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Large Marine Angelfish

Large Marine Angelfish Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

large marine angelfish

This care sheet covers a variety of large marine angelfish, including:



Pomacanthus navarchus, Pygoplites diacanthus, Holacanthus passer, Pomacanthus zonipectus, Genicanthus watanabei, Pomacanthus imperator, Pomacanthus semicirulatus, Pomacanthus xanthometopon, Genicanthus bellus, Holacanthus ciliaris, Holacanthus bermudensis, Holacanthus tricolor


With their stunning colors and array of patterns, large marine angelfish can add a bit of elegance and graceful movement to your aquarium.  Although native to coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, most should be kept in fish-only aquariums because they can nip at invertebrates, clams and corals. There are a few species, like the bellus angelfish, that are considered reef-safe. Large marine angelfish are semi-aggressive and cannot be kept with their own species unless they are a mated pair. However, they may be kept in the same aquarium with other large angelfish species, provided the aquarium is large enough and the fish are properly acclimated as juveniles.


Typical appearance and behavior

  • Large marine angelfish can be territorial
  • They come in vibrant colors and patterns, with most going through dramatic color changes as they age from juvenile to adult
  • Some species adapt better to captivity; research should be completed before selecting a species
  • Most are active during the day and rest at night in rocks and crevices
  • They are born female and can become male under certain circumstances
  • Often described as pancake shaped, their shape helps them escape predators through smaller crevices and openings within the reef



Care Difficulty Beginner to advanced, depending on species
Average Life Span Up to 15+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size 6 to 20 inches, depending on species
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 55+ gallons for juvenile;
125+ gallons for adults, depending on species
Water Temperature 74–80°F
Specific Gravity 1.020-1.025




Habitat size

A minimum of a 55+ gallons is recommended for a juvenile large marine angelfish, which will need to be upgraded as it matures. 125+ gallons is recommended for an adult large marine angelfish.


Building your habitat

  • Water health - Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Slow to strong water circulation, based on species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the large marine angelfish's natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period.
  • Décor- Provide rock and décor for hiding places and plenty of room for movement.
  • Live rock can provide a natural food source while also enhancing biological filtration.





A well-balanced large marine angelfish diet includes:

  • A variety of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods
  • Commercial algae sheets
  • Some large angelfish have specialized diets, requiring them to eat sponge


Things to remember when feeding your large marine angelfish:

  • Feed small amounts 2 to 3 times daily, no more than fish will eat in 1 to 2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding


Large marine angelfish care

Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your large marine angelfish healthy

  • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
  • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
  • Weekly to monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every two to four weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly

Avoid overcrowded conditions; this is a major cause of stress and disease


Where to buy large marine angelfish

Various large marine angelfish are available for purchase at Petco online and in store; availability varies by location. If visiting your local Petco Pet Care Center location, please call ahead to check availability.






Tank mates



Signs of a healthy large marine angelfish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged
  • Free of parasites or disease


Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Labored breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes or pop-eye
  • Bloating
  • Frayed fins
  • Listlessness


Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; add freshwater salt and use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueMarine Ich or marine velvet Symptoms or CausesCysts on fins, gills and skin; labored breathing; excess skin mucus or pale skin. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately and use a commercial parasite remedy as directed; complete a water change; freshwater dips can help dislodge the parasites; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueViral infection (lymphocystis) Symptoms or CausesWhite nodule growths on fins or body Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.



  • What do large marine angelfish eat? Large marine angelfish are omnivores and can be provided a variety of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods. They should also be provided dried algae sheets regularly. Some species also need to have sponges offered in their diet.
  • What fish can live with large marine angelfish? Large marine angelfish can be territorial, but typically they can live happily with numerous fish species including tangs, wrasses, anthias and many more.
  • How big do large marine angelfish get? Adult large marine angelfish can range in size from 6 to 18+ inches, depending on species.


Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center partner about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.


The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.