News / Species Spotlight / Popular Piscines - Lemon Peel Angels (02/12/15)

Popular Piscines - Lemon Peel Angels

In The Wild

The Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissima) is a very common fish on tropical coral reefs around the world. So widespread actually that they are conspicuous by their absence from places like Malaysia, Hawaii and Johnston Atoll. They're generally found in less than 80 feet of water. Specimens from Christmas Island and Cocos-Keeling have blue eyes (image on bottom), where as the fish throughout the rest of the Pacific have gold eyes with a blue halo around them (image on right). Indian Ocean specimens frequently lack the blue halo.

Lemonpeels throughout their range have a blue spot on their side as juveniles; it quickly fades as they grow. For some reason, the fish from the Indian Ocean keep that blue spot longer than their Pacific based cousins. C. flavissima stays pretty small, with the max reported size being just over 5 inches.

One of the most interesting facets of these dwarf angels is their proclivity towards hybridizing with both Centropyge eibli and Centropyge vroliki. Surveys in several locations have shown these hybrids have been found to be up to almost ten percent of the population. Furthermore, these hybrids aren't sterile and can breed back into the population creating many generations of ambiguous color forms (as seen in the above banner).

In The Aquarium

This is one of the best fish, let alone Angelfish, for marine aquarium owners. They are brilliantly colored, hardy, stay small and don't require a huge aquarium at max size. Males in the wild defend a very small territory, and do it without much aggression; that translates to a fish that works pretty well in common home aquarium sizes. These fish have been kept in harems for extended periods, and have been spawned successfully in the home aquarium as a result. This being said, aggression can pop up between these and other dwarf angels so use caution when mixing them in the same aquarium.

Lemonpeels have been reported to live more than 10 years in captivity and because of a small adult size, can be kept in aquariums as small as 75 gallons even at their end grow out. They are pretty slow growing once past their juvenile stage, though obviously this can be sped up with more feedings.

These have an undeserved reputation for being finicky and delicate. This fish performs brilliantly for us in house, all of them taking a good mix of food very quickly and almost never having problems. Of course, we source the majority of our Lemonpeel Angels from our Short Supply Chains, and this can make all the difference in the world as far as quality of animal goes. We don't recommend placing them in reef aquariums as they have a penchant for nipping LPS corals and clam mantles. This being said, many hobbyists report having kept them in reef aquariums for years without incident. Providing lots of rockwork gives them more surfaces to graze algae off of.

Allen, Steene, Allen, A guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes, 1st ed. (Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Publications Inc, Australia, 1998).
Debelius, Tanaka, Kuiter, Angelfishes, 1st ed. (TMC Publishing, Chorelywood, UK, 2003).
Endoh, Angelfishes of the World, 1st ed. (Ricordea Publishing, Miami Gardens, FL, 2007).
Scott W. Michael, Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2004).
World Register of Marine Species (WORMS)

In House Sources: Adam Mangino, Brent Robinson, Eli Fleishauer