Cream Angelfish

Cream Angelfish

When most people think of angels, they think of the delicate creatures with white wings that flutter around in the sky.

These are usually the cherubs or guardian angels often seen in paintings and other artwork. But there is another kind of angel, one that is more often found in tropical waters than in heaven.

These are the cream angelfish, beautiful fish with a pale body and bright orange fins. Although they may not have divine powers, these angels of the sea are sure to bring a touch of beauty to any aquarium.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about cream angelfish, including their habitat, diet, and behavior.


Scientific NameApolemichthys xanthurus
SpeciesA. xanthurus
Common NameCream Angelfish, Cream Angel, Xanthurus Cream Angel, Indian Yellowtail Angelfish, Yellowtail Black Angelfish, Yellowtail Angelfish
Care LevelEasy
Aquarist Experience LevelAdvanced
Size5.9 inches
ColorBlack, Yellow
LifespanUp to 10 years
Carbonate HardnessdKH 8 to 12
Specific Gravitysg 1.020-1.025
OriginWestern Indian Ocean
Tank Size75-125 gallons
Tank LevelAll levels
Aquarium TypeDeepwater Reef
Aquarium HardinessHardy when acclimated
Aquarist Experience LevelBeginner
BehaviorHighly Aggressive
Reef Aquarium CompatibilityNot Reef Compatible
Cream Angelfish Characteristics

Cream Angelfish Origin & Habitat

The cream angelfish home is The Indian Ocean, and it spreads from the Mascarenes, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and eastern India’s coast. It has also been discovered in Myanmar, Thailand, and Sulawesi Island.

These angelfish types are commonly found as solitary individuals or in pairs at depths of 5 to 85 meters (16 to 279 ft) on coral and rocky reefs.

History of Cream Angelfish

The British naturalist Edward Turner Bennett (1797–1836) coined the species’ name in 1950 when he formally described Apolemichthys xanthurus as a holotype collected from Sri Lanka.

The specific name xanthurus refers to the yellowtail, also responsible for one of this species’ popular names.

According to genetic analysis, cream Angelfish is related to the A. Griffis of the Western Pacific Ocean and the allopatric A. xanthurus of the Indian Ocean in the Apolemichthys genus.

This species has hybridized with A. trimaculatus, and the resultant hybrids are known as A. Armitage.

Cream Angelfish Conservation Statues

Apolemichthys xanthurus is a popular aquarium fish, and among the marine angelfishes, it is one of the hardiest and simple to maintain in captivity.

Collecting from the wild is restricted; only 100 were allowed to leave the Maldives in 2003. However, they are not considered a threat to the species, which is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Cream Angelfish Features

1. Color


The adult is light gray or brown on the main body, with black-spotted yellow scales from the mid-body to the back, and the scales are white pearl down to the belly.

The top of the head is black to dark brown, with a light nose, brilliant yellow side markings on each temple end, and a bright yellow tail fin.

The upper body is a mottled black and white, and the dorsal and anal fins are dark brown to black with a white to blue fringing along the outer edge.

Also, the pelvic fins are white to yellow, and the pectoral fins are translucent light yellow-white.


The overall body of a juvenile is considerably lighter in color.

They have many rows of color, starting with a yellow nose, then a thick black vertical bar that extends from the forehead to the bottom of the body in a slight crescent form.

From behind the eye to the rear of the body, there is a broad yellow and pearly white scale combination that darkens to golden yellow and gray scales before reaching the dorsal fin region.

The rear of the body, which includes the back half of the dorsal and anal fins, is black with a white border and a brilliant yellow tailfin.

3. Length

The maximum total length of this species is 15 centimeters (5.9 in).

4. Lifespan

this hardy species can live ten years or more when taken care of properly.

Cream Angelfish Cost

Sri Lankan are the most common location for collecting Xanthurus Cream Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthurus).

They are accessible to tropical fishkeepers from fish stores, importers, online auction sites, and internet retailers for around $100.00 at approximate purchase sizes ranging from 1-1/2″ to 4″.

Less than 1.5 inches$80.99
1.5 – 2.25 inches$92.99
2.25 – 3.25 inches$105.99
3.25 – 4.25 inches$114.99
4.25 – 5.25 inches$117.99
5.25 – 6.25 inches$123.99
Cream Angelfish Cost

How to Care for Cream Angelfish?

1. Water Parameters

Water Changes

All marine animals require clean water, and the cream angelfish is no exception.

If you have a 5 gallons (378 liters) tank, we recommend performing 20% water changes twice a week.

However, with aquariums greater than 100 gallons, a 30% water change should be done unless the tank is lightly populated and the water quality is excellent.

Note: Xanthurus Cream Angelfish are constant grazers, so don’t remove the algae from the aquarium while changing the water.

Water Temperature

When it comes to water temperature, it’s essential to provide your beautiful angel with the same water temperature it’s used to in the wild.

We recommend a water temperature between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 and 25.6 Celsius).

pH Range

pH level is another essential factor you should consider when keeping a cream angelfish.

Xanthurus Cream Angelfish prefer a pH range of 8.0 to 8.4.

Note: don’t make sudden changes to the pH level, as this can result in your fish getting sick.

Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate

Even though cream angelfish are hardy, they may be harmed by the pollutants in the water.

Ammonia and nitrite must be at zero levels in the aquarium because they are deadly to marine life.

Nitrate levels also should remain low, with around 10 to 20 ppm in all marine aquariums.

Specific gravity

In a cream Angelfish aquarium, the specific gravity should be between 1.020 and 1.025.

Carbonate Hardiness

A level of 8 to 12 dKH is ideal for cream Angelfish.

2. Tank Setup

Tank Size

When kept in a too-small tank, cream angelfish will become overly aggressive toward their kind.

Also, they can be aggressive toward the other species if they try to break into their territory.

So, if you have only one fish, a 75-gallon tank will be ideal. However, when they are kept with other angelfish, you should consider the list below:

  • 100 gal (400 liters): Several small Angelfish (<15cm) can live together.
  • 240 gal (900 liters): Several medium Angelfish (< 20cm) can live together.
  • 400 gal (1500 liters): Several large Angelfish (<25cm) can live together.


Too bright lighting can stress your fish. So, we recommend providing it with moderate light.

Hiding Places

Angelfish spend most of their time looking for food or hiding in the shadows in their natural habitat.

That’s why you should provide them with several hiding places with plenty of live rock set into overhangs, crevices, and hiding spaces for them to feed on and seek refuge in to make your angelfish feel safe.

Is Cream Angelfish Hardy?

Cream angelfish is one of the most easily kept angels from the Apolemichthys genus, as they are moderately hardy.

These species are less prone to stress and shipping problems than their colorful counterparts.

They are initially tentative, but once they’ve gotten used to their new habitat, they become a very long-lived fish that may be recommended to beginner aquarists.

However, the best results are achieved with juvenile fish between 1.5” and 3” (4-7 cm).

Cream Angelfish Diet

The Cream Angelfish is an omnivore. In the wild, they are primarily herbivorous and eat sponge material, tunicates, and some meaty foods.

Although Apolemichthys xanthurus are moderately hardy and one of the easiest Apolemichthys genus to keep, they can be picky eaters and difficult to acclimate.

They should have a varied diet that includes:

  • Spirulina
  • Marine algae
  • Mysis
  • Frozen shrimp
  • A high-quality commercial angelfish preparation
  • Tunicates
  • Small amounts of copepods that found in the rocks.
  • Flake
  • Prepared foods for herbivores
  • Chopped seafood
  • Crustaceans
  • Sponges
  • Worms

We recommend giving them small amounts 2-3 times a day when feeding your fish. This way, you can ensure that your angelfish are getting the nutrition they need without overfeeding them and messing up the tank.

Cream Angelfish Compatibility

The cream Angelfish is a docile fish that flourishes in a peaceful setting.

Due to their “gentle” nature, you can add some of the more peaceful angelfish with your cream angels. However, the tank must be large enough for about 150 gallons (568 liters) or more incredible.

It would help if you also considered some things when choosing the cream angelfish tankmates.

It’s preferable to have a variety of different-sized fish, and different colorations since two of the same size and pattern might be a terrible idea. 

The most aggressive species, of course, should be avoided. However, tankmates like Clownfish and Anthias, regarded as semi-aggressive, are acceptable. Just make sure they don’t bully your angelfish.

The following table summarizes the cream angelfish compatibility in further detail:

Same species – conspecificsMonitorOnly as mated pairs in a tank over 150 gallons (568 liters)
Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses)Safe
Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels)MonitorThey may pick on the Angelfish.
Aggressive (dottybacks, 6-line & 8-line wrasse, damselfish)Threat
Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses)Threat
Mushroom Anemones – CorallimorphsThreat
LPS coralsThreat
Gorgonians, Sea FansThreat
SPS coralsThreat
Leather CoralsThreat
Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals)Threat
Star Polyps, Organ Pipe CoralThreat
Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea MatsThreat
Sponges, TunicatesThreat
Shrimps, Crabs, SnailsSafe
StarfishMonitorMay nip at appendages
Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, FlatwormsThreatMay nip at appendages
Clams, Scallops, OystersThreatMay nip at appendages
Cream Angelfish Compatibility Table

Is Cream Angelfish Reef Safe?

