Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus): Ultimate Care Guide

The Lemonpeel Angelfish can be a feisty and stunning addition to your salt water aquarium. One of the more aggressive dwarf angelfish, this species has a tendency to fight. Males will fight each other to the death. They will even attack other fish species, especially those they resemble. Not reef safe, the Lemonpeel Angelfish will nibble at LPS corals and zoanthids.

Lemonpeel Angelfish should be kept alone. You can keep two or three together as long as they are breeding pairs or trios. But this is a fish known to fight and eat tank mates. Although omnivorous, they will constantly graze on algae. This will require a large enough tank to support enough algae growth. Encouraging this fish to eat prepared foods presents a challenge. You’ll want to make sure your tank has a healthy population of macroalgae and diatoms. Lemonpeel Angelfish are not suitable for new aquariums for this reason.

Although moderately difficult to care for, the Lemonpeel Angelfish is a beautiful species that will reward the extra effort they need. If you are thinking about adding this fish to your collection then read on to get all the facts you’ll need to be successful!

Lemonpeel Angelfish Care

Lemonpeel Angelfish need extra effort to thrive in an aquarium. Once they acclimatize to a new tank environment they can be hardy, but this is a difficult process. Ensure your tank has enough algae growth for this species to graze on before expecting them to accept prepared foods.


Lemonpeel Angelfish prefer tank temperatures between 72° and 80° F (22° – 26° C).

Water pH

Like many salt water species, Lemonpeel Angelfish prefer alkaline water between 8 a 8.4 pH. Ensure the alkalinity in your tank doesn’t drop below 8.

Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus)
Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus)

Lemonpeel Angelfish Size

With a maximum size of 5.5 inches, Lemonpeel Angelfish are one of the smaller angelfish species–also known as pygmy or dwarf angelfish.

Food & Diet

Lemonpeel Angelfish are omnivores but mainly eat algae. They have difficulty adapting to prepared food. You’ll want to make sure your tank has enough macroalgae growth, live rock and diatoms to keep your Lemonpeel fed as they become accustomed to prepared foods. This also means having a large enough aquarium to support all of this growth. 30 gallon tanks are the minimum for a single specimen. If you have mated pairs or trios, go with 55 gallon tanks or larger. Though a small fish, their constant grazing habits need to be properly supported.

Also note that a fresh tank is not a good habitat for your Lemonpeel Angelfish. It takes a new tank six months or more to begin to grow the macroalgae and diatom population this species needs to graze on. Increase your chance of success by providing a proper habitat with enough food before trying to incorporate this species.

Lemonpeel Angelfish can be coaxed to prepared foods if they see other fish eating them. If you have some species who are accustomed to tank foods they can set a good example.

When introducing prepared foods start with those that contain marine algae, mysis shrimp, shaved shrimp or brine shrimp. Rotate through these with each feeding until your Lemonpeel Angelfish become accustomed to these prepared foods. Eventually, expect to feed two to three times every day.

Lemonpeel Angelfish Lifespan

Lemonpeel Angelfish can live up to 11 years with skilled care. Provide enough food, both in tank and prepared. Watch your water chemistry and adjust as needed to keep it within a tolerable range for your fish.

Lemonpeel Angelfish Tank Size

A single Lemonpeel Angelfish will need a least a 30 gallon aquarium. Breeding pairs or trios will need 55 gallons or larger. Having enough tank space is important due to this species’ grazing habits. You need enough space for the macroalgae and live rock your Lemonpeels need for food. Don’t assume they will take to prepared foods immediately. Once they are comfortable with tank foods they still constantly graze in their environment.

Tank Setup

Lemonpeel Angelfish need enough space for themselves and their food source of macroalgae. Plan for a larger tank than their size would suggest. Lemonpeel Angelfish are not reef safe and will nibble on LPS corals, some soft coral polyps and zoanthids. This species is a constant grazer and needs established live rock and macroalgae to keep it healthy.

Live rock can be purchased but carries the risk of introducing undesired organisms to your tank. Purchased live rock can be expensive in the quantities needed by Lemonpeel Angelfish. If starting a new aquarium, consider making your own live rock. This is time-consuming but benefits from cost savings. And is better for the environment than harvested coral with less chance of adding uninvited guests to your tank. A downside to creating your own live rock is that is can look artificial and won’t have the same aesthetic as either natural or professionally produced live rock.

DIY dry rock, and in some cases purchased dry rock, will need to be cured. This process involves soaking in salt water with frequent water changes and ammonia monitoring. The goal is to let it soak until it has released nearly all of its ammonia content. This can take 3 weeks to 6 months and there are really no shortcuts.

After curing, the dry rock will need to be treated with bacteria to begin the transition to live rock. Kits are available for fishless cycling. This process happens in the initial stages of a new aquarium setup and has the benefit of not risking any fish.

Lemonpeel Angelfish Breeding

Lemonpeel Angelfish are very difficult to breed in captivity. They reproduce by external fertilization, releasing eggs and sperm simultaneously at dusk. If attempting to captive breed, ensure your tank has enough size and depth to allow them enough space to rise for spawning. This should be 20 inches or more.

All Lemonpeel Angelfish are born female. In pairs or trios, the most dominant member will become male. Males will fight to the death so only have one per tank. They can also be hostile to newcomers even if they are the same species. When planning breeding pairs or trios it is best to let them live together from a young age. Ideally before any have become male.

In nature Lemonpeel Angelfish spawn at dusk. To simulate this, keep a regular lighting schedule. Have half of your lights turn off and hour before the rest. Also maintain a tank temperature around 80° F, not exceeding 83° F, for 14 to 16 hours a day.

If your efforts are successful and spawning occurs, the eggs will hatch in under 24 hours. Finding foods that newly hatched fry will eat can be a challenge. Newly hatched Parvocalanus Crassirostris Copepods are a suitable food source. There is scant information about breeding Lemonpeel Angelfish because spawning happens rarely in captivity.

Common Diseases

Lemonpeel Angelfish are susceptible to many of the same diseases as other marine fish. Antibiotics and treatment can take longer with salt water fish so be ready to setup a quarantine tank (QT). Having a quarantine tank operating is a good way to observe new specimens before adding to your display tank. When treating for infections, a QT allows you to isolate specimens for the extended treatment period often needed for marine fish. Also some medications are unsafe for corals and other invertebrates. A QT lets you use all options to heal your sick fish.

Lemonpeel Angelfish Tank Mates

Lemonpeel Angelfish can be aggressive to smaller fish, unfamiliar members of the same species and certain types of coral. They are not reef safe. Finding compatible tank mates can be a challenge and is hit or miss. Any fish that looks too similar to a Lemonpeel Angelfish will be at risk of attack. Mimic Tangs have yellow coloration when juvenile, so avoid these. Sailfin Tangs and Clownfish can be good matches.

Among Lemonpeel Angelfish there can often be problems. Males will fight other males to the death. This species will often not get along with newcomers of the same species. They are aggressive enough that often hobbyists will keep them as solitary specimens. If you are set on keeping more than one Lemonpeel, obtain them as a group of two or three when young. As they mature they will become more familiar to each other and the most dominant one in the group will turn into a male.

Where can I find Lemonpeel Angelfish for sale?

Lemonpeel Angelfish are available via Internet sellers and in some aquarium shops. Expect to pay between $60 and $150 for your Lemonpeel. Ensure that you have a properly setup aquarium before ordering your fish. Your new Lemonpeel will want an established tank with live rocks and macroalgae.

Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus) vs False Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge heraldi): What are their similarities/differences?

The False Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge heraldi) is visually similar to the Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus) but lacks the blue markings around the eyes, gill plates and caudal fins. False Lemonpeel Anglefish are similar in temperament to Lemonpeel Angelfish, including the lack of tolerance for fishe that have a similar appearance. They are somewhat safer in reef tanks but still require careful planning as they will nip as some corals. False Lemonpeel Angelfish require larger tanks: 70 gallons to start. They are more prone to hide until they feel safe in a particular aquarium.

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