Holacanthus ciliaris

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: 17" (45cm)
Tank: 72 inches
Position in tank: Mostly Middle
PH: 8.2 to 8.5
Specific Gravity : 1.020-1.025
Temperature: 25-30°C


Common Name:

Queen Angelfish



Perhaps one off the most sort after Angels for the FOWLR aquarium..



The Queen angelfish lives in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Central Atlantic. In the Western Atlantic, it can be found from Florida, USA down to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. In the Eastern Central Atlantic, it is found around Saint Peter and Saint Paul Islets, an archipelago located roughly 1,000 km from the city of Natal on Brazil's north-eastern coast.



The body is shimmering blue and yellow and there is a large blue spot at the pectoral fin base. Large adults develop a purplish shade of blue and yellow-orange scale rims. The head is greenish yellow below the eyes and dark blue above.



This species is not recommended for novice marine aquarists because it is very sensitive to organic waste and it can be hard to get it to eat in the aquarium. The Queen angelfish is a very lively fish that will spend most of its time out in the open. It is active during the day and rests during the night.

A Queen angelfish will need an aquarium of at least 150 gallons / 575 litres. For a specimen that begins to approach the maximal length for this species, a 200 gallon / 750 litre aquarium is considered a minimum.  

The aquarium where you keep your Queen angel should contain large enough hiding spots as well as ample swimming room. Coral skeletons are known to be appreciated. Include a lot of live rock and encourage natural algae growth.  

The Queen angelfish can be semi-aggressive and it is therefore best to add it as the last fish to the aquarium. It is also important to provide the other fishes with suitable hiding spots to relieve stress. Keeping more than one fish from the genus Holacanthus can lead to a lot of violence, especially if you try to keep more than one male. If you want house Queen angelfish with other angels all specimens should be added simultaneously, but this is not a guarantee for a peaceful aquarium.  

The Queen angelfish will love a prolific reef aquarium, but you should keep in mind that it can nip at soft corals, stony corals and clam mantles. It is actually fond of eating a long row of reef creatures (sponges, feather dusters, hydroids, tunicates, bryozoans etc) and keeping it in a reef environment will make anorexia and malnutrition much less likely. To save the aquarium from being seriously depleted by the angel it is however best to gradually train it to accept other types of food. You can read more about feeding in the feeding section of this article.

Keep the water temperature in the 72-78º F / 22-25.5º C, the pH-value between 8.1 and 8.4, and the specific gravity at 1.020-1.025. Do not get a Queen angelfish until you have a well established and stable aquarium. The amount of nitrate should not be allowed to rise above 10 ppm, and the levels of ammonia and nitrite should be kept at non-detectable levels.



In the wild, the Queen angelfish feeds chiefly on sponges, but it will also ingest a certain amount of algae, plankton, jellyfish, hydroids, tunicates and bryozoans. Young specimens remove skin parasites from larger fish and have a comparatively high degree of algae in their diet.

Getting a Queen angelfish to eat in the aquarium can be tricky since it is used to eating sponges. Providing it with enough sponges is cumbersome (or expensive) and most aquarists are therefore forced to train their queens to accept other types of food. Instead of serving sponges, you can give your fish fresh and frozen meaty foods, e.g. squid, shrimp, and opened shellfish, plus angelfish formula with sponge material. This fish also needs to be served algae on a daily basis, e.g. nori, spirulina, and fresh marine algae. Vegetables such as zucchini, aubergine and spinach are also appreciated.

Feed your Queen angelfish many small portions throughout the day instead of just one or two big meals.

Generally speaking, specimens smaller than 6 inches /  15 cm will be fairly interested in trying new foods, while larger fish can be hard to train onto anything else than live food and naturally occurring algae. If you encounter problems during feeding, subdue the light in the aquarium.

Once a Queen angelfish has acclimatized it to the aquarium and commenced feeding, it becomes very active fish and can even turn into a problem for less assertive fish by out-competing them during feeding time. It is bold and curious and can learn to eat out of your hand.



Breeding the Jaguar Cichlid can be tricky with some pairs of these fish so you may need some patience before you actually get a brood. As juveniles it is virtually impossible to sex the Jaguar Cichlid, males and females all look the same, as the fish mature and reach a size of 4-5 inches, the male will lose his dark stripes and will grow quicker than the female, his markings will turn to darker speckles and his background colour will take on a gold appearance.

To stand any chance of success you must use a separate breeding tank, during the breeding time the Jaguar Cichlid becomes very aggressive and can even attempt to attack its own owner if you decide to place your hand in the tank. The male will show some aggression towards the female so this should be watched carefully, if it becomes too intense it may be necessary to add a divider in the tank until the male calms down, and then try again.

Use sand for the substrate and add some flat rocks to act as potential spawning sites. The female will deposit her eggs on the chosen site after it has been cleaned, expect up to 500 eggs with each batch. The eggs are fertilised immediately by the male and will then guard the spawning site. The female will fan the eggs with oxygenated water and after 2-3 days the eggs should hatch.

Do not attempt to feed the fry at this stage, they will feed from their yolk sacs for a few days and only once these have been consumed should the fry be fed.

Jaguar Cichlid fry will feed on commercial egglayer fry food initially or you can use hard boiled egg yolks, squeezed through muslin, once they grow slightly they will accept newly hatched brine shrimp or crushed flake.

It is quite common for the parents to move the young around the tank, this is an inbuilt reaction from the Jaguar Cichlid hiding their young in the wild from predators. I have had the best success with breeding the Jaguar Cichlid when the tanks are lit naturally and no artificial light is added to distract them