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Angels of the Sea

First identified and named in 1758, approximately 86 species of marine angelfish live in shallow reefs around the world.

Queen angelfish have distinct electric blue bodies with yellow fins and tail. The fish may even have orange or purple highlights. Queen angelfish acquired their names from their “crowns”– a round black/blue spot on the top of their heads. They can grow reaching up to 18 inches in length and 3.5 pounds. Juvenile queen angelfish are recognized by their yellow color, which turns blue as they age.

Queen angelfish are omnivores, eating mostly sponges and algae. They can be opportunistic and will eat sea fans, soft corals and even jellyfish. Juveniles serve as cleaners for larger species of fish— picking parasites off the skin of larger fish to eat. This relationship gives the juvenile queen angelfish an easy source of food and can benefit the health of the larger fish.

Marine queen angelfish inhabit coral reefs in tropical climates. They can be found in shallows near the shore and in depths of up to 230 feet. The colorful patterns of angelfish developed to provide some camouflage among the corals and plants that live on reefs.

Marine queen angelfish either live alone or in pairs. Because many of the fish do live in pairs, its been theorized that they are monogamous and form long-term bonds with their partner. During reproduction, the pairs will bring their bellies close together and release clouds of sperm and eggs. A female can release as many as 10 million eggs in each spawning cycle. Fertilized eggs will float in the water for 15 to 20 days, then they hatch into larvae with attached yolk sacs for nutrition. Once they use up the yolk sacs, the juvenile feed on plankton. Another 30 days later, the juvenile fish find homes on the bottom of the reef and begin to feed on parasites.

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