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Potter Angelfish

Centropyge potter, commonly known as the russet angelfish, Potter’s angelfish, or Potter’s pygmy angelfish, is a marine ray-finned fish belonging to the family Pomacanthidae.

They’re found throughout the Pacific Ocean’s central region, including Johnston Atoll, in the Hawaiian Islands territory.

These little beauties are highly sought after for their vibrant colors and patterns, making them a popular choice among saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.

While they’re not the easiest fish to care for, with proper planning and research, you can create a thriving environment for your russet angelfish.

This article will go through everything you need to know about caring for these magnificent fish.


Scientific NameCentropyge potteri
SpeciesC. potteri
Common NameRusset Angelfish, Potter’s Angel
Care LevelExpert-only
Mature Size4 inches
Lifespan5 years, likely longer
Temperature72°F – 80°F (22°C – 27°C)
pH8.1 – 8.4
Carbonate Hardness(dKH): 8 – 12°
Specific Gravity1.020 – 1.025
Min. Tank Size75 gallons
Tank RegionMiddle to bottom
Reef Aquarium CompatibilityWith Caution
GenderNo differences
Potter Angelfish Characteristics

Potter Angelfish Origin & Habitat

The Potter’s angelfish is found in Hawaii and the Johnston Atoll in the Eastern Central Pacific.

They are rarely seen over sandy stretches or other locations that provide little protection, and they are incredibly reliant on coral caves and fissures for protection.

It can be found in offshore reefs’ coral, rock, and rubble habitats from a depth of 5 m / 16 ft to 138 m / 453 ft.

Only juvenile fish may be found in the higher depths (approximately 5 m / 16 ft).

Adult specimens, on the other hand, dwell at least 10 m / 33 ft. deep.

History of Potter Angelfish

The American ichthyologists David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) and Charles William Metz (1889-1975) formally described Matara Centropyge potter in 1912 from specimens collected from the type locality of Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii.

The species’ name pays homage to Frederick A. Potter, the aquarium’s first director, who served from 1904 until he died in 1940.

These angelfish types are sometimes placed in the subgenus Centropyge.

Potter Angelfish Behavior

This species is a day-active pair or group of one male and several females.

They prefer clear water and are frequently found under ledges or on reef slopes with many holes to hide in.

Potter Angelfish are known to move swiftly from one safe location to the next.

Once they’ve decided on a site, they defend it against other males of the same species.

They are frequently territorial and spend most of their time near the bottom looking for food.

A sex reversal from female to male can be part of the life history. Most significant, brighter males are usually accompanied by smaller, duller females in a harem.

If the male is removed or died, the dominant female changes sex to become the harem master.

Potter Angelfish Features

1. Appearance

This species has a very distinctive spine along the “cheek,” near the edge of the gill cover, which distinguishes it from other angelfishes.

Its slender, disc-shaped form is well-suited to life on a coral reef since it may move in and out of crevices while looking for food or refuge.

They have tiny jaws and many flexible, comb-like teeth for plucking or scraping food off the rocks.

2. Color

The Potter angelfish is a beautiful little dwarf angelfish that hobbyists keep as pets because of its splendid hues. 

The body of the Centropyge potter is a brilliant orange, with thin vertical streaks that are blue to black in hue.

The dorsal, caudal, and anal fins are bright blue, while the pectoral and pelvic fins are orange to brilliant yellow in hue.

The males have a more expansive zone of blue in the middle of the body that reaches down to their bellies.

There is a rare deepwater dark blue color variant with black or purple stripes and black to burgundy stripes that live at depths below 60 meters (200 ft).

3. Length

Potter angelfish is tiny angelfish that measures just over 5 inches in length. Despite its diminutive stature, it thrives well in an established aquarium.

4. Lifespan

The Potter’s angelfish has a lifespan of about five years in captivity.

Potter Angelfish Cost

Small: over 75-1″$139.99
Medium: over 1-2″$149.99
Large: over 2-3″ $159.99
X-Large: over 3-3.5″$169.99
XX-Large: over 3.5″$179.99
Potter Angelfish Cost

How to Care for Potter Angelfish?

1. Water Parameters

Water Changes

Water changes are essential for angelfish to clean their gills and keep them healthy.

So, we recommend changing 10-15% of the water once a week.

Water Temperature

Potter Angelfish are native to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, where the water temperature is around 72°F – 80°F (22°C – 27°C).

So, in your aquarium, you should maintain a water temperature of the same range.

pH Range

When it comes to pH, Potter Angelfish are quite adaptable and can live in a broad range of pH levels.

From our experience, we found that they do best in a pH range of 8.0 – 8.4.

Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate

The ammonia and nitrite are toxic to all fish, and the Potter Angelfish is no different.

Maintaining these levels as close to 0 ppm as possible is vital for their survival in the aquarium.

Having a nitrate level of 40 ppm or less is also essential for the health of your Potter Angelfish.

Specific gravity

The ideal specific gravity is between 1.020 and 1.025.

Carbonate Hardness

The ideal carbonate hardness is between 8 and 12 dKH.

2. Tank setup

Tank Size

Potter Angelfish are active fish that need more space than other angelfish. A 75-gallon tank with plenty of live rock is ideal for a single Potter Angelfish.

