Pygmy Angelfish Care (Cherubfish)

pygmy angelfish - cherubfish

Last updated on July 17th, 2022 at 07:26 am

The pygmy angelfish, also known as the Cherubfish, Cherub Angelfish, Pygmy Dwarf Angelfish, Atlantic pygmy angel, or Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish, is a species of marine fish in the family Pomacanthidae, subfamily Pomacanthinae of order Perciformes. These fish are found in many tropical waters including the Caribbean and off the coast of Belize and Honduras, from Florida to Texas and as far south as Brazil. They are popular aquarium fish because of their unique coloring, small size, and peaceful temperament.

Found in Hawaii, this fish typically inhabits coral reefs at depths of 2-20 meters (6-65 feet). Centropyge argi approximate adult size is 8 centimeters (3 inches), with a lifespan of 3-7 years in captivity with proper care.

Origin and descriptions

The pygmy angelfish (Centropyge argi) originates from the Indo-Pacific region and was first recorded by Achille Valenciennes in 1833. It belongs to the family Pomacanthidae, which also includes the very popular clownfish and coral beauty fish, among others.

Cherubfish are small marine angelfishes belonging to Centropyge genus of fish. The species is found in the central Pacific from Hawaiian Islands to French Polynesia, up to depths of 72m.

They inhabit lagoons and seaward reefs. This species prefers semi-protected areas such as crevices, ledges, rock overhangs, and caves in deep waters close to shore. They are territorial and highly aggressive towards other fishes. They can be kept with other pygmy angelfish but not with larger angels.

The pygmy angelfish can be easily distinguished from other angelfish in its genus by its unique white, inverted V-shaped marking on its face, along with the vertical black stripes that run all the way down to its tail.

The pygmy angelfish is a favorite of saltwater aquarium hobbyists. It originates from Pacific Ocean reefs where it can be found in pairs or small groups that cling to vertical surfaces around 6 to 18 feet deep.

Like most Centropyge angels, they are social fish who prefer to live in a well-established community of similarly sized, non-aggressive tank mates like other Centropyge species.

Species profile

pygmy angelfish - cherubfish

The pygmy angelfish belong to the family Pomacanthidae, which is comprised of 29 species. These fish are also known as Cherubfish or Centropyge argi. They are native to tropical marine waters, living in shallow coral reefs from southern Japan through Indonesia.

Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites Diacanthus / Regal Angelfish)

They grow up to 5 inches long on average, making them one of the smallest members of their genus. Males have an orange-red body with blue lines that run vertically along their sides; females have a white body with blue horizontal lines on their sides. Both sexes have yellow fins with black edges.

This fish has a reputation for being difficult to keep, but it can be done if you follow these simple tips: First, make sure your tank is at least 10 gallons for each adult pygmy angelfish you plan to keep. Second, feed your cherubfish live foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms several times per day. Third, give your cherubfish plenty of hiding places so they feel safe enough to eat regularly.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the pygmy angelfish is Centropyge argi

Common names

Pygmy angelfish are also referred to as Cherubfish, Cherub Angelfish, Pygmy Dwarf Angelfish, Atlantic pygmy angel, or Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish.


A pygmy angelfish’s natural habitat is a clean, well-lit reef tank. These fish naturally live in pairs and are highly territorial, so be sure to house them only with their own kind. They need a lot of open swimming rooms but enjoy having lots of small places to hide from each other. This results in them needing plenty of rocks or caves for shelter.

While they can be kept singly, it’s best to keep two together as they will not get lonely without another fish around. Pygmy angelfish are also very social creatures that like to interact with their owners on a regular basis. As such, you should plan on spending time interacting with your pet every day by feeding it, cleaning its tank, and observing it at least once per day. If you don’t have time for daily interaction, these fish may not be right for you.


The pygmy angelfish is a small fish with an average adult size of about 3 inches (8 cm). In spite of its small size, it can have a large personality!

Paracentropyge Multifasciata (Multibar Angelfish)

Tank size

Due to their large personalities, the minimum recommended tank size is 55 gallons (208.2 liters)

Tank requirements

Like all Centropyge, Cherubfish are highly sensitive to water quality. The most popular size aquarium for pygmy angels is 55 gallons, with a sand substrate, lots of rockwork or coral for hiding places, and tankmates that are either too big to pick on them or will not nip at their tails. Good tankmates include blennies, gobies, and other non-aggressive fish.

