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Want an Ideal Reef Angel?

The article concerns the following question – Want an Ideal Reef Angel? While not inexpensive, Genicanthus watanabei is one of the best angelfish to keep in your saltwater, reef aquarium.

Want an Ideal Reef Angel

Genicanthus watanabei, also known as the Blackedged Angelfish or Watanabe’s Lyretail Angelfish, is, in some aquarists’ opinion, the best angelfish for a reef tank. Named for a famous Japanese ichthyologist,G. watanabei is both hardy and long-lived when properly kept. Despite the fact that it is not officially a dwarf angel, G. watanabei remains relatively small (to six inches) and, perhaps best of all, is considered reef-safe. The only real downside to keeping a pair of these beautiful fish is their relatively high cost.

G. watanabeiis indigenous to steep drop-offs along the edges of outer reefs in the tropical Central and Western Pacific. They appreciate strong currents and plenty of swimming room (although there should be sufficient hiding places for them as well). Adult male specimens of G. watanabei are identified by their light blue coloration and eight distinctive, horizontal black stripes.

The females have a similar coloration, although they lack the horizontal stripes. Instead, females have a black bar extending upwards from their eye. Both males and females have a black outline on the edges of their dorsal and anal fins, but only females have a black outline on their caudal fins. G. watanabei, like all members of the genus, is a protogynous hermaphrodite.

G. watanabei readily forms a harem in captivity, but there should only be one male per tank. While individual specimens will be fine, keeping a pair or small group is recommended given their sexual dimorphism and active nature.

Generally peaceful toward other species, G. watanabei may harass other planktavores smaller than it (e.g. flasher wrasses). Triggerfish, larger anthias and large angels may harass G. watanabei, although many aquarists keep them together successfully in a sufficiently large tank (100 gallons or larger).

G. watanabei, especially male specimens whose coloration is more sought after, are not inexpensive. A small female (remember they are protogynous hermaphrodites) under two inches will cost as much as $60, and a medium sized male (between two and three inches in length) may cost as much as $125. While it is generally advisable to purchase a medium-sized fish, a full sized male G. watanabei can generally be obtained for around $250. Adult females, on the other hand, can be readily obtained for under $100.

In short, G. watanabei is an exceptional angelfish for the reef aquarium, especially when kept as a pair or small harem with one male and two or three females.

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