The Rock Beauty Angelfish is a unique and exotic saltwater species that are becoming increasingly popular.
They would have been a staple in saltwater fishkeeping if not for their overly complicated upkeep requirements and a rather expensive price tag of over $150 or more.
The tank requirements for this fish species are relatively steep for starters, with average tank sizes starting at 125 gallons minimum.
It makes them beyond the reach of most beginners or any enthusiasts who may not be willing or ready to invest the upfront capital requirements for the Rock Beauty Angelfish.
But, if you’re willing to put up with their care requirements, you will be rewarded endlessly – or at least for 20 years. The average life span for these stunning species is 20 years or more, and you can get them to live even longer by providing them with quality care.
Check out the detailed Rock Beauty Angelfish care instructions below.
The Holacanthus tricolour goes by several names such as Rock Beauty Angelfish, Corn Sugar, Yellow Nanny, and Rock Beasty – all of which have been inspired by their predominantly black body and striking sapphire blue eyes. Many owners love them because of their exotic appearance, which is mainly black and yellow.
They are found distributed in the Atlantic Ocean, the US coastline, Bermuda, and the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico, inhabiting rocky reefs, rock jetties, and other areas with excessive coral growth.
Juveniles prefer to stay near fire corals and spend much of their time hidden inside shells. They occupy depths of 3 to 90 meters.
This fish species is diurnal. It is active during the day and rests during the night.
The Rock Beauty Angelfish is known to hybridize with the King Angelfish, although some breeders have reported success with hybridizing between Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) and this angelfish.
Adults have an oblong, flat, and deep body, while a Rock Beauty Angelfish juvenile is rounder with a slightly elongated flat shape. Fully grown adults will show off striking trailing filaments on their anal and dorsal fins, as well as on the upper lobe of the tailfin.
Unlike most species from the Holacanthus genus, the Rock Beauty Angelfish is relatively small and only grows to about 8 inches. However, the largest scientifically measured fish in this genus have been measured at 13.8 inches. It is not the norm.
Females will become sexually mature at 3.9 inches, but males are distinctively much larger, around 7 inches. It may help identify them when spawning.
Adults have black accents covering most of their bodies, including the anal and dorsal fins. Their face, tailfin, pectoral fin, and edges are deep yellow.
Also, the edges of their anal and dorsal fins are deep yellow and may contain orange hues. Males will have hints of red spots on their tailfin, and their faces will switch to a darker color during the mating season.
Young fish are entirely yellow, except for a black dot with iridescent blue edges spotted at their bodies’ midpoint. As the fish grow more significant, the black spot spreads and becomes more prominent until it covers most of their body.
One of the most visually striking features of the Rock Beauty Angelfish is their eyes with electrifying blue lines on the upper and lower iris.
Behavior & Temperament
Unlike most species from the Holacanthus genus, the Rock Beauty Angelfish is observed to be somewhat timid. However, they have been known to nip at their tank mates.
Their favorite fish to pick on is the Blue Chromis. This behavior has earned them the classification as ‘semi-aggressive species, but they mostly keep to themselves.
Young Rock Beauty Angelfish have been observed to ‘clean’ the slime off of eels and other fish in the wild by eating it, and they mimic this behavior in captivity by harassing their smaller tank mates.
You can minimize this activity by providing them with a tank that is exclusively centered around the Rock Beauty Angelfish habitat, i.e., by providing them with tank mates they commonly see in the wild.
The most notable saltwater fish species that will appreciate this behavioral characteristic is the eel – it likes having someone clean up after all the excessive slime it regularly generates.
Like most saltwater species, they are known for being aggressive towards conspecifics and their species, so it’s to stick to just one angelfish per tank.
These angelfish need a vast tank to live a comfortable life – at least 125 gallons or more. If the Rock Beauty Angelfish size exceeds 8 inches, prepare to move them to a larger tank with at least 200 gallons of carrying space.