If you’re planning to keep more than one Potter Angelfish, we recommend a 125-gallon tank or larger.


Potter angelfish are grazing animals that will benefit from the live rock’s nutritional value.

In their natural habitat, they spend most of their time hiding in crevices and caves feeding on algae and small invertebrates.

So, in your aquarium, you should provide plenty of hiding places for them using live rock or cave-like structures.

Is Potter Angelfish Hardy?

The Potter’s Angelfish are moderately hardy fish when maintained in an optimal environment and fed adequately.

They’re ideal for those in between the novice and expert levels, but even a beginning beginner can enjoy success with this species.

Potter Angelfish Diet

The Potter’s angelfish is an omnivore. In the wild, they primarily eat algae and detritus, and it has also been observed to clean algae off of turtles.

Also, it is an opportunistic and inquisitive fish observed feeding on coral.

So, they will do best when offering a variety of meaty foods and marine algae.

Marine flakes or pellets made from marine algae are also good foods to offer.

Feeding the Potter’s angelfish prepared foods for marine angelfish will also benefit them.

They will also spend most of their time picking at the live rock in the tank, munching on various types of algae, pods, and other tiny creatures that grow in a mature system.

However, if you begin with a tiny or medium angel, you need to provide them with adequate food, such as

  • Spirulina
  • Marine algae
  • High-quality angelfish preparations
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Large chunks of raw meaty frozen shrimp
  • Squid
  • Clam
  • Mussels

Keep in mind that Potter’s angelfish takes some time to get used to their habitat, so don’t worry if your new fish does not eat right away.

So, If you put naturally occurring food in the aquarium, it will make the shift go more smoothly.

Potter Angelfish compatibility

The Potter’s Angelfish is relatively peaceful, as long as it has its territory and is provided with enough room.

Also, keep them with comparable-sized fish; nothing too big or aggressive to consume them, such as larger Lionfish.

We do not recommend keeping two Potter’s angelfish together, which might lead to territorial behaviors and aggressiveness. This is because this fish may be aggressive to other small fish or similar-looking, colored species.

Is Potter Angelfish Reef Safe?

Potter Angelfish is not known for targeting stony corals, but it may target soft corals such as leathers.

When adding this fish to a reef aquarium, use caution and watchful observation since they have been observed nipping at some LPS corals with soft outer tissues (such as donut and brain corals).

In addition, they may bite at SPS corals and certain types of polyp corals, zoanthids, and clam mantles on rare occasions.

However, this hazard may be decreased when the Potter’s angel has added to a mature setup that has numerous kinds of algae for the fish to snack on and consume.

Potter Angelfish Breeding

Like the other members, the Potter’s angelfish is an egg-laying synchronous protogynous hermaphrodite.

They may be found in small social groups with one male and eight females.

The peak season is between December and May when the fish generally nest from dusk until late at night.

A spawning pair will choose a prominent outcropping of rock in its territory to deposit their eggs.

The male begins courting by approaching the female and swimming next to her vertically, using a smooth, curving stroke.

The male rises above the female, halts, raises his dorsal and anal fins, flutters his pectoral fins gently, and makes a little sideways turn before drifting slowly.

If the behavior does not elicit a response, the male will try it again with the sinuous swimming concept, repeating it until he receives a female reply.

When the female shows that she is ready to mate, the male nuzzles her vent for a few seconds until she releases the eggs.

The male fish releases his milt, after which the pair dive for cover. The female chases the male and nips at his caudal fin. After that, they return to their nighttime refuge.

Then, the female will lay between 20,000 and 40,000 eggs on the underside of a coral head or rock outcropping. The eggs are about 1 mm in diameter, transparent, and buoyant.

After hatching, the larvae drift with the plankton for approximately three weeks before settling to the bottom and undergoing metamorphosis into juveniles.

The fry will start to eat algae and other tiny organisms, such as zooplankton.

Potter Angelfish Diseases & Treatment

Marine Ich

The most common ailment seen in Potter’s angelfish is marine ich, also called white spot disease.

This disease is caused by a parasitic dinoflagellate and appears as white spots on the fish’s body. Other symptoms include listlessness and loss of appetite.

If left untreated, marine ich can be fatal.


The best way to prevent marine ich is to quarantine all new fish before adding them to your aquarium.

If your fish does contract marine ich, the best course of treatment is to raise the temperature of the aquarium to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for ten days.

You can also add a parasite-killing medication to the water.

Marine Velvet

Another disease affecting Potter’s angelfish is marine velvet, also called gold dust disease.

This disease is caused by a parasitic dinoflagellate and appears as tiny yellow or orange spots on the fish’s body.


The easiest method to avoid marine velvet is to quarantine all new fish before adding them to your aquarium.

Bacterial Infection

Potter’s angelfish are also susceptible to bacterial infections, particularly when stressed.

Symptoms of a bacterial infection include red or bloody patches on the fish’s body, loss of appetite, and listlessness.


The most straightforward approach to preventing bacterial infection is adding antibiotics to the fish food.

Antibiotics such as tetracycline and erythromycin are effective against most types of bacteria.

Last Words

Potter’s angelfish are beautiful and peaceful fish that makes a great addition to any aquarium.

However, they are also delicate fish that can be susceptible to disease, so you should take good care of them.

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