What can be more eye-catching than a bright yellow fish? Maybe a bright yellow fish with blue highlights! The lemonpeel angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus) is one of the most eye-catching members of the pygmy angelfish genus. Unfortunately, the lemonpeel angelfish does not do well in every captive situation.
Difficulty: The lemonpeel angelfish does best when housed in either a reef aquarium or an aquarium with a rich crop of hair algae. The lemonpeel angelfish may be reluctant to accept introduced foods initially, but once it has acclimated to a new home, it often accepts a variety of frozen foods (i.e., seafood shavings, mysid shrimp, fish eggs, preparations for herbivores). Make sure to include some greens in the diet of the lemonpeel angelfish.
Physical description: The color of the lemonpeel angelfish can vary from one location to the next. Most lemonpeel angelfish are bright yellow, but in some areas (habitats), it can be a rich orangish-yellow. They all have blue trim on the gill cover and blue “eyeliner.” Juvenile lemonpeel angelfish also have a blue-bordered eye spot right in the middle of the body. The lemonpeel angelfish is one of the larger pygmy angelfish, reaching a length of 5.5 inches. The most similar pygmy is Herald’s angelfish (Centropyge heraldi), which is yellow with no blue markings (there is also a color form that has a black saddle that was considered a distinct species referred to as C. woodheadi). Over certain parts of its range, the lemonpeel angelfish hybridizes with other pygmy angelfishes, including Eibl’s angelfish (C. eibli) and the halfblack angelfish (C. vroliki). These hybrid fish sometimes enter the aquarium trade. The color of these mutt angelfish can be more lemonpeel, more like the other parent or somewhere in between.
Range: The lemonpeel angelfish is known from Christmas Island in the east Indian Ocean, east to the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific. The lemonpeel angelfish is usually found at shallow depths (less than 3 to 80 feet of water) on lagoon patch reefs, reef faces and slopes. The lemonpeel angelfish is found in areas with rich coral growth, as well as rubble bottoms. The lemonpeel angelfish is haremic, with the male lemonpeel angelfish defending a territory that includes up to three female lemonpeel angelfish. In nature, the lemonpeel angelfish feeds on detritus and algae.
Compatibility: The lemonpeel angelfish is not the most congenial of neighbors. While the lemonpeel angelfish is usually well-behaved in large aquariums (100 gallons or more), it can assert its dominance over more placid fish when shelter sites and space are limited. Species that are most likely to be picked on include small Chrysiptera damselfish, flasher wrasses, fairy wrasses, gobies and dartfish. The lemonpeel angelfish can be kept with all these species in a larger aquarium, but it should be added to any aquarium after these more docile fish have adjusted. The lemonpeel angelfish will also fight with other Centropyge species, and since it is a bit heftier than most others in the genus, it tends to be dominant. If housed with larger angelfish, surgeonfish and triggerfish, it may be a good idea to add the lemonpeel angelfish before these fish and let it settle in before introducing the big, bad boys. The lemonpeel angelfish will often do best in a reef aquarium. However, it is a known coral-nipper. The lemonpeel angelfish has been implicated in “attacks” on large-polyped stony corals and tridacnid clam mantles.
Aquarium conditions: An adult lemonpeel angelfish can be kept in aquariums as small as 30 gallons, but aggression issues are much more likely in aquariums this small. Keep the water parameters for the lemonpeel angelfish as follows: pH of 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity of 1.019 to 1.025 and a water temperature of 74 to 82.
Care considerations: The key to keeping the lemonpeel angelfish long-term is to find a healthy fish to begin with and then provide it with a varied diet that includes plant material. Individual lemonpeel angelfish from Australia or Micronesia are often in better shape when they arrive at your local fish aquarium stores.
Breeding: The lemonpeel angelfish has been known to spawn in the home aquarium. The lemonpeel angelfish is a protogynous hermaphrodite. During courtship, which usually occurs when light levels are lowered, the female lemonpeel angelfish becomes pale. The lemonpeel angelfish pair rises toward the surface of the aquarium and releases pelagic eggs.