Juveniles of three to four inch total length are best
for most aquarists. They are extremely hardy at this size, adaptive
behaviorally and easy to train on non-natural foods. Tank raised
individuals have been offered from time to time of smaller, but
acceptable lengths, and substantial savings. Try one of these if you can
Larger to largest individuals, up to sixteen inches,
should only be tried in huge capacity systems, a few to several hundred
gallons. Over six inches or so, specimens have a greater propensity to
go on food strikes, and develop other 'anomalous' poor adaptive
activities. If you want a big French, either grow one up yourself or
purchase a trade-in; large wild-caught angels frequently fair poorly.
Most specimens offered have been collected by
non-damaging means and adapt well to captivity. The most disqualifying
criteria are labored, rapid breathing; indicative of probable handling
damage and possible heavy gill-parasite load. If the individual eats
readily and seems interested in it's environment, I would easily
overlook a torn fin.
Chemically, French angels are extremely tolerant as
marine species go. They have been used to institute nutrient cycling in
place of the "standard" damsels.
Physically, also, they do well under a broad range of conditions.
Temperatures in the low to upper seventy degrees Fahrenheit are within
their natural range. French's are euryhaline; that is, not sensitive to
a wide span of salinity. The lower range of specific gravities,
1.018-1.021 is suggested. This saves on salt mix, allows for greater
gaseous diffusion, and disfavors external parasites.
Habitat-wise, the French's offered in fish stores are
found associated with rocky, broken bottoms and over grassy flats from
Florida to Brazil, in the Bahamas to the Gulf of Mexico. Provide
numerous rock, coral et alia nooks and crannies/comfort spaces for this
angel and it's tankmates.
French angels are best kept one to a tank. If they
are to be mixed with angels of other genera, it is best to introduce
them to as large a system as possible (fifty gallons plus) at the same
time. Often, a new slightly larger individual may be added in an
established angel system. Moving some of the habitat around and feeding
at the time, and keeping a sharp eye are requisite. Pay careful
attention if mixing angels within this genus, as one will grow more
quickly and eventually do harm to it's fellows in all but the largest of
Small French's display a fluttery motion, as if
wagging their bodies when they swim. The sibling gray angel species do
Juvenile French's are renowned facultative cleaners.
They may be used in place of Labroides wrasses, cleaner gobies or
shrimp as biological controls of parasites. In the wild they set up
formal cleaning stations. Beyond three to four inches in length their
cleaning activity drops off rapidly.
Moe (1976) describes natural and captive spawning for
those with gigantic systems and big dreams.
A very critical and frequently the weak area
in keeping marine angelfishes.
French juveniles accept live, frozen and dry-prepared
foods readily. Adults can be kept in good health by feeding cut squid,
crustaceans, nutritious prepared frozen foods and some substantial
amounts of "green" materials. Caulerpa and Ulva algae and
table-salad matter is acceptable. For optimal health and color, either a
prepared sponge-containing food or live-sponge-rock must be provided.
Stomach contents analysis of wild French angels reveals the importance
of sponge matter to these and other Caribbean angels.
Pomacanthus paru is typically disease-resistant and
long-lived, providing you start with a clean specimen and keep it under
One oft-cited problem is a type of blindness seems to
be a result of dietary deficiency. Using a substantial amount of plant
material, frozen, fresh, flake with vitamin supplements precludes
this problem. Check your prepared foods label for "stabilized" vitamin
C, or provide same to the water or food on a regular basis.
These fish are not easily susceptible to disease;
they should be about the last one's to show evidence of the same. The
common parasitic marine diseases can be quickly cured up with copper
medications and/or manipulation of specific gravity.
So here is another Caribbean angel well-suited as an
aquarium specimen. A good angel for the beginner marine keeper to the
professionals looking for a restaurant, doctor's office show piece that
is hardy and imprints on humans.
Allen, Gerald R. 1979. Butterfly and Angelfishes of
the World Vol.2 Care and Keeping. Mergus Publ., West Germany
Campbell, Douglas 1981. Marines: Their Care &
Keeping. Pomacanthus. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium 9/81
DeGiorgis, Joseph A. The French Angelfish:
Pomacanthus paru. FAMA 3/87.
Miller, Gary 1985. Angelfish of the Caribbean.
Freshwater and Marine Aquarium 8/85
McKenna, Scott 1990. Keeping the Flamboyant French
Angel. TFH 1/90.
Moe, Martin A., Jr. 1976. Rearing Atlantic
Angelfish Marine Aquarist 7:7, 1976
Stratton, Richard F. 1992. The Gray Angelfish,
Pomacanthus arcuatus. TFH 3/92.
Tuskes, Paul M. 1980. Observations on Tropical
Atlantic Angelfish on the Reef and in Captivity. Freshwater and Marine