Pygmy Angelfish

Pygmy Angelfish

The Pygmy Angelfish, also known as the Cherub Angelfish, or Dwarf Angelfish belongs to the genus Pomacanthidae. They have brilliant blue and orange coloration that stand out among other saltwater tank mates.

They are peaceful and non-threatening towards other fish the same size as them. However, cherub angels usually manage to sort it out among themselves if three or more Pygmies are introduced to a tank all at once.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about caring for a Pygmy Angelfish in your home aquarium including, tank setup, proper diet, lifespan, size, and much more!


Scientific NameCentropyge
Common NamesCherubfish, Pygmy Angelfish, Atlantic Pygmy Angel
FamilyPomacanthidae(Marine algae)
Origindeeper waters of the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Bahamas, and the Caribbean
Minimum Tank Size30 Gallons
size3 inches
Ease of CareModerate
pH8.1 – 8.4 
Temperature72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
Life span5 years, maybe longer
CostAbout 50$
Pygmy Angelfish Characteristics

Pygmy Angelfish Origins & Habitat 

pygmy angelfish
Pygmy Angelfish Origins & Habitat

The Atlantic pygmy angelfish was first identified in 1951 by Woods and Kanazawa. The scientific name for a Cherubfish pygmy is Centropyge argue.

This fish can be found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Western Atlantic as well as in the Bahamas, Caribbean, Florida, and French Guiana. They can be found at a range of depths in the wild, from 16 to 148 feet (5 to 45 m).

What Are the Features of Pygmy Angelfish?

cherub angelfish
The Features of Pygmy Angelfish

Physical Appearance

Pygmy angelfish is a small fish with an oval, deep body and a short, blunt snout.

Also, it has a long, sharp spine at the angle of the preoperculum, which has serrated vertical edges.


This angel’s coloring is a bright blue to deep blue. The head and chest are an orangish-yellow color, which may vary in tone depending on where the fish was captured.

Some may have just a bit of yellow on the snout and hints in the chin area. The pectoral fins are pale yellow, with the exception of the outer edges, which are trimmed in a bright blue. Also, a thin blue line surrounds the eye.


The average length of pygmy angelfish is 3 inches (8 cm). However, their size is still determined by their diet selection or whether aquarium keepers have overfed or underfed them.

Is Pygmy Angelfish Hardy?

Pygmy angels are generally hardy fish and can live for several years if properly cared for. This is why they can be a great choice for beginner saltwater aquarium hobbyists.

How to Care for Pygmy Angelfish?

Centropyge argi
The Care Level for Dwarf Angelfish

a. Water Requirements

1. Water change

Although water chemistry isn’t particularly important to Pygmy Angelfish, you should clean the tank at least once a week.

Remove uneaten food and waste by vacuuming the gravel every other day. Also, do a 25% water change every two weeks to keep the tank clean and the fish healthy.

Uneaten food allows ammonia spikes and nitrate levels to build up in the aquarium, which can be detrimental to your fish. An aquarium filter may help keep the water clean and remove waste.

2. pH Level

Unfortunately, most novice fish keepers are not aware of how important the pH level is to their fish. Fluctuations in pH can be deadly to your fish, so it’s important to maintain a stable level.

The ideal pH for Pygmy Angelfish is between 8.1 and 8.4. You can test the pH level of your tank water with a test kit, which is available at most pet stores.

3. Water Temperature

Since the Pygmy angelfish are generally found in shallow water near the bottom, They prefer warm waters. So, the ideal temperature range for them is 72°F to 82°F (22°C).

A suitable aquarium heater may be necessary to maintain the proper water temperature, especially if you live in a cooler climate. Also, an aquarium thermostat can help you regulate the water temperature.

b. Tank Setup

1. Size

Despite their small stature, Pygmy Angelfish need a lot of areas to swim and hide. Therefore, we suggest a tank size of no less than 30 gallons.

If you want to keep more than one Pygmy Angelfish, we recommend a larger tank. A 55-gallon tank is a good size for a small group of these fish.

2. Tank Decoration

Hiding places and vegetation are a must for Pygmy Angelfish. They are easily irritated and need plenty of places to hide.

You can provide them with a variety of hiding locations, such as caves and real live rock so they feel secure in their environment. Also, adding some live plants can help create a more naturalistic setting for your fish.

In addition, a FOWLR setup is perfect for them, as there is no coral to kill and they can eat the algae that form on the live rock.

3. Lightening

A 15-hour light period at 1-3 watts per gallon is required to induce spawning. However, to give the impression of dusk in order to help your angels sleep, the light intensity is lowered throughout the final two hours of the day.

Pygmy Angelfish Compatibility

Pygmy Dwarf Angelfish
Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish Compatibility

Pygmy Angelfish are scrappy species, which means they’ll compete with one another and other species to their death. Since many males will almost certainly result in territoriality, I recommend keeping only one male for each tank.

