always correct.

There have been further reports of morphometric variations between the sexes. When it comes to angelfish, males have bigger but fewer dorsal spines than females. 

The genus has a wide range of sexual dichromatisms. During courting, several species demonstrate color changes, while others are permanently dichromatic or both. Temporary color differences between males and females during courting may occur in the form of a loss of color across a portion or the whole body. Blanching is another term for this process. In addition to being lighter, the male or female of certain species may have more vivid color markings. At least ten Centropyge species have shown evidence of ongoing, unalterable color variations between sexes (C. ferrugatus, C. heraldi, C. shepardi, C. potteri, C. tibicen C. loriculus , C. replendens, C. flavicauda, C. interruptus , and C. joculator). 


Dwarf angelfish characteristics
Dwarf angelfish characteristics

When being in the natural environment, dwarf angelfish are highly social species and like to move in groups. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means that when they reach adulthood, all of the fish are females; however, the dominant fish will change into males.

In an aquarium, these fish are unlikely to spawn. Generally, they are regarded to be somewhat aggressive, but this trait differs across the various species. When compared to the big marine angelfish, these fish are tiny, reaching adult sizes of about 2.4 to 7.4 inches. The females might be hard to tell apart, but their fins are usually rounder and shorter. Flame angels, which are brilliant red with black stripes along either side of their bodies, are the most well-known species in this genus.

2 Types Of Dwarf Angelfish

Dwarf angelfish saltwater

Centropyge is a highly valued species of dwarf angelfish. They are saltwater dwarf angelfish. In general, salt dwarf angelfish are more accessible to hobbyists because they have fewer care requirements than large ones.

Despite its little size, this species has a unique and eye-catching color pattern. Its basic coloration is orange, with blue-violet flanks and a tail fin between yellow and translucent. The vibrant colors of the saltwater aquarium will enhance the beautifulness of your aquarium.

Because of its blue tail fin, it may be distinguished from Brazilian dwarf angelfish. The juvenile and adult stages of this animal’s development don’t bring about a significant change in its coloring.

It is a hardy fish with minimal inter-species competition in aquariums big enough to avoid harming invertebrates. It is true that it is able to nibble on the coral reefs, but it does so without causing any significant harm. 

Dwarf angelfish freshwater

Dwarf angelfish freshwater
Dwarf angelfish freshwater

This freshwater dwarf angelfish, also known as the teardrop angelfish or the roman-nosed angelfish, may be found in the Amazon, the Essequibo River, and the Rupununi River.

The freshwater dwarf angelfish Pterophyllum leopoldi differs from other Pterophyllum species. Dwarf angelfish of the species P. leopoldi that live in freshwater lack a pre-dorsal notch and have a black splotch on their dorsal side.

Dwarf Angelfish Care

It’s best to keep them in a tank that’s regularly cleaned and well-maintained. You must feed and clean the tank on a regular basis, as stated above.

Dwarf angelfish need a level of care that is between basic and advanced. When caring for dwarf angelfish, make sure the following water parameters are kept at the specified levels.

  • pH level: 8.1-8.4
  • Temperature range: 72°F-82°F (22°C-28°C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.020-1.025
  • Carbonate hardness (dKH): 8-12°

The size of the tank and the quality of the water are two critical considerations while raising dwarf angelfish in the aquarium.

Their aggressiveness against other members of their species and the tiny size of the larvae make breeding them in captivity difficult.

In the event that a group is promoted simultaneously, a hierarchy may be established, with the biggest and most significant member becoming a male. If the two angelfish often fight with one another, it is possible that they are both males. And in this case, they need to be kept apart.

Feeding frequency

Dwarf angelfish feeding frequency
Dwarf angelfish feeding frequency

The size of the tank may affect how much food is fed. In general, they should be fed two to three times each day; however, the frequency of feedings may be reduced in a tank that has high natural algal sources. Alternatively, if you have a bigger tank with more algae to hunt, feed it one to two times daily.

It takes around 20 hours for eggs to hatch, and after that, the fry may live off of the yolk sac for about two to three days until they have to be fed microalgae again.

Dwarf Angelfish diet

Dwarf angelfish are omnivores; however, algae make up the bulk of their food. Therefore, in order for them to grow in the tank, they needed natural algae.

You need to add seaweed or spirulina to their diet in order to meet their protein needs. When living in its native environment, this species of fish obtains its protein by consuming worms, crabs, and sponges. 

Dwarf angelfish will, for the most part, avoid eating any of the tank’s invertebrates. However, it may be a good idea to add a few pieces of clam, shrimp, or mussels to their diet to ensure that they are getting enough protein. They will cheerfully consume any frozen food that is easily obtainable in the aquarium trade, particularly krill, Mysis, and shrimp.

Live worms should not be offered to them since they may bring dangerous germs to the aquarium.

Feeding the dwarf angelfish when they are asleep in the water center is advised. The bottom of the tank is inhabited by dwarfs, and when the angelfish is not actively feeding, the amount of food available to the dwarfs drops significantly.