The Xanthurus Cream Angel is not suggested for a reef aquarium since it has been observed to nip and pick at hard and soft corals and inverts like clams.

However, some owners have had success keeping Xanthurus Cream Angels in reef tanks. 

Still, the success of one in a reef tank is mainly dependent on the individual personality of each fish.

They will bite at stony corals, clam mantles, and sessile invertebrates. Also, giant crabs, shrimps, and snails are typically harmless, but tiny shrimp and all other varieties of corals will be consumed.

Juvenile Cream Angelfish will also consume Xenia, Anthelia, other soft polyp corals, rocky corals, and zoanthids.

Cream Angelfish Breeding

Except for males being larger than females of the same age, Xanthurus Cream Angelfish are hermaphroditic and have no distinguishing features that differentiate males from females.

When the male and female are ready to mate, they will do a “dance” where they swim around each other.

The male will swim above the female, tilt his body with extended fins, and await a response from the female. 

When she is ready, the female will swim towards the area that the male has designated as their spawning site. 

The pair will swim higher up into the water column as the male nuzzles the female’s belly until both simultaneously release their gametes into the water column for fertilization.

Then, the pair will swim down to their selected site and lay a sticky mass of about 2,000 – 3,000 eggs on a flat substrate.

Note: these species have not yet been bred in the aquarium, nor has it been cultivated in any laboratory.

Cream Angelfish Diseases & Prevention

If you didn’t provide your cream angels with a good environment, they could be susceptible to a variety of bacterial, parasitic, viral & reef infections, including:

Cotton Wool Disease

The cotton wool disease is characterized by a translucent layer that eats into the skin and grows.

Vibrio Bacterial Infection

Vibriosis is a bacterial infection caused by Vibrio bacteria. Dropsy, Popeye, bleeding, or red streaks on the skin are all signs of vibriosis.

Fish Tuberculosis

The most common symptom of fish tapeworm infection is a darkening or swelling of the body, commonly known as “fish T.B.” It can also produce blood streaks and blood flecks in any part of the body.

Crypt / White Spot Diseases / Marine Ich / Saltwater Ich

Cryptosporidiosis is the most prevalent disease affecting both marine and freshwater fish.

Symptoms of this disease are constant scratching, culminating with lots of white dots.

After a few days, the dots vanish and then return with twice the quantity.

The parasites block the gills from providing oxygen, causing the fish to suffocate due to restricted ventilation.

Velvet Disease

Another frequent disease is Marine Velvet, or Oodinium ocellatum (syn: Branchiophilus Maris).

Symptoms of Marine Velvet are:

  • A peppery coating that gives a yellow to light brown “dust” on the body
  • Clamped fins
  • Respiratory distress (breathing hard as seen as frequent or quick gill movements)
  • Cloudiness of eyes
  • Glancing off decor or substrate
  • Possible weight loss.


Lymphocystis, a viral infection, has cauliflower-shaped nodules on the fins and mouth. 

These nodules aren’t harmful and appear and disappear over time. However, if they were on the fish’s mouth region, preventing it from feeding for an extended period, you should take action.

Monogenetic Flukes

Monogenetic flukes are the most frequent parasitic illnesses that angelfish suffer from.

Parasites on marine fish kept in a live rock or reef environment may be tough to cure.


To avoid illness, offer your angelfish clean water, a suitable décor with hiding areas, and frequent feeding.

Also, offer green leafy foods with Vitamin A and make sure there are plenty of naturally occurring algae in the tank to avoid nutritional blindness in angelfish, which can happen between 6 and 8 months after being taken captive.

Although parasitic diseases have long been known to harm other marine creatures, most conventional treatments such as copper and formalin solutions and quinine-based medications are harmful.

However, metronidazole is a powerful and safe medication for several protozoa and anaerobic bacterial infections.

Metronidazole inhibits the growth of bacteria and protozoa. This medicine is reef safe, and it’s either put in the water or used as a component of the fish meal.

You can also control the external parasites by raising the temperature of your aquarium to at least 82° F (28° C). This will prevent the parasite from completing its lifecycle, including a fish attachment.

Last Words

With the right environment and care, your cream angelfish will remain healthy and thrive in your aquarium for a long time.

However, if you notice any of the diseases or parasites listed above on your fish, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a veterinarian specializing in marine fish.

We hope that this guideline has provided you with the information to keep your cream angelfish healthy and happy!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.