During mating season, male and female pygmy angels can get extremely aggressive, so if you want to breed them, prepare yourself for a deadly fight.

However, providing several swimming areas and huge caves with lots of hiding places might assist decrease their aggressiveness.

Pygmy Angelfish Diet 

Pygmy Angelfish Diet 
Pygmy Angelfish Diet 

The Pygmy Angelfish is an omnivorous angelfish type that requires a balanced diet that includes protein and vegetation.

They will eat marine algae for the majority of their diet, but they also consume prepared angelfish food and frozen meaty proteins like brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp. A nori lettuce clip or spirulina algae can be also a good meal for them.

Moreover, your Pygmy Angelfish will eat live rock between their daily feedings if you have a FOWLR aquascape.

Considering their feeding frequency, you should give them three small meals every day. If you feed them all at once, you’ll wind up with more food waste, so feed them only what they can eat in about three minutes.

Pygmy Angelfish Breeding

Bred in Captivity
Bred in Captivity

Pygmy angelfish have been bred in captivity, but sustaining them is difficult due to their aggressive dispositions toward members of the same species and pygmy angelfish only requires a little amount of larval.

This type of fish is known as a broadcast spawner, which means they produce both eggs and sperm at the same time at dusk by going to the water column and discharging gametes at the top of the tank.

To induce spawning, a tank with a natural lighting schedule that resembles the species’ wild habitat is required.

Larval Development

The eggs are diminutive, measuring 0.7 millimeters in diameter, and take just 20 hours to hatch at 27-28 degrees Celsius.

At this stage, the larvae are thin, translucent, and only have rudimentary organs like eyes, a mouth, a digestive system, and no functional fins.

As the egg matures, the yolk sac deteriorates and the larvae are ready to eat after 4 to 3 days of development.

During the first two weeks of development, under-nourished larvae will show increased blood vessel formation.

At 14 and 25 days after hatching, the larvae begin to compress laterally. They then develop a brilliant silver color and become highly pigmented along the back.

Depending on the species, metamorphosis can take anything from 45 to 50 days. The soft dorsal and anal fins begin to blur at the start of the shifting stage.

The larvae become more docile and erratic as juvenile coloration fades. At this age, they can be moved to a grow-out tank.

Pygmy Angelfish Gender Difference

pygmy angel
Male and Female Pygmy Fish

The most visible indication of gender in Pygmy Angelfish is the size of the male. Aside from their size, there’s no surefire method to determine a male from a female.

At birth, all Pygmy Angelfish are females, and the strongest fish will grow to be males. The alpha male may die or be slain, at which point the next-ranking fish will turn into a male.

Possible Diseases and Prevention

White Spot Disease

Pygmy angelfish, like other saltwater angelfishes, are susceptible to any sickness that arises in captivity, especially if they are disturbed by improper housing or tank mates.

White spot disease Cryptocaryon irritans, also known as Marine Ich, Saltwater Ich, and Crypt is the most prevalent malady affecting marine tangs and angelfish. The primary symptoms of Marine Ick involve constant scratching that leads to lots of white spots.

Marine velvet

The velvet disease, Oodinium ocellatum (also known as Amyloodinium ocellatum or Branchiophilus Maris), is a flagellate that infects fish.

Symptoms of Marine Velvet include:

  • Peppery covering and clamped fins
  • Respiratory distress (breathing rapidly as seen by frequent or rapid gill movements)
  • Eye cloudiness
  • Possible weight loss


Parasites on marine fish kept in aquariums with live rock or in a reef tank are particularly difficult to eradicate.

Copper and formalin solutions, as well as quinine-based medicines, are harmful to other marine species. However, metronidazole and other medicines are effective and safe in the treatment of a variety of protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases.

For external parasites, gradually raise the temperature of your tank to at least 82° F (28° C). This will prevent the parasite from completing its life cycle.

Is Pygmy Angelfish Reef Safe?

Pygmy Angelfish Reef Safe
Pygmy Angelfish Reef

Pygmy angelfish are not considered reef safe as they feed on small invertebrates and sessile tunicates. Also, they may nip at corals and anemones.

Pros And Cons of Pygmy Angelfish


  • They are very beautiful and well-tailored for any saltwater fish.
  • A great option for nano tanks.


  • They are aggressive with tank mates of their own kind, sometimes unwilling to share the same airspace even in tanks that are too small.

Last Words

Pygmy Angelfish are a great addition to any saltwater fish tank. They are very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

However, they are aggressive with tank mates of their own kind, sometimes unwilling to share the same airspace even in tanks that are too small. If you want to take the risk of keeping more than one in a tank, be sure to give them plenty of space to swim and hide.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thanks for reading!