Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus Ciliaris): Ultimate Care Guide

Common NameQueen Angelfish, Blue Angelfish, Yellow Angelfish, Golden Angelfish
Scientific NameHolacanthus Ciliaris
OriginWestern Atlantic Ocean
Water pH8.1-8.4
Adult Size18 inches

Queen Angelfish Facts

  • Queen Angelfish juveniles are a different color than their mature counterparts but both are equally striking.
  • Queen Angelfish are broadcast spawners. This means that the females will release their eggs and the males will fertilize them at the same time and the eggs will drift down into the water where they will hatch and land among the coral reef.
  • Queen Angelfish are very sensitive to changes in their water parameters, and they need to be kept in pristinely clean aquariums. It is important to perform regular water changes and water parameter checks to make sure that their water conditions are not in decline.
Queen Angelfish
Queen Angelfish

The Queen Angelfish has a very boxy looking body with their dorsal and anal fins trailing behind them. They are a magnificent sight in the water with their beautiful coloration. Queen Angelfish are bright blue and yellow. You can identify them by a bright blue disc on their forehead with little blue spots around it. It gives the Queen Angelfish the appearance that it is wearing a crown on its head, and this is the reason it got its name. Their bodies are mostly their vibrant yellow with tints of blue all over. They also have a completely yellow tail. Juvenile Queen Angelfish much like other species of Angelfish are a completely different color than they are when they mature.

Are Queen Angelfish Reef Safe?

Queen Angelfish are not reef safe as they will graze and eat upon both stony and soft corals. In the wild they can be found living among the corals, and they forage and graze the corals for food. This is why they are not considered reef safe.

Queen Angelfish Care

Queen Angelfish are not considered easy fish to care for due to their requirements, and how sensitive they are to changes in their water parameters. They are not recommended for beginners to the fish keeping hobby for this reason. It is important to perform regular water changes, and check their water parameters often to make sure that everything is correct. If their water parameters are not correct, they can begin to suffer and get sick quickly. Not only does their need for lots of space and frequently monitored water parameters, but they are not easy to integrate into a community tank setup either.

Tank Requirements

Queen Angelfish need to be kept in a tank that is at least 180 gallons or larger. If they are kept in a tank that is not large enough, they will become stressed, and much more aggressive towards their tank mates. They do best when kept at a steady temperature of 72F to 78F, and 8.1 to 8.4 pH. They are extremely sensitive to changes in their water parameters, and can easily become ill if they are not being kept in the correct conditions.

Food and Diet

In the wild, Queen Angelfish are opportunistic feeders that live among coral reefs and feed on sponges. They can also be found snacking on plankton and jellyfish. They eat lots of algae, and juvenile Queen Angelfish will even eat parasites from other fish. In captivity they should be fed a high quality diet of spirulina, mysis shrimp, and marine algae. Queen Angelfish should be fed at least 3 times a day, and only enough food that they can completely consume in a few minutes. Any leftover food bits should be removed so that they do not throw off your water parameters. Queen Angelfish, like other species of Angelfish, are sensitive to changes in their water and they can become ill quickly.

Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris)
Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris)

Queen Angelfish Size and Lifespan

Queen Angelfish can grow up to an impressive 18 inches in length. If properly cared for they can live up to 15 years in captivity. Their lifespan is directly related to how well they are cared for and maintained.

Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for Queen Angelfish, it is helpful if you take a look at their natural environment. In the wild, Queen Angelfish spend their time among the coral reef where they search for food. In the aquarium, you will want to create a habitat that gives them many places to hide and destress.

Queen Angelfish prefers a setup with lots of room. They are quick fish that will dart around their aquarium, and it is important to make sure that they have enough room to do so. Live rock is a great choice as they like to graze on algae, and they can hide among the rocks when they are stressed. Stress can make a Queen Angelfish become sickly quite quick.

In addition to all the space that they require, they also require a good light. Good lighting will help keep them healthy by using a daylight bulb to help them absorb the vitamins that they need.

Habitat in the Wild

Queen Angelfish lives among the mature coral reef systems in the ocean. They can be found in the shallows and at depths of around 230 feet. The juvenile Queen Angelfish will feed on parasites on the skin of other fish. This serves as a great source of food. Queen Angelfish males will claim a territory and are usually found swimming alone, in a pair with a male and female, or a male with multiple females.


It is practically impossible to breed Queen Angelfish in captivity due to their high requirement for triggering spawning. Queen Angelfish are broadcast spawners. This means that the male and female Queen Angelfish release their sperm and eggs together so that they can be fertilized. Once their eggs are fertilized, they drift down through the water into the coral reef where they can potentially land in a safe enough space for the egg to remain until it is hatched. Female Queen Angelfish can release up to 75,000 eggs during a single spawning.

How Do Queen Angelfish Breed?

