The Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissima) is a stunning and rare angelfish that is only found in the waters of South Africa. At one time, this fish was considered to be a variant of another Centropyge angel, the Bicolor Angelfish, but it has since been established as its own species. The Lemonpeel can be distinguished from other C. loricula by its larger size; lack of white markings on their dorsal fin and yellow body compared to the orange/red/gold.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Characteristics:
Scientific Name: Centropyge flavissima
Common Names: Lemonpeel Angel, Peacock Angelfish
Max. length: 7-8 inch TL (~18 cm)
Natural Environment: Rocky Reefs from Point Dume to Point Panic in Natal, South Africa and also off of Mahe and Silhouette Islands in the Seychelles. Found at depths up to 150 feet (45 meters). Juveniles inhabit areas with soft corals or gorgonians that provide protection or crevices.
The Lemonpeel Angelfish has a golden yellow body with red fins and blue highlights on its head and dorsal fin. Juveniles are lighter colored than adults, with less intense colors and dark eyespots on their dorsal and anal fins.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Origin:
Other common names this species is known by are the Peacock Angelfish and Lemonpeel Angel, but it is actually not a true “angelfish”. This fish belongs to the Family Pomacanthidae, which also includes damsels and tangs. It was first described as Centropyge loricula (Cuvier 1831) and later moved into its own genus in 1967 when that name became invalid because its type specimen was missing or incorrectly labeled. The generic name of “Acanthoclinus” was suggested for this species but never widely used. Currently there are no recognized subspecies or geographical variants of C. flavissima.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Size:
The maximum size of this fish is believed to be around 8 inches (18 cm) in length. However, there are reports of these angelfish reaching 12 inches (30 cm), but it is unclear how accurate this information is since they are difficult to obtain and rarely exported commercially; most that are sold are between 4-6 inches (10-15 cm).
Adults typically reach around 4-5 inches (~10cm) total length with occasional specimens reaching 7″ (17 cm). Juveniles are hardy and will “grow on you”, making them one of the more popular aquarium species; they can easily reach their full adult coloration in as little as 3 months. Because females are larger, it is difficult to determine if they are male or female.
Lemonpeel Angelfish PH:
The natural habitat of the Lemonpeel Angelfish is between 8.1-8.4 – ideally 7.9-8.2, although they can adapt to more alkaline conditions between 8.5-9.0 with the proper precautions being taken (i.e., frequent water changes). Some have suggested keeping these fish at even lower pH values in the 6.8-7.0 range by using live rock rubble and crushed coral substrate which releases acidic compounds into the water column; however, this needs to be done carefully since too much acidity can cause health problems including holes in their head!
You will also need to keep them in an established tank since their acidic water requirements are difficult to maintain in a newly setup aquarium. The use of driftwood, mangrove or other botanical materials can help mimic this environment.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Colors and Markings:
The orange/gold coloration on the body is very similar between juveniles and adults; normally yellow colored fish are brownish when young but this species does not seem to follow the same pattern. There is no sexual dimorphism with this species so it should be relatively easy to determine male from female once they reach adulthood.
Juveniles should be closely monitored for color changes that may indicate poor water quality or disease – these fish are sensitive to sudden shifts in pH, especially when acclimating them to a new aquarium.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Aquarium:
As with most angelfish species, you will need at least a 55 gallon (208 liter) or larger aquarium for two adult specimens; they will not thrive in lesser-sized tanks and grow stunted if kept in anything smaller than 50 gallons (190 liters).
While juveniles can be housed in a juvenile only tank; adults require lots of open space and live rock work to provide both hiding places and swimming room. A sandy substrate is recommended along with several rock caves and overhangs where the angelfish can rest within the structure to reduce aggression between individuals due to territoriality. Lighting should be moderate with enough brightness for the fish to graze upon the live rock without burning their eyes.
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Lemonpeel Angelfish Tankmates:
These fish are peaceful, despite their reputation for aggression in captivity; they will generally leave other large angelfish alone but may pick on smaller species of damselfish or gobies.
They can also be “crowd bullies” and harass more mild-mannered fish so it is best to avoid mixing them with slow moving tank mates that can’t swim away quickly enough to escape an aggressive Lemonpeel’s behavior (i.e., Northern Butterflyfish).
They tolerate mated pairs of their own kind well but should not be kept with other Centropyge angelfish due to possible crossbreeding if introduced at the same time.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Care:
Because this species is susceptible to the angelic ich (Lymphocystis) parasite, it should be quarantined for several months before being introduced into your main display; if you purchase two specimens at the same time, keep only one in quarantine and watch for signs of infection before adding it to your main tank.
Another concern with these fish is that they are prone to hole-in-head disease (Hexamita spp.) which can be identified by small, “pinprick” like holes appearing along their lateral line; take a sample of the affected area’s tissue to your local aquarium store for further assistance – treatment can involve copper based medications and is usually effective if caught early.
Feed the Lemonpeel Angelfish a diet of meaty and vitamin-enriched frozen brine and mysis shrimps along with preparations for herbivores that provide algae or spirulina based foods; they will also enjoy fresh vegetables such as green beans, zucchini and nori (dried seaweed sheets) but should not be depended upon as a primary food source.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Lifespan:
The typical lifespan of these fish in an aquarium is five years; however, larger specimens have been known to live up to ten years – most specimens kept in captivity are wild collected so their age can only be estimated at best.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Diet and Feeding:
Wild caught specimens of this angelfish are generally herbivores but will also feed on small invertebrates in their natural habitat; they can be trained to accept meatier food items in the home aquarium with time, patience and perseverance.
They are considered difficult to feed due to their picky habits but typically respond well to live or frozen mysis shrimp, finely chopped fresh marine algae (nori sheets), vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, nori seaweed sheets, spirulina flakes or pellets along with any preparations for herbivores that contain spirulina or algae as primary ingredients.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Differences:
As stated earlier this fish is very similar to both the Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) and the Flameback Angelfish (Centropyge acanthops); however, there are subtle differences between them.
Most notably, the Lemonpeel has a slightly larger head than either of the other two species; it also has longer pelvic fins that reach almost to its anal fin while their counterparts do not. The tail fin is rounded at the end in this angelfish as opposed to pointed like that of the others.
Lastly, this breed has more yellow on its dorsal fin than either of them do – its body coloration can be quite variable though so this difference may not always be readily apparent.
Lemonpeel Angelfish Breeding:
The Lemonpeel Angelfish can be bred in captivity, but is not easy to do so; it’s recommended that you purchase larger specimens (1.5″) if attempting successful breeding is your goal.
Mated pairs should be introduced into a fully cycled aquarium with live rock for them to claim as their territory; the female will lay her eggs on the rock and both parents will either defend or eat them depending on their own moods – it’s best to remove the parents after spawning has occurred for the sake of the fry which take several months before they become free swimming.
The Lemonpeel angelfish is moderately difficult to keep due to its specific diet requirements; however, this fish does have plenty of personality and can make a wonderful addition to larger marine aquariums that have plenty of rockwork for it to claim as its own territory.