A protein skimmer is recommended for smaller tanks because these fish produce a lot of waste. Lighting should be low to moderate; one fluorescent tube per 10 gallons can suffice but LED lighting works well as it won’t heat up your tank as much as other types of bulbs do.

Water temperature should be kept between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to note that, unlike some angelfish species, pygmy angels cannot tolerate high nitrate levels. In fact, they need pristine water conditions in order to thrive in captivity, so frequent water changes are essential. Be sure to use a good dechlorinator when doing water changes.

Feeding is relatively easy; pygmy angels are omnivores and will eat both meaty foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and bloodworms as well as vegetable matters like spirulina flakes, algae wafers, and zucchini slices. They also enjoy live ghost shrimp!

Tank mates

Try to keep a ratio of one male per two females in your pygmy angelfish tank. If you’re keeping multiple males in a single tank, they may fight each other over territory or mates. They can also be kept with non-aggressive species like cardinal tetras, ottos, chromis, and some dwarf cichlids, if you add these fish to your cherubfish tank for at least six weeks before introducing them to your cherubs.


pygmy angelfish - cherubfish

Although they are hardy, pygmy angelfish may become aggressive towards one another during breeding. To avoid fish-on-fish aggression, try to keep a ratio of three females for every male. Place a spawning mop in each female’s tank so that she has a place to deposit her eggs when she is ready. When you notice that she has spawned, move her eggs to your desired rearing tank; otherwise, your other fishes will eat them.

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The fry should be free swimming in around six days. At first, feed them rotifers and brine shrimp nauplii until they are large enough to accept baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flake food. A 75 gallon aquarium would make an ideal home for up to two pairs of these delightful angels. Make sure there are plenty of caves and overhangs for them to hide under.

Their natural habitat provides ample cover in the form of rocks, coral heads, sponges, and plants; use a similar cover when keeping them as pets. They will also appreciate plenty of open space between rockwork or structures where they can swim freely from spot to spot.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Pygmy angelfish are peaceful fish, however, they will show some aggression toward other fish of similar size when kept in smaller tank sizes. It is ideal to keep just one male per tank since they will always fight until one of them is dead. They also won’t last long in a small aquarium because they don’t have enough room to swim around, which will cause them stress.

Pygmy angelfish care

pygmy angelfish - cherubfish

Pygmy angels are very peaceful and can be kept with other species that are small enough not to eat them. Centropyge argi prefers to stay in places where they won’t get sucked into a filter or get caught in rocks, so keep your cherubs away from such aquarium decorations.

These fish are also good jumpers, so an aquarium cover is necessary. If you have live rock in your tank, pygmy angels will find plenty of hiding spots.

They like to swim around all day, so they need lots of room to move around. A minimum of 55 gallons per adult angel is recommended; if you have more than one angel per tank, make sure there’s plenty of space for each one to spread out and claim their own territory.

What they eat

Pygmy angelfish are omnivores, in that they will eat both meaty foods as well as plant matter. In nature, they consume algae, plants, sponges, and other small invertebrates. In captivity, they will readily accept a variety of meaty foods including mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms, cyclopeeze tablets, and wafers.

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pygmy angelfish - cherubfish

The pygmy angelfish will live between 3 and 7 years, with an average of 5 years. They are able to live for as long as 7 years, though it is rare for them to make it that far. When kept in captivity, their lifespan is generally shorter than when they’re wild because of water quality issues or other factors related to captive life.

Parasites and diseases

They are susceptible to many parasitic infestations, including threadworms, anchor worms, roundworms, tapeworms, and flukes. In addition to parasites causing physical discomfort or illness in their hosts, parasitic infections can be damaging to a host’s immune system due to high blood concentrations of immunosuppressants produced by stressed fish that cannot be cleared out of their system.

This stress weakens an already sick fish, making it more vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections. It is important for hobbyists to regularly inspect their tank for signs of disease, such as clamped fins or pale coloration, as well as visible parasites on a fish’s body.

Also, keep an eye out for behavioral changes like lethargy or swimming with difficulty; these could indicate health problems that require treatment from your veterinarian.

Do they make good pets?

Pygmy angelfish make good fish for aquariums, but they don’t make great pets. A healthy pygmy angel can live about five years, which is impressive for a fish its size. When it comes to temperament, these little guys are quite energetic – so much so that many aquarists say they’re not exactly pet material.

They’re also relatively small, which means that an adult will never get larger than 3 inches long. These factors alone make them more of an advanced fish than a beginner-friendly species.