When Queen Angelfish are ready to spawn, the male Angelfish will wave his fins at the female. When the male has finished courting the female, and when the female and the male are both ready, they swim up towards the surface. Queen Angelfish are broadcast spawners. This means that the males and females release their eggs and sperm at the same time to fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs then drift down into the water column for up  to 20 hours where they will hatch, and absorb their yolk sac. They finally settle on the floor amongst the corals as juveniles that are ready to find food for themselves.

Queen Angelfish juvenile

Queen Angelfish Juveniles are a different color than their mature counterparts. Juvenile Queen Angelfish has a darkish black body with electric blue vertical striping. As they get older the darkish coloration fades and they become more yellow with tints of blue.

In the wild, juvenile Queen Angelfish spend their time eating parasites from the skin of other fish. They are very good at this, and get most of their food from doing this as well as scavenging.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Queen Angelfish Males and Females?

It is difficult to tell the difference between male and female Queen Angelfish until they reach full maturity. It is said that male Queen Angelfish are larger than the females are. The female Queen Angelfish has an ovipositor that is rounded and blunted.Female Queen Angelfish have a wider cloaca than the males.

Queen Angelfish Disease

Unfortunately it is quite easy for Queen Angelfish to become ill. There are many reasons that a Queen Angelfish might become sick. They are sensitive to changes in their water parameters, and it is important to perform regular checks to make sure that their water parameters are correct.

Some the illnesses that can affect Queen Angelfish are:


Ich is a parasitic infection that can affect your Queen Angelfish, it is also commonly called white spot disease. It is called white spot disease because it shows up on the scales of the fish and in its gills as white blotches that will grow to take over the whole fish if left untreated. This will eventually cause the death of the fish. Ich can be treated if caught early, but if left untreated the fish will eventually pass from it. Ich is very contagious and can even be carried over to your tank on plants and decor.

Marine Velvet

Marine Velvet is a parasitic disease that can affect your Queen Angelfish. Marine Velvet shows up on the body of your fish as a goldish colored blotch on the skin that has a velvety-like appearance and texture. This is where Marine Velvet gets its name. Just like with Ich, Marine Velvet is curable as long as it is caught early on, and just like Ich, Marine Velvet is highly contagious to other fish in your aquarium.

Hole in the Head Disease

Hole in the Head Disease is also known as Head and Lateral Line Erosion Disease or HLLE. This disease can affect fish that are being kept in poor conditions. It makes the skin of the fish appear to be rotting and flaking away. Fish can recover from this illness, but it does cause permanent scarring.

Monogenetic flukes

Monogenetic flukes are parasites that live on the skin and the gills of the fish. They have an appearance of flaky skin. If caught early on, it can be treated, but it is difficult to treat as it involves the use of copper in your aquarium, and some species of fish are sensitive to it.


Lymphocystis is a viral infection that shows up as little cauliflower shaped spots on the mouth or skin of the fish. These are typically not harmful and will come and go. It is not an issue unless it is preventing the Queen Angelfish from getting proper nutrition. Regular water changes, and making sure that their water parameters remain correct as well as feeding them the correct diet should help their immune system kick in.

Nutritional Blindness

Nutritional Blindness is an ailment that can affect Queen Angelfish at around 6 to 8 months of age. It is caused by inappropriate amounts of protein from meaty foods. To avoid this, you should feed your juvenile Queen Angelfish lots of green veggies to make sure that they get enough vitamin A. Having living rock that provides them with plenty of algae to graze on will help prevent this as well.

It is better to prevent illness from happening than it is to try and correct it once it pops up. Due diligence is needed to make sure that your Queen Angelfish are happy. You can ensure that their water is clean by performing regular water checks, and you can prevent illness from entering their aquarium from outside sources by quarantining anything new you plan on placing into your aquarium for at least 2 weeks.

Queen Angelfish Tank Mates

Queen Angelfish are territorial and aggressive. They do not do well in community setups unless certain conditions are being met for them. It is said that they should be the last fish that is added to your community setup so that they do not claim a territory as fiercely. Examples of good tank mates for Queen Angelfish would be other fish that are similar in care requirements, and can stand up to an aggressive Angelfish if needed like Triggerfish, Damsels, Eels, and Groupers.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates for Queen Angelfish

Queen Angelfish do not do well with other species of Angelfish or even other fish of the same species. The males are particularly aggressive towards one another. The requirements to keep a single Queen Angelfish are rather difficult to achieve, and most owners do not have enough room to keep more than one. If you do have enough space to keep a community tank with Queen Angelfish and other species. Queen Angelfish do well with Groupers, Eels, Damsels, and Triggerfish. These species are all roughly the same temperament and requirements to Queen Angelfish and could do well together if kept in the appropriate setup.

Where Can I Find Queen Angelfish For Sale?

If you are looking to purchase Queen Angelfish for your home aquarium, you can purchase them online for $250. The price depends on their size. Make sure that you are purchasing your Queen Angelfish from a reputable source to ensure that you are getting a quality fish that is free from ailments.

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