News / Species Spotlight / Multicolor Angelfish (Centropyge multicolor) (10/13/16)

Multicolor Angelfish (Centropyge multicolor)

Species Spotlight - Multicolor Angelfish (Centropyge multicolor)
One of the more exotic beauties among the dwarf angelfishes is a deep-dwelling species from the Central Pacificthe Multicolor Angelfish. It belongs to an exclusive club with many rare and expensive species which typically occur only around oceanic islands and at depths below 20 meters. Included here are legendary and nearly unobtainable species like C. hotumatua from Easter Island, C. nahackyi from Johnston Atoll, C. joculator from Cocos and Christmas Island, and C. debelius from the Mascarenes. Of these, only the Multicolor Angelfish is regularly collected and affordable, making this quite a unique addition to an aquarium.

The known distribution of this species is quite vast, stretching from Micronesia in the north to Melanesia and Polynesia in the south. It has even on rare occasion been found in Hawaii, though it is mostly replaced by C. nahackyi at nearby Johnston Atoll. Aquarium specimens are liable to come from a number of sources, including Kiritimati, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Fiji, the Cook Islands and Tahiti, and, for the most part, these all look about the same.

The colors of this fish are quite unmistakable, having a yellow throat, and brown belly, a white back, blue & black dorsal and anal fins, bright yellow caudal and pelvic fins, and a distinctive coif of blue and black above the eye. This is, in every sense of the word, a multicolored angelfish. The most similar species C. nahackyi, which differs only in having the dark colors of the belly expanded upwards into the back. It has also been reported that aquarium specimens of C. multicolor exposed to bright lights frequently develop darker colors along the back.

The captive care of this species is little different from other dwarf angelfishes. A wide range of foods will be accepted, including flakes and pellets, but it is recommended to offer a diet high in vegetable matter, as this fish likely feeds mostly on algae, detritus and sponge in the wild. In a reef tank, fleshier corals (e.g. brains, acans, scolys) are likely to be picked upon, but, in a large enough system, the damage done is usually limited.

This is a haremic species that is typically found in numbers ranging from 3-7, with a single dominant male watching over his courtesans. This can be accomplished in an aquarium if specimens are acquired as juveniles or at disparate sizes, though a reasonably large tank is needed. All individuals start off as females, only switching sex when they are allowed to mature in isolation or become dominant over any local females. Other appropriate tank mates might include fellow deepwater species, such as the Candy Hogfish, the Longnose Hawkfish or some of the Fairy Wrasses. A mesophotic biotope can easily be built around this stunning species, or it can just as easily be added as a centerpiece to a more traditional mix of reef fishes.