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Rock Beauty Angelfish

(Holacanthus tricolor)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Difficult   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 10"
• Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Caribbean, Western Atlantic
• Family: Pomacanthidae   • Species: Angels (Large)   • Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Rock Beauty Angelfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Rock Beauty is an angelfish species that is found in shallow reef habitats of the tropical western Atlantic. It is found from Georgia to Bermuda and the Bahamas, and from Florida to southeastern Brazil. The Rock Beauty is active during the day where it inhabits rock jetties, reef rubble, and coral reefs to depths of upto 330 feet (100 m). Juveniles reside among fire corals or hide in rock crevices and caves.

Like most angelfish, the Rock Beauty is very territorial, rarely venturing more than a few feet from their protective shelter. It is best to keep this a the only large angelfish species in an aquarium, unless the aquarium is very large and has enough room for multiple angelfish to establish territories. In contrast to other large angelfish, Rock Beauties do not participate in cleaning station activities with either cleaner wrasses or shrimp. While it will aggressively defend its territory against other large angelfish, the Rock Beauty can coexist with most other community fish and invertebrate species.

The Rock Beauty has a discus-shaped body that is easily distinguished from other members of the family by its distinctive black and yellow coloration. The head and tail are bright yellow, with the bulk of the middle part of the body being black in color. The lips, eyes, and margins of the dorsal and anal fins are an iridescent blue and the caudal fin is entirely yellow. The front edge of the anal fin and edge of gill cover are orange, with the upper and lower part of the iris being a bright blue.

The juveniles share the same colors of the adults but not the same pattern, with the juvenile being entirely bright yellow except for a small blue-ringed black spot under the dorsal fin. As the juvenile grows, the black spot increases in size and spreads throughout the body, and the blue ring eventually disappears as the fish matures.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Rock Beauty Angelfish in the home aquarium.

The Rock Beauty does best in large aquariums with lots of live rock to provide it with algal grazing opportunities and territorial needs. Large rock crevices and caves will enable the Rock Beauty to feel protected and give it a much needed territory to patrol. While this species is not overly aggressive, it will fight with other large angelfish and should only be kept with similar angelfish species in a very large aquarium with lots of live rock and terrain.

This species is somewhat difficult to keep in the marine aquarium because of its somewhat specialized feeding needs and the requirement of very high quality water conditions. The Rock Beauty requires a lot of sponge and marine algae in its diet in order to maintain a strong immune system.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Rock Beauty Angelfish.

The diet of the Rock Beauty is the main reason that this species is considered difficult to keep in the home aquarium. Their diet consists of mainly sponges but they have been known to occasionally feed on corals, tunicates, and algae. It is important to provide a quality angelfish preparation that contains lots of sponge, Spirulina and algae for the Rock Beauty to do well and maintain a healthy immune system.

Rock Beauties will also consume live or frozen meaty items, which can make up to approximately 35% of their diet with the rest coming from sponge and marine algae. Plenty of live rock should be provided to allow for algal grazing along with the addition of dried seaweed or other marine vegetation.

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