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What is a French Angelfish?

J.L. Drede
J.L. Drede

The French angelfish, also known by its scientific name of Pomacanthus Paru, is commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean in areas as spread out as the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and the Caribbean Sea. It is a popular fish for saltwater aquariums as well, and is commonly found in pet stores across the United States and Europe.

In some parts of Asia, it is also a popular fish for eating. It can grow up to sizes of 16 inches (about 41 centimeters) and are usually dark brown or black with curved vertical yellow stripes covering their entire body. These bars of color fade slowly over time, and as the fish ages its entire body with lighten in tone, eventually adopting a blue color.

Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

In the wild the fish is most commonly found in shallow waters near reefs, but they have also been known to venture fairly deep in the ocean waters. Some have been spotted in waters as deep as 300 feet (100 meters). It is believed that the French angelfish is monogamous during its life, and in the wild they are usually seen in pairs that stay together until death. These pairs can be extremely territorial, and will often chase away or attack any comers who attempt to live in their claimed hiding areas or breeding grounds.

In an aquarium setting it is best to keep French angelfish in pairs. Because of its size, a large aquarium, at least 100 gallons (375 liters), is recommended. While it can adapt to a wide variety of water settings, a a tank with a pH level of 8.1-8.4 and a water temperature of 74-78 degrees Fahrenheit (23-25.5 Celsius) is ideal. Like most types of fish found in an aquarium, this species prefer to have rocks, coral and other decorative elements in the tank that can provide shelter and cover.

Just like in the wild, French angelfish are territorial and may also eat smaller fish for food, so care should be taken when selecting tank mates. Many fish experts recommend adding the angelfish to a tank after other smaller fish have already been added, as they are less likely to be aggressive and territorial that way. Since the angelfish is an omnivore, it should be fed a diverse diet, mixing both flake food and meaty foods such as shrimp.

Like other Pomacanthidae, the French Angelfish is an egg-laying species, which can make breeding in the aquarium fairly difficult. In addition to the dangers of other fish in the tank eating the eggs, the French angelfish become even more territorial than usual during their spawning period, and may attack and kill any fish it perceives as a threat. While it is difficult, successful breeding in capability has been accomplished.

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    • Veterinarian with a puppy
      Veterinarian with a puppy