Regal angels are found ranging widely over
rich coral areas, ducking in and out of crevices. These
sheltering caverns are always places of good circulation.
Water quality. I acknowledge Hemdal with
pointing out that angels be introduced to established systems
only. They do not weather nitrogen cycling changes well. Wait
till the aquarium has been set up a good three to four months
before introducing angels. Gunther Dawal in Prof. Ladiges
Aquarium Digest International piece credits strong water
circulation and frequent water changes with his success with
Tank size should be at least four feet in
length, sixty-plus gallons for even a small regal. They attain a
length of about a foot in captivity, two in the wild.
An important factor in failure and success in
keeping angels. I recommend at least once daily an offering of a
meaty food; chopped fresh or frozen clam, crab, shrimp, squid...
and some source of greenery. Marine algae are best; you
can grow some of these, others can be purchased from the
oriental section at your food store. Lettuce made mushy by
freezing, spinach, husked peas are used by some. Some personal
acquaintances that have had success keeping Regals on more
standard fare advise avoiding gelatin-based frozen foods. There
are excellent preparations made without gelatin and these are
much better for your angels. Check the labels for ingredients.
Live rock and dry-prepared foods are accepted
often, but should not be considered staples. Live saltwater
foods are unnecessary for marine angels and too easily introduce
disease. Stick with frozen.
Refusing food for a few days should not
overly concern you; however large angels do have hearty
appetites. Feeding strikes cal for water changes, vitamin-based
feeding stimulants and a switch-up in foods offered. A fresh
opened shellfish often works wonders. Your specimens ought to
have an overall plump appearance when in good condition. San
Francisco Bay Brands are excellent.
Our most problematic area with regal angels
is nutrition. Pygoplites feeds almost exclusively on
tunicates (sea squirts) and sponges in the wild. Allen and
Steene (1979) give this species their most difficult species
rating for the amount of care required.
The locale of source is a very important
matter. Currently most regal angels are still imported from the
Philippine Islands. These are the worst. I will not elaborate
here as I've covered the "reasons why" elsewhere (irresponsible
methods of capture, holding, transport...). I lived and worked
in the trade in the P.I. for two years; the fish used to be
Thankfully these fish have a very wide range,
being found in some numbers throughout the Indo-Pacific and Red
Sea, and are offered from other countries. If you're determined
to "buy and try" the best places to procure a Pygoplites
from is every place else: The Red Sea is the absolute best; Sri
Lanka, Australia and Singapore are also favored. They are found
as far east as some of the islands of French Polynesia (the
photo here was taken in Moorea), but not from Hawaii. Ask your
dealers the origins of their stock; if they don't know of refuse
to warrant where from, let that outfit fail. They don't deserve
to be in the trade.
Considering size, whenever you buy this or
any other large angel shoot for a mature individual, three to
four inches overall length with adult coloration.
Eating and Index of Fitness (Plumpness): In remarking on his
experiments with Australian angels, Emmens stated "It would seem
that not more than one in ten specimens of Pygoplites
diacanthus survives for any period and the majority seem to
be condemned to slow starvation in the aquarist's tank." The
specimen must be shown to be feeding in the supplier's tank and
be full-bodied, especially not "thin in the head". If at all
practical, leave the prospective purchase with a deposit for a
week or two and visit back for another feeding demonstration.
Frayed fins and rapid breathing (more than
one-hundred shallow gill beats per minute) are also cited as
reasons for leaving a regal where it is.
The quality of "brightness", otherwise
described as interest and reaction to changes in it's
environment seems difficult to describe. Is the Angel "looking
around"? Does it respond to your presence? Good.
Most of what's known is recounted by Thresher
(1984). Many angels are protogynous hermaphrodites, changing
from functional females to males through socially controlled
phenomena much as do several of the wrasses. Some angels live in
harems, others form monogamous pairs, still others as periodic
During spawning seasons at dusk of the dark
or night they release floating eggs and sperm into the upper
water column after an elaborate spiraling dance.
Centropyge, Genicanthus & Pomacanthus
have reports on spawning in captivity. Experimental stripping of
the latter has produced limited numbers of tank-raised young. &
Pomacanthus have reports on spawning in captivity.
Experimental stripping of the latter has produced limited
numbers of tank-raised young.
Only advanced aquarists with large tanks
should attempt to keep P. diacanthus providing adequate
habitat and daily animal and plant food matter.
When enough dealers lose money for lack of
demand for this most beautiful of angelfish species, Regals will
be left in the oceans where they belong. With so many other
attractive, hardy marine angels available they should be. See it
in a video or book, take up diving and go enjoy regal angels in
their natural surroundings. Please don't buy this fish unless
Allen, Gerald R. & Roger C. Steene, 1979.
Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Aquarium Systems/Mergus
Allen, Gerald, Roger Steene & Mark Allen. 1998. A Guide to
Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Tropical Reef Research/Odyssey
Publishing, Singapore/San Diego. 250pp.
Burgess, Warren E., 1991. Two New Genera of
Angelfishes, Family Pomacanthidae. Tropical Fish Hobbyist. 3/91.
Emmens, C.W., 1972. Pacific Angelfish. Marine
Emmens, C.W., 1983. Large Pacific
Angelfishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist. 3/83.
Hemdal, Jay, 1989. Marine Angelfish; Color &
Style. Aquarium Fish Magazine. 8/89.
Ladiges, Prof., 1978. Marine Fish: Angelfish.
Aquarium Digest International #19.
Moenich, David R., 1988. Breaking the Rules.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist. 3/88.
Thresher, R.E., 1984. Reproduction in Reef
Fishes. Pt. 3 Angelfishes (Pomacanthidae). Tropical Fish