Tank Size & Setup

Tank size and setup
Tank size and setup

It is advised to have a tank of an appropriate size, with a minimum of 55 to 65 gallons, complete with live rock and enough algae development. For more than one dwarf angelfish, you should have a tank that is at least 25 gallons.

In order to provide the dwarf angelfish a sense of security, the rear wall of the aquarium should be decorated with a vertical rock wall. Despite their resistance to the depletion of aquatic conditions, they are very vulnerable to illness. As a result, our fish are at risk of becoming unwell if the water parameters go outside of the recommended range.

If you want your fish to feel safe and secure, it’s a good idea to provide them with plenty of places to hide. Giving live pebbles is also beneficial since they provide a source of sustenance in between meals.

Temperature & tank condition

If you want to maintain these fish, you’ll need an aquarium with a heater to regulate the temperature by at least 25 degrees. Dwarf angelfish are the fish that swim the most often; thus, they should be kept in tanks of at least 25 gallons or more.

At the very least once every month, some of the water in the aquarium has to be changed, but careful attention must always be paid to the specific directions.

In order to prevent water flow, the filter should be of excellent quality, but the power should not be too great. Dwarf angelfish often do not exhibit hostile behavior. As a result, they may coexist with other fish, but only if the aquarium is properly maintained to prevent conflict or harm.

Dwarf angels like having aquarium plants. Changing 20% of the water per week is crucial. In order to thoroughly clean the aquarium, it is imperative that you adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Dwarf Angelfish tank mates

Dwarf Angelfish tank mates
Dwarf Angelfish tank mates

Dwarf angelfish tankmates are determined by the species. A few dwarf angelfishes may be quite aggressive, while others can be peaceful.

In small tanks, dwarf angelfish are known to be aggressive to the point of death. Two male dwarfs continue to battle until one of them is killed.

Dwarf angelfish cannot coexist with Centropyge angelfish unless the tank size is bigger than 75 liters and there are enough hiding spots.


Dwarf angelfish spawning isn’t difficult or time-consuming, but feeding the larvae enough food is a major undertaking.

Dwarf angelfish all look to be hermaphrodites. More clearly, they are protogynous hermaphrodites (female initially). They may begin life as a male but subsequently acquire female gonads and mature into full-fledged females as they approach sexual maturity.

The sexes of more dominant individuals will permanently shift, and breeding males will emerge.

Females in certain species gather in tiny groups called harems. In yet other cases, heterosexual couples are created.

A spawning couple or group may be obtained, but you must take caution to avoid unwelcome hostility. We recommend that you buy juveniles and let them form their own groups so that the most dominant individual will take on that role. Harems are possible to create, but they need a significant amount of space, and there is no assurance that they will be harmonious.

For many species, spawning takes place in a ‘simulated spring,’ which is generated by boosting temperatures to roughly 28°C/82°F and progressively extending ‘day duration,’ from about 10 hours to around 13 hours, using artificial illumination.

Spawning is most common at ‘sunset’, when the dwarf angels swim upward and release their gametes into the water column. As a result, a minimum tank depth of at least 60cm/2′ is recommended. But for an established pair, 200-300 l/44-66 gal is generally all that’s required in terms of total volume. In point of fact, standard plastic barrels have been used effectively as spawning containers with excellent results.

The eggs float to the top because of their oil droplet. Egg collection in a reef system is difficult; however, specialized setups utilize procedures that let the eggs flow into collection containers for larval growth.

Within twenty-four hours, the eggs will hatch, and the newly hatched larvae will need a diet consisting entirely of copepods. 

Video: Top 10 Dwarf Angelfish


Is it possible to keep dwarf angelfish together?

There are seldom issues with dwarf angelfish pairings since they are hermaphrodites. If you’re buying two fish, make sure to get one that’s bigger than the other. In this case, the smaller one is a female while the bigger one is a male.
The majority of dwarf emperors avoid corals. However, it’s impossible to be sure.
In general, dwarf angelfish are aquarium-friendly.
Their primary source of nutrition is reef structures comprised

What is the size of dwarf angelfish?

They may range in length anywhere from six to nineteen centimeters, depending on the species. They, like other angelfish, have the characteristic thorn at the bottom of the gill cover, and their backs are arched while their sides are flattened.

What is the diet of dwarf angelfish?

The dwarf angelfish’s diet consists mostly of algae, insects, water worms, mealworms, mealworm pellet food, and tiny live fish. Dwarf angelfish come in a wide range of sizes and may be found in a wide variety of species.
Therefore, various species of dwarf angels have a variety of distinct options available to them when it comes to their diet. Additionally, the tiny breed may be cultivated to consume pellets and algae.

Which dwarf angelfish is the biggest?

The Japanese angelfish (Centropyge interruptus), which measures up to 15 centimeters or six inches in length, takes the cake as the biggest species. Although it is a really lovely fish and has the appearance of a huge Coral beauty hybrid, you probably won’t pick one up by mistake since the price is said to be as high as $1,030 for a single specimen.
In the wild, several other species, like the Bicolor angel (Centropyge bicolor), may reach a length of 15 centimeters or 6 inches, but in captivity, they are far smaller. 
The Regal angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus), which may grow up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) in length, is one of the next biggest angels.

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