The tank should be mostly horizontal instead of vertical. The large tank must accommodate live rock to support large quantities of naturally growing algae and sponges.
You will also use the livestock to feed the fish while supplementing their diet with flakes and other general saltwater food.
The Rock Beauty Angelfish needs pristine water quality to survive. If you deviate too further away from acceptable water conditions, the fish will be stressed out and may end up feeling sick.
Below are the ideal water conditions you must keep the tank at all times:
- Temperature: 72 to 81 °F
- Specific Gravity: 1.023-1.026 (1.025 is ideal)
- pH Value: 8.1 to 8.3
Stick to the following water chemistry to keep your Rock Beauty Angelfish happy:
- Ammonia: 0
- Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: Less than 1 ppm
- Alkalinity: 8 to 12 dKH
- Calcium: 350 to 420 pm
- Phosphate: Less than 0.2 ppm
- Magnesium: 1150 to 1300 pm
- Iodine: 0.04 to 0.1 pm
- Strontium: 4 to 10 pm
The tank needs to accommodate a large number of live rocks and lots of caves for this fish to hide. These angelfish are known for being timid, which is a bit unusual for species that belong to the Holacanthus genus. Large caves will make them feel protected.
The live rock should provide the fish with plenty of algal grazing opportunities and help them establish their territory.
You can also add saltwater plants to add more visual depth to the tank to regulate the tank’s water quality levels. The right choice is the Halimeda Plant (also known as the ‘money’ plant for its unique-shaped leaves).
It is not advisable to keep the Rock Beauty Angelfish with triggerfish or other angelfish because they will stress each other out. Avoid housing them with stingrays and sharks because these angelfish will nip at them, probably mistaking them for corals.
It is essential to add the Rock Beauty Angelfish to the tank first. They need full reign over the tank until they can settle down and find a spot for themselves. Once they’ve correctly acclimated to their new home, you can start adding more fish to the tank.
Start by adding minor, more docile fish, and closely observe your angelfish behavior. If everything looks good to go, you can start adding bigger, timid fish.
For the most part, good tank mates include the following:
Food & Diet
Feeding Rock Beauty Angelfish is, without question, the most challenging part of keeping them in a home tank. They need a very specialized diet comprised of sponges, more so than most angelfish.
In the wild, these angelfish feed on sponges, algae, Zoantharia, and tunicates. Their beak-like mouth has sharp teeth that help them eat.
Experts recommend filling the tank with plenty of live rock imported from the Western Atlantic. It will encourage the growth of macro-algae that the Rock Beauty Angelfish is accustomed to in the wild.
If suitable food doesn’t grow at a high enough rate in the tank, you can supplement their diet using oysters, mussels, clams, and similar invertebrates. Furthermore, it is recommended to introduce algae-based food in their diet and seafood mixed in with vegetables, e.g., oysters mixed with carrots.
They can also be fed uncooked broccoli, a good source of vitamin A and C. Use meaty preparations sparingly and offer them only as a treat. Rock Beauty Angelfish prefer to eat vegetables and sponge material more so than meat.
Ensure you reach out to your local health food store for sponge and Rock Beauty Angelfish food products. You can also purchase food from specialized saltwater shops for angel formula with sponges.
If you want your stock to retain their vivid colors, you’ll have to keep the Rock Beauty Angelfish diet sufficiently varied and provide them with their daily nutritional intake.
Rock Beauties spends most of their time browsing for food. You can satiate this behavioral trait by providing them with small food servings during the day instead of just one or two large portions every day.
Is your Rock Beauty Angelfish not eating? It may be because they’re too shy or feel stressed in their tank. Try soaking their food in garlic to get their attention.
It should work. However, if your angelfish refuses to eat at all, you should have it evaluated for diseases by an aquatic veterinarian
Rock Beauty Angelfish is characterized as a hermaphrodite species. Most young specimens start as females and can change into males as they mature. Some angelfish will change others will stay the same.
The Holacanthus tricolour will form breeding harems that consist of one male and several females. The harem will be spread out over a large area, at least 84 square meters.
