Many people might be surprised to learn that quite a few predators out there enjoy a good Angelfish meal.
Angelfish are commonly eaten by larger fish such as groupers, barracudas, and snappers. In addition, they are also preyed upon by eels, sharks, and dolphins.
While many of these predators are too large and can’t be tankmates with angelfish, others, such as eels and sharks, are sometimes kept as pets by experienced aquarists.
As a result, angelfish owners need to be aware of the potential dangers that their fish may face and take steps to protect them.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most common predators of angelfish and how they hunt their prey.
What Are the Predators for Angelfish?
Larger Fish Species
Larger fish species, such as tuna and barracuda, will prey on angelfish. These predators can easily outcompete the angelfish for food and overpower them. Some examples of large fish species that eat angelfish:
These fish can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh up to 85 pounds. They are common in tropical and subtropical waters and are known to prey on various marine life, including angelfish.
Barracudas have teeth pointed backward, which prevents fish from escaping once their mouths have closed around them.
2. Reef sharks
The method by which reef sharks catch angelfish is more devious than you might imagine.
They herd their quarry into areas where they cannot flee, such as against rock walls. Then, attack and eat the cornered fish.
Reef sharks can grow up to 10 meters long (3+ feet) and weigh up to 70kg or 154lbs.
These predators can be found in both saltwater and freshwater environments. They typically ambush their prey by sneaking up on them before attacking.
Some examples of reptiles that eat angelfish:
1. Green sea turtle
The green sea turtle is one of the largest sea turtle species and can weigh up to 440 pounds.
They are found in tropical and subtropical waters and feed mainly on jellyfish but will also consume angelfish.
Alligators are predatory reptiles that inhabit freshwater swamps, marshes, and lakes in the southeastern United States. They feed on various prey, including small fish, frogs, and angelfish.
Not only do larger fish prey on angelfish but so do mammalian predators.
Mammals typically hunt in groups and use their size and strength to take down prey. Some examples of mammals that eat angelfish:
Dolphins are known to hunt cooperatively, using their speed and agility to herd fish into a position where they can easily be captured. They often prey on angelfish, as well as other small fish.
Humans are not typically thought of as predators, but we certainly are! We often hunt angelfish for food, using various methods, including fishing with nets, spears, and harpoons.
The sky may be an angelfish’s most dangerous point of attack. Many bird species can snatch fish that float too near the surface.
They’re delighted to dive into the water at high speeds and capture fish with their pointed bills for others.
Some examples of birds that eat angelfish:
- Pacific albatrosses
- Indian Ocean albatrosses mantled
- Pacific kingfisher
- Brown booby
- Great frigatebird
- Lesser frigatebird
- Pacific shearwaters
- Sooty tern
- White tern
How Do Angelfish Protect Themselves?
With so many predators, it’s understandable to be concerned about how angelfish survive.
The good news is that angelfish don’t just sit back and wait for death.
They’ve come up with a variety of defensive strategies and tactics, including:
1. Freezing in Place
According to the Journal of Ichthyology, wild angelfish can freeze in place when they detect a threat.
They can also predict how long they should stay immobile before exploding into action and fleeing.
This can be a successful tactic, as many predators will move on if they can’t see their prey.
2. Hiding in Shady Places
Another way that angelfish avoid predators is by hiding in shady places. This could be under a coral reef, seagrass, or rocks. They are much less likely to be seen by predators by doing this.
The thin and flat form of an angelfish may appear to be a disadvantage. In reality, it is quite the opposite in the wild.
Their pancake-like design allows them to slip into cracks and vegetation that their predators would not be able to reach or fit inside. This gives fleeing a strategic advantage.
Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see or by disguising them as something else.
Angelfish use a type of camouflage called background matching. They do this by changing the color of their skin to match their surroundings.
For example, if an angelfish is near a coral reef, it will change its color to look like a reef. This makes it very difficult for predators to spot them.
Here is a youtube guide showing how angelfish change colors.
5. Fighting Back
Angels aren’t big hunters, but they are aggressive. They’ve been observed eating smaller fish and battling among themselves.
Angelfish do not gain an edge against bigger fish, such as barracudas, by fighting.
It does, however, deter equally-sized fish or smaller ones who may choose angelfish as a lunch of opportunity.
Are Angelfish Endangered?
Not all angelfish are in danger, but some are. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains a Red List of Endangered Species. If a species’ population is deemed at risk, the IUCN puts it on the Red List.
Unfortunately, there are four different species of angelfish on the IUCN Red List that have been assessed.
1. Clipperton And Nahacky’s
According to the IUCN, both the Clipperton angelfish and the Nahacky are near threatened.
Despite this, their population expansion rates have remained stable. Both species are impacted by climate change and severe weather.
2. Clarion Angelfish
The Clarion angelfish is on the verge of extinction. It has a high risk of going extinct in the wild. At least for now, their population growth rates have remained constant as those of Clipperton and Nahacky’s.
They are at risk as a result of:
- Climate change
- Severe weather changes
- Excessive fishing
- Harvesting of aquatic resources
Only the Vanderloos angelfish is recognized to be genuinely endangered, with its population on the decline.
Its number has been decreasing gradually for the last 30 years. The Vanderloos is impacted by climate change, and its population is also susceptible to various diseases.
Angelfish face various challenges, from the many predators to global warming’s harmful effects.
From birds in the air to barracudas in the sea, angelfish have evolved various ways to protect themselves and ensure their survival.
We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we did. If you still have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.