Ok, so you have your epic SPS (small polyp stony) display ready with an awesome montipora (monti) garden, and now you are ready to add some fish to complete that mini-ocean look.
Angelfish are one of the most popular aquarium fish because of their dazzling array of colors and patterns, however, they are not the easiest fish to care for, and some species are known to obliterate corals overnight. This may make you wonder, do angelfish eat montipora?
Do Angelfish Eat SPS Corals?
Angelfish are omnivores, and therefore they usually eat algae and small invertebrates. Angelfish are typically attracted to the mucus that your coral produces, not the body of your coral, however, when fish nibble on the mucus, that is enough irritation for your montipora coral to withdraw its polyps. If this irritation continues for a long time, your monti will slowly deteriorate, and potentially die.
The good news is, angelfish are most likely to pick on LPS (large polyp stony) corals, brain corals, acans, and zoas, so your SPS corals should be fine.
However, even angelfish considered reef-safe can be unpredictable, so if your montipora becomes irritated by your angelfish, consider removing them, as some angelfish are known to wipe out corals overnight.
How To Know If My Angelfish Is A Problem?
Even though montipora corals are considered hardy SPS corals, they will not tolerate being heavily disturbed. Your montis small polyps can look like a tasty treat for some angelfish, and if your angelfish starts tugging on your montis polyps, it will cause your montipora to retract its polyps.
When your montipora coral closes its polyps during the day, take a look late at night and see if they open their polyps then. If it does, one of your sleeping fish is likely nipping at them during the day. Even though polyp extension is affected when angelfish nip at your montis polyps, there is no clear evidence that this harms your coral’s growth or coloration.
But, in all seriousness, if your angelfish continues to cause issues inside your reef aquarium, you need to consider if you prefer to have good coral polyp extension or a beautiful fish display.
What Do Angelfish Eat?
In the wild, angelfish typically feed on worms, algae, and small crustaceans, so if you have a crab or algae issue, then angelfish will be your best friend!
In aquariums, you should feed your angelfish tropical flakes, granules, and shrimp pellets, so they thrive and are not tempted to take nips out of your corals. You can also feed angelfish, frozen or dried bloodworms, shrimp, and mealworms as a meaty treat!
Adult angelfish should be fed 2-3 times a day, and juveniles 3-4 times per day. It is important to remove any uneaten food to prevent any spikes in your nitrogen and phosphate levels. Elevated nitrate and phosphate levels are toxic to your fish and corals.
Angelfish That Are Considered Reef-Safe
Every fish has its own personality, so you will never know how it behaves until you place it into your aquarium, however, the following angelfish are considered safe to add to coral reef tanks.
- Swallowtail Angelfish
- Coral Beauty Angelfish
- Fisher’s Angelfish
- Potter’s Angelfish
- Pearlback Angelfish
- Cherub Angelfish
- Lemonpeel Angelfish
- Flame Angelfish
- Orangelined/Eibl’s Angelfish
- Masked Angelfish
How Many Angelfish Can I Add To My Aquarium?
This depends on the size of your reef tank. Angelfish should be kept in pairs because they are schooling fish. Keeping them paired up gives them a feeling of comfort and relaxation inside your aquarium.
A good rule of thumb is to add one angelfish per 10-gallons of water, so two angelfish should be kept in a tank no smaller than 20-gallons. However, if you have a nano reef tank, dwarf angelfish species will be fine.
Good Tank-Mates For Montipora Corals
Even though montipora corals can be kept with all reef-safe fish, including angelfish, they can easily be picked on, therefore, it is always best to go with fish that are guaranteed to live in harmony with your monti.
Perfect tank inhabitants include:
How To Prevent Angelfish Picking On Montipora?
If you are worried about your angelfish disturbing your montipora corals, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Keep food available at all times with a varied diet.
- Place dried macroalgae on exposed rocks or clip them to the side of the aquarium. Not only does this create the perfect grazing and picking spot for your angelfish, but adding macroalgae to reef tanks also helps remove excess nutrients in the water such as phosphates and nitrates.
- Correctly introduce your angelfish. Introducing smaller angelfish and making them accustomed to fish food straight away is key. Angelfish also learn from each other. For example, if you have one angelfish that constantly nips on corals, the others will follow this naughty behavior. The best way is to remove the badly behaved angelfish.
Angelfish make excellent additions to reef tanks by providing vibrant colors and movement, creating the ultimate mini-ocean in your home, however, they can be unpredictable and over time, you will get to know the personality of each fish.
While most angelfish are reef-safe, always keep a close eye on them in case they decide to nip your corals. If your montipora corals are irritated by your angelfish, consider removing them to prevent your coral from becoming stressed or in worse cases dying.