The Dusky Dwarf

There are so many fish that could tempt an aquarist but many of them have an attribute or two that means they cannot be chosen.

One of the most beautiful fish types are the angels, for example the emperor angel (Pomacanthus imperator) and the queen angel (Holacanthus ciliaris). These are certainly beautiful but cannot be kept by many aquarists because they grow too large.

So the aquarist with a smaller aquarium has to ignore angelfish? Well, no fortunately not. There are some angelfish that are suited to smaller systems and are also beautiful. These angels are generally termed ‘dwarf’ and there are some really stunning ones. Surely the flame angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) is well known. There are a good few others.

The angel referred to in the title is commonly called the dusky angelfish or coral beauty, the proper name is Centropyge bispinosus.

As with other dwarf angels there isn’t a problem with eventual size as fully grown the fish could be around 4 inches (circa 10cm). On purchase the fish are likely to be in the region of 2 inches (circa 5cm). The fish should not be kept with others of its own kind as usually aggression will occur. It has been known for two dwarf angels to be kept in a smallish aquarium together without mishap but this is unusual and best avoided. If an attempt is to be made to keep two Centropyge types the two fish should differ in size and colouration. In particular, the aquarium should be large with plenty of rockwork which affords the fish many retreats and possibilities of territory. The dusky angel will usually settle down with other suitable fish without problem, though larger more aggressive fish could cause difficulty. Overall the fish is mainly peaceful but aggression could appear from time to time, though nothing usually comes of it.

As can be seen from the link picture the fish is lovely, though photographs don’t really do it justice. The colouration is not so much ‘in the face’ as, say, a flame angel’s, though lovely nevertheless. The colouration can vary a little, some fish are subdued and dusky, others brighter and more striking.

Keeping the fish is reasonably straightforward without any particular requirements except one. This is that though the fish is a general omnivore it should have access to algae. The fish likes to take algae from the aquarium viewing glass and rock surfaces but cannot be considered as a good algae controller. The overall diet should be varied even with algae present, consisting of marine flake, de-frozen brine and mysis shrimp and similar. Food enriched with spirulina algae is a good idea. As always seawater quality should be high. There should be rockwork installed that permits the fish to find a cave or similar for security. The fish is suitable for a reef system though like many fish it could nip at fan worms and possibly even some corals. Usually it is well behaved but there could be exceptions!

The fish when kept in a good environment is considered to be reasonably hardy. However, some aquarists consider it not to be an ideal beginner’s fish as some experience is needed first. This is because of the early mistakes, usually to do with seawater quality that a beginner could make.

Adding one of these fish to a suitable display will not disappoint the aquarist. As stated elsewhere by an unknown source, the dwarf angels are God’s gift to aquarists. It is easy to see why.