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Emperor Angelfish : Care And Requirements Of The Emperor Angelfish

Updated on November 28, 2010

Emperor angelfish Juvenile

Emperor Angelfish Overview

Scientific Name : Pomacanthus Imperator

Origin : Indo-Pacific, Red Sea

DIfficulty :Medium

Minimum Size Tank : 150 gallons

Temperament : Semi-Aggressive

Temperature : 72 - 82°F

Reef Safe : No

Maximum Size : 16 inches

Diet : Omnivore

The Emperor angelfish is one of the three most popular "large" angelfish in the saltwater aquarium hobby. The other two are the queen angelfish (Holacanthus Ciliaris) and the french angelfish (Pomacanthus Paru).

Adult Emperor Angelfish

They are stunning as juveniles or as adults. Juveniles have white concentric rings all over their deep blue bodies. It is the adults that really catch the eye of the onlooker. Its body is a dark blue/purple with horizontal yellow lines streaking towards its tail. It wears a black mask outlined by neon blue across its eyes.

It is a commonly found fish, hailing from throughout the Indo-Pacific.They are commonly offered on the market so you should have no trouble acquiring a specimen. Juvenile emperor angels set up cleaning stations in the wild where they are visited by other fish looking to rid themselves of parasites. This behaviour can be witnessed in captivity as you will see in a video further down. Juveniles start from around $60 while adults can go for more than $200. Very large show quality adults can fetch up to $400.

Gorgeous Emperor in a reef tank

Emperor Angelfish : Temperament

All large angelfish have the potential to become really big bullies in captivity. The emperor angelfish is aggressive towards other large angels and very hostile towards fishes of the same species.

It generally leaves fishes from outside the Pomacanthidae family alone but might go after fishes a large or with the same overall body shape as itself.

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish cleaning

Emperor Angelfish : Tank Size

The emperor angelfish has been known to reach 16 inches in the wild. This means you can expect lengths of up to 10 to 11 inches in the tank as Emperor angelfish do not normally achieve their full length in captivity.

But its still a big fish so it requires large tanks to truly do well. 150 gallons should be the bare minimum and a 200 gallon or larger tank is highly recommended.

Scape the tank allow for ample swimming room.

Juvenile Emperor going to town on some corals

Emperor Angelfish : Diet

This fish is not reef safe. They are normally seen in fish only tanks as opposed to reef tanks and there's a good reason for that.

In the wild their diet is made up of corals, sponges, tunicates and algae. Try to avoid housing them in an aquarium full of corals as they can make short work of them.

Offer them a good variety of foods from meaty foods like mysis shrimp and krill to sheets of nori/seaweed. New Life Spectrum offers a very balanced pellet food as well.

Formula Two is a balanced food that is pretty god for your Emperor Angelfish. It contains a mix of seafood and an extra portion of algae for herbivorous fish. It is available in three forms, flake, pellet and frozen.

Angel Formula by Ocean Nutrition is by far the most complete food you can offer your Emperor Angelfish. This food was specifically designed to cater to the needs of large angelfish like the emperor, they contain a good mix of fresh algae, fresh seafood, vitamins and most importantly, marine sponges. Angel Formula only comes in frozen cubes.

With regards to seaweed sheets for your Emperor Angelfish, you could choose either sheets from companies catering to angelfish or you can always run down to your local supermarket and get some there. Depending on the brand they can be very cheap or very expensive.

Make sure you buy unflavoured/unspiced nori when shopping at the supermarket. Regular plain nori will do. Raw if you can find some. Attach the seaweed/nori to a clip and stick in onto the side of the aquarium.

The Best Books on Marine Angelfish

Angelfishes of the World (Oceanographic Series) (Oceanographic Seies)
Angelfishes of the World (Oceanographic Series) (Oceanographic Seies)

The most detailed and comprehensive book the marine angelfish to date. No other book comes close. Covers all known species.



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    • profile image

      Lan Phan 

      5 years ago

      I recently purchased a Blue Face Angelfish & a Juvenile Emperator. But somehow my Sailfin Tang & Blue Face Angelfish is nipping my Emperator's fins.

    • PirateFX profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I've definitely seen them mixed before in very large tanks. How big is your tank?

    • profile image

      Tom Barragan 

      7 years ago

      Is teh emperor compatible with a french angel?, I plan to buy an emperor and I hve a frncha angel about 7" long.

      Sme special info?

      Thank you for your response

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I plan to add Emperor Angel in 6 months to my 180

      I quarantine my fish for 2 months, freshwater dip, methane blue, then copper , lastly malachite green,.

      My aquarium currenlly houses a Powder Blue Tang, Sailfin Tang, Regal Tang, 2 Darwin Clownfish....

    • PirateFX profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Brad,

      Seven Years!! That is a really long time and is testament to good husbandry on your part. Outstanding.

    • profile image

      brad laight 

      9 years ago

      hi i have had my emperor angelfish since a juvenile, i must admit they are the best fish by far. i have had my emperor for about seven years, and i have been lucky to see him change over the years into an adult. mines not a fussy eater, and will eat anything i put in my tank. he gets along with all my other fish for example regal tang,yellow tang,coral beauty, bannerfish etc... i keep him in my fish only tank which is a 800 gallon tank, which was specially made.


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