The male will be easily identifiable because it is much larger than the female. They also tend to have larger heads with a beefier bodies.
During courtship, the angelfish pair will slowly swim higher up the tank columns and place their bellies close to each other. Spawning typically takes place during the first evening.
The female will release a staggering 20,000 to 80,000 transparent eggs during each session, and since courtship lasts for several days in a row, the total number of eggs will exceed 10 million.
In the wild, these eggs will be swept away by ocean currents and will hatch within 20 hours. The emerging Rock Beauty Angelfish fries do not have functional fins, guts, or eyes yet.
They will absorb their egg yolk sac for the first two days and develop into a functional larva. Once their egg yolk sac is entirely devoured, they are ready to eat plankton.
You will have to provide them with sufficient nutrition to increase their chances of survival. They will reach a size of almost an inch after four weeks, during which time they’ll settle near the tank’s bottom.
Most tank owners won’t provide a pair of Rock Beauty Angelfish with the necessary habitat they need to initiate courtship for the most part. This task is best left to commercial fish farms.
Rock Beauty Angelfish Care: Dangers and Diseases
Although they’ve got well-developed immune systems, there are a few common issues that the Rock Beauty Angelfish faces.
The most frequent of these is the appearance of red sores on their body and unusual behavior. You can treat this with Furan medications such as Nitrofurazone.
It is essential to separate the Rock Beauty Angelfish from the main tank to administer treatment. Make sure to change the quarantine tank’s water levels regularly. Do not feed your angelfish during this time.
Rock Beauty Angelfish is also susceptible to typical saltwater diseases. You can lower the instances of illness by providing them with ideal tank conditions, lots of spaces to hide, and a varied diet that meets their nutritional requirements.
Regular feeding will prevent illness. As a general rule of thumb, calm behavior is indicative of a robust immune system that can ward off diseases.
One prevalent disease is known as Saltwater Ich or Crypt, and it is primarily associated with angelfish. Symptoms include constant scratching and developing lots of white spots.
The white dots may disappear for a few days only to reappear with more ferocity. The disease attacks the fish’s gills and will eventually suffocate them. You’ll have to treat the condition as soon as you spot it.
Monogenetic flues are a common parasitic infection that primarily affects angelfish.
The parasites are difficult to remove and often require formalin and copper solutions, which are harmful to most marine creatures. Drugs like metronidazole may safely treat bacterial diseases by preventing the growth of bacteria.
Can kill off external parasites, gradually increasing the aquarium’s temperature to at least 83 °F. Combine this with medicated food, and you should be able to provide relief to your angelfish.
If problems persist, you’ll have to take your Rock Beauty Angelfish to a specialist aquatic vet for treatment.
Are these Reef Safe?
Rock Beauty Angelfish are not reef safe because they are fond of nipping at corals. However, they should leave ornamental invertebrates well enough alone, for the most part. It applies to crabs, snails, and cleaner shrimp.
Where to Buy?
Rock Beauty Angelfish for sale are not readily available because most pet stores don’t have stock. Any known stock will probably get purchased out due to high demand.
You can try online stores and online forums, but this will cost you depending on your location and availability. The average Rock Beauty Angelfish price varies from $45 to $150, but you can expect to pay more depending on the particular vendor.
Adopting Rock Beauty Angelfish is a full-time job. They need a large tank, breeding is almost impossible for most homeowners, and you must provide them with a specialized diet. If you can commit to their above-average care sheets, then, by all means, adopt this visually striking fish.
But if you’re a beginner, you should steer clear of these angelfish and start your journey with easier saltwater breeds such as Clownfish and Basslets.
Once you get familiar with the upkeep requirements for a saltwater tank, you can then decide to graduate to more challenging species like the Rock Beauty Angelfish.
We hope this guide gave you the insight needed to make an informed decision about adopting these species. Like most guides, the information here will be updated to reflect Rock Beauty Angelfish care’s latest trends.
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