Regal (aka royal) angelfish or Pygoplites diacanthus are members ofthe family Pomacanthidae. There are 86 known species of marine angelfish belonging to 7 different genera. This species is native to the tropical regions of the Red Sea and Indo-Pacific. Large populations of these shallow to mid-water dwellers exist off the cost of Guam. They are one of the most prominent angelfish on the Great Barrier Reef.
These angelfish received their names from the alternating royal colored striping pattern on their body. Although coloration varies, they are generally within the same spectrum. Their heads are predominately yellow with a subtle splash of orange for accent. Their bodies are yellow or orange with light blue or lavender vertical stripes outlined in darker variations of the same color. Their posterior fins are usually blue and purple or yellow and purple with a solid color caudal fin. What ever the variation, their colors emulate the look of European royalty from days gone by.
Regal angelfish will reach an approximate adult length of 10 inches. This is a semi-aggressive fish. It is far less aggressive than many large angelfish. It will not tend to bully its tank mates. It will in fact fare better with smaller and more docile tank mates then it will with larger and more aggressive species. Even though they are classified as a large angel fish, they mix better with dwarf angelfish than angels of their own size. Keep this in mind when thinking about getting one for your community tank. Whether or not they are suitable for a marine reef aquarium depends on its inhabitants. It will nibble on stony coral with large polyps, soft coral and clam mantles. It can however be housed with stony corals of the small-polyped variety and the more noxious soft coral species. Regals will exhibit territorial aggression toward members of their own kind but can be kept as a mated pair. A minimum tank size of 100 gallons is recommended.
This species requires an expert aquarist care level in order to insure its survival. Large angelfish are notorious for their mortality rate in home aquariums. Reports and fish forums indicate that regal angelfish from the Red Sea have a higher survivability rate than those than those captured in Indonesia and the Philippines. This is most likely due to techniques utilized in the capture of these fish and improper shipping and handling methods. Even the hardiest of large angelfish have trouble acclimating to a life of confinement. Most large angels, as is the case with regals, are not covered under “arrive alive” guarantees by many online retailers. Any species that can not be guaranteed to arrive alive should be purchased locally.
This is an omnivorous species with definite carnivorous leanings. In nature their diet consists largely of sponges and tunicates. Their high mortality rates are directly related to their reluctance to feed in captivity. It is highly recommended that you ask your local retailer to watch this fish eat before making a purchase. A fish that you know is already accustomed to feeding in captivity is much more likely to do so for you.
Once you bring your specimen home it may not readily acclimate to its new surroundings. An abundance of well establishes live rock as a food source and plenty of other hiding places will aid in the acclimation process. As is to be expected with royalty, these are infamously finicky eaters. If your fish shows a reluctance to feed try tempting it with live brine shrimp. If this proves successful begin mixing flake or freeze dried food with the brines to begin introducing it to non-live fare. Food preparations specially formulated for marine angelfish will make sure your new arrival gets an adequate supply of sponge matter in its diet. A varied diet will insure fit and vigor and help guard against nutritional deficiencies. Fresh spinach mixed with finely chopped seafood makes for a healthy well rounded meal.