Marine Angelfish, A Saltwater Aquarium Favorite
The Marine angelfish, also called the Sea Water angelfish and Saltwater Angelfish, most often dwells among coral reefs and is a great favorite for saltwater aquariums. It is an inhabitant of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and will be found mostly in a band between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator. In other words, it is a tropical fish. With a flat, disc-shaped body and triangular fins, the marine angelfish is an extremely attractive fish, no matter what its color.
Freshwater and Saltwater Species Not Of The Same Family - The Marine angelfish and the freshwater angelfish species are very similar in appearance, but not all that closely related. The closest relative to the marine angelfish is the butterfly fish. Obviously one cannot put Marine angelfish in the same aquarium with the freshwater angelfish as it would not survive in fresh water, nor could its distant relative survive for long in salt water. In any event the two angelfish would likely not get along well anyway.
There are many different species of Marine angelfish perhaps 70 to 80, divided into 7 primary types or groups. There are just as many species of freshwater angelfish, close to a hundred. Marine angelfish feed on smaller fish, other sea animals, and plants. Their favorite food however is the sponge. They are rather hardy by nature which, along with their beauty, makes them a good choice for an aquarium, but whereas the freshwater angelfish are easy to breed, the marine angelfish appears incapable of breeding in captivity. One reason may be that the species scatters its eggs at random rather than depositing them in one place, but this doesn't completely answer the question. The fish seemingly is unwilling to lay eggs in captivity.
Marine angelfish vary in size from the largest being nearly 2' long, to the smallest which is under 6” in length. Most marine angelfish fall into the 9" to 12" bracket. Some of the larger species have been caught for food, but some species or individual fish have been found to be toxic. In aquariums the angelfish get on quite well with many other types of fish although there are some smaller fish they may eat. What a marine angelfish does not like to see in an aquarium is another of its own kind. Even a different species of marine angelfish is unwelcome. This of course may be one reason why breeding these saltwater fish is so difficult. In the wild, the angelfish seems to have no problem in finding a mate, and once that is done, the two often keep company permanently. Not in an enclosed aquarium.
From Black And Yellow To Gray - One characteristic of the marine angelfish is that some of the species change colors as they mature. You might purchase a young Gray Angel, which is a very attractive black fish with yellow stripes when young, but becomes a distinct shade of gray when mature. Of course in this case the name should be a tip-off as to what to expect. Other species go the other direction, from a rather drab beginning to becoming a very colorful fish as an adult. While the name is usually descriptive, a photographic image of the fish as it matures can be helpful if you want to avoid ending up with a gray fish.
Three Popular Species - Most of the marine angelfish you'll find in a store are moderately hardy to very hardy. Some species simply do not survive long in captivity, but fortunately you're not apt to find these for sale for that very reason. If you purchase one of the better known species, all should be well. Queen Angels and Blue Angels are popular species which fit into the very hardy class, as does the Emperor angelfish, though the latter can be quite expensive. Regardless of what species you eventually decide upon, the marine angelfish makes an attractive and interesting addition to the aquarium. That even goes for the gray ones.