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African Pygmy Angelfish

Scientific Name: Centropyge acanthops
Family: Pomacanthidae

About the African Pygmy Angelfish

Species Type: Saltwater Fish
Category: Dwarf Angelfish
Care Level: Moderate. Healthy specimens are frequently available for purchase, but stress in shipping does sometimes occur. Will accept dried foods after settling in, but frozen foods or algae grazing sheets may be required initially. After proper quarantine and acclimation to the display, this fish is generally resistant to disease. An overall good choice for the new saltwater hobbyist.
Origin: Africa
Compatibility/Temperament: The African Pygmy Angelfish is highly territorial for its size. In mixed community settings it should be the last addition, or it should be kept in larger aquariums to minimize aggression. They do best in pairs, and can even be kept with other members of the Centropyge genus in larger sized tanks. In tanks under 6 feet in length, aggression is often shown towards other algae grazing fish, such as Tangs, Rabbitfish, and other angelfish. In larger tanks this is generally not a concern. This species is generally reef safe, but may sometimes nip at corals. This seems to vary from one individual to the next, so if kept in a reef be sure to have a back up plan if yours begins to nip at coral polyps. They are rarely a threat to large-polyped stony corals and clam mantles.


The African Pygmy Angel is an attractive fish, with a nice orange stripe across the top of the body to contrast against a deep purple/blue body. In the aquarium they may hide for several days or longer until adjusting to life in captivity. Once acclimated, they are a very active fish and will spend their day grazing on the rock and sand. In fact, it is highly recommended not to place this fish into a tank without a thriving population of copepods, amphipods, and other microfauna.

Note: Angelfish of the Centropyge genus are highly sensitive to copper medications.

African Pygmy Angelfish Diet

Omnivore- will eat both herbivore and carnivore preparations. They eagerly accept dried and frozen foods, and several feedings per day are suggested. An ample supply of live rock to allow for grazing is almost mandatory for this genus. They struggle in tanks without a mature live rock and sand bed, but are extremely sturdy in mature aquarium environments with live rock.


The African Pygmy Angel grows to about 3'' in length. They are usually available at the LFS in the 1''-2'' size, and are very slow growers in the home aquarium.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

29 gallons

Ideal water parameters for African Pygmy Angelfish

Marine fish are highly sensitive animals with very specific care requirements. Most all saltwater species will require similar water conditions, designed to replicate that of natural seawater. Ammonia and nitrite levels should absolute zero, temperature at 76F to 80F, and salinity at 1.024 to 1.026. Although some fish are tolerant of lower levels of Nitrate, the goal in every aquariums should be to keep Nitrate as close to zero as possible, and certainly under 20ppm. Finally, maintaining a stable pH of 8.0 to 8.4 is desired. Achieving this is made easier by monitoring alkalinity, which should be kept at 8-12 DKH, and calcium, which is targeted at 400 to 460ppm.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Pasfur
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