The Angelfish Family- Pomacanthidae
The fish of the Angelfish or Pomacanthidae Family are a group of fish found in shallow reefs in tropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and consist of ninety-one members placed in nine genera. In Mexico, they are known collectively as ángeles. There are seven Angelfish found in Mexican waters, four in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific. Angelfishes have deeply compressed oblong to oval shaped bodies. Their identification is straightforward and normally made by observing their color patterns. Their heads feature a short snout and a small terminal protractile mouth with brush-like teeth and a small eye located high on the head. A long, strong spine is found at the lower corner of the gill cover along with several small spines on the gill cover. They feature a rounded to lunate caudal fin, a single dorsal fin with 9 to 15 strong, stout spines, and relatively large pectoral fins. They range in length from 15 cm (5.9 inches) to 60 cm (24 inches). Their bodies are covered with rough scales.
Most Angelfish are found in the vicinity of coral reefs at depths between 30 and 45 feet. They are brightly colored with complex and varied patterns making them some of the most conspicuous residents of the reef. Several exhibit a dramatic change in color pattern when transitioning from juvenile to adult stages. Most are dependent on the presence of boulders, caves, and coral crevices for shelter and protection. Angelfish are somewhat territorial and spend daylight hours near the bottom of the ocean in search of food. They consume algae, detritus and/or sponges supplemented by a variety of benthic invertebrates. At nighttime they take cover in various hiding places within the reef. Young Angelfish are grazers and consume small organisms including slow-moving algae, coral polyps, hydroids, sponges, tunicates, and worms. They are also known as “cleaners”, which remove parasites from the surfaces of other fish.
Reproduction in Angelfish occurs either with highly territorial mated pairs or in harems with a single male dominant over several females. All Angelfish species are known as protogynous hermaphrodites, such that if the dominant male of a harem is removed, a female will turn into a functional male. Angelfish release many tiny buoyant pelagic eggs which float freely with the currents until hatching. A large number of these eggs fall victim to planktonic feeders.
Angelfish are the second most frequently exported fish by number and the highest in total value in families of aquarium trade fish. Larger Angelfish are occasionally sought for human consumption; however, they are known to contain Cigua Toxin.
There are four members of the Angelfish Family, one from the Atlantic and three from the Pacific, presented in this website: