The Lemonpeel Angel

When marine aquarists start an aquarium they are looking for colour, variety and interest. It follows that the livestock selection process is very important. Get it wrong and at the least there is some disappointment generated. So with a fish only or reef aquarium livestock have to be compatible, have character and colour. Let’s look at the Lemonpeel Angelfish. The ‘proper’ name is Centropyge flavissimus.

The first thing that rings an alarm bell is the name angelfish. Some of these, such as the Emperor, grow large, too large for many or most home aquariums. These large angels are also unsuitable for a reef as they are very likely to use the corals as food or at least damage them badly, a trait definitely not required. The Lemonpeel Angel belongs to the group of dwarf angels (Centropyge) and the fish grows to around 4″ (circa 10cm) so that’s the first hurdle, the size, overcome.

On to the next point then, will the fish eat my corals? In the wild the fish is an omnivore but relies quite heavily on algae, both the very short mat type growths and some larger types. The fish will spend the day nosing around the aquarium looking for food and it is fairly likely to inquisitively mouth corals, particularly any that are greenish in colour. This is very similar to the Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus), there is a text on this fish written earlier. As with the Flame Angelfish, the Lemonpeel Angel is generally unlikely to cause damage though it might possibly nip at large polyp stony corals. The fish is easy to feed as it will take flake, frozen food such as brine shrimp etc. As already mentioned the fish eats algae and it is clear that for health and colour this is required. There isn’t any need for unwanted algae, the yukky green stuff. In many (most?) aquariums mat algae grows here and there and the Lemonpeel will find this and graze upon it. It’s fairly likely to graze on the algae that appears on the aquarium viewing glass as well, this will be evident from little holes in it. If it does, don’t be too keen on keeping the glass clear – regularly clean it of course, but not too often say once weekly. So food and feeding is ok. Remember though that if suitable algae is in fairly short supply in the aquarium, include it fairly often with the food given, algae based food can be bought.

There isn’t much to argue about with the fish and its appearance. As with other dwarf angels, it is beautiful. The overall colour is lovely and this is enhanced by the thin blue edging to be seen. There is little doubt that aquarists will find the fish desirable. However, there is one more important hurdle and that is compatibility.

No matter how beautiful a fish is, its desirability will rapidly reduce if it spends time upsetting other fish. What’s wanted is a peaceful community. This fish can be a little peppery, that is to say it can be a little ‘go away, get out of my space’ on occasion. If there are fish of a similar colour the lemonpeel may well object, less so if the fish is clearly larger. Also there will be trouble if there is another Lemonpeel or other type of dwarf angel in the aquarium. Only one dwarf angel should be kept. In addition, so that other members of the community can settle and find their own hidey holes it is best if the Lemonpeel is introduced last. This means that the new Lemonpeel will have to find an unoccupied position to spend the night in before it has developed the confidence to be, or try to be, the boss fish.

The final point and an important one concerns the hardiness of the fish. Overall the Lemonpeel is considered to be moderately hardy. As a comparison, damselfish are considered hardy. This doesn’t mean to say that a Lemonpeel is difficult to keep, but a new aquarist would be better not keeping one until their ability to maintain high quality seawater is proven and the ‘understanding their aquarium’ education is more complete. Perhaps room could be left for the fish until then, a good idea.

So this lovely fish meets all the requirements of the aquarist. Personally I can’t make up my mind which is the most beautiful and desirable, the Lemonpeel Angel or the Flame Angel. I have a Flame Angel and have had it for 11 years so I’m happy. I’m pretty sure I would be with a Lemonpeel Angel too (but not together!).


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