The Pomacanthidae family of Marine Angelfishes consists of around 86 different species distributed through 8 genera. In nature, these imposing fishes are found in many shallow tropical reef environments where they generally graze during the day on algae or sponges (fulfilling an important ecological role), then retreat into the cover of the reef as night falls. All species posses the prominent gill cover spine indeed this is where the family name comes from (Poma meaning “cover” and akantha meaning “thorn” in Ancient Greek). The spine also demarks the difference between the Angelfishes and the closely-related Butterflyfishes, which don’t have a spine. Some species are more cryptic and inhabit deeper waters, and some are even plankton feeders. Some species make great beginner fish for even modest sized aquaria, but some can be extremely challenging to maintain in captivity, and some require very large aquaria for long-term captive care. Although some species are now available as captive-bred, some are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the wild. Click on a genus name for more detail on these beautiful and diverse fishes.

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