Bellus Angelfish Spawning


Junior Member
Manhattan Reefs
Rating - 100%
27   0   0
Angelfish Spawning in my Coral Reef Aquarium

When first I set up my 500G aquarium, one of my goals was to keep pairs (or multiples) of fish with the eventual hope of observing their interactions, courtship, and optimistically, spawning behaviors. I have always felt that I was missing out on witnessing some of the most interesting fish behavior, behavior that is often not seen in aquariums because we tend to keep single specimens of fish. We do so in order to minimize aggression and to satisfy our need to keep as many different types of fish as we can in our small aquariums, but I have been slowly gravitating toward a different philosophy in fish keeping --- keeping fewer varieties, but keeping pairs or groups whenever possible. I find this to be a much more rewarding experience as it has allowed me the to watch immature fish evolve into mature male and females often undergoing sex transformation from females to males along with the requisite change in behaviors, associated color, courtship and spawning rituals that are impossible to observe when keeping just a single specimen. Ultimately, the hope is to be able to captive breed and raise some of those fish.

With this intent, I stocked my tank with several pairs and multiples of fish. The current stock list of viable pairs and multiples is as follows;

-A trio of Bellus Angels (2 females and 1 Male) (Genicanthus bellus)
-A pair of Joculator Angels (Centropyge joculator)
-A pair of Long Nose Hawk Fish ) (Oxycirrhites typus)
-A pair of flame hawks (Neocirrhites armatus)
-5 Rolandi Damsels (Chrysiptera rolandi)
-4 Kupang Damsels (Chrysiptera hemicyane)
-1 pair of Black Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
-A pair of royal grammas (Gramma loreto)
-A pair of Orange Back Basslet (Serranus annularis)
-A pair of gobies (Amblyeleotris latifasciata)
-A pair of bangaii cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)
-A pair of black leopard wrasses (Macropharyngodon negrosensis)
-A group of 4 dispar anthias (1M and 3F) (Pseudanthias dispar)

Coral reef fish are interesting in their sex change behaviors. Very few coral reef fish remain the same sex throughout their life span. The term used to describe fish that remain the same sex is gonochoristic. Most coral reef fish will change their sex depending on the environment and social conditions. There are several different patterns for sex-change. Some fish will begin life as males and switch to females. This is called protandry. A good example of this is the clownfish. Others will switch from female to male. This is called protogyny. A lot of fish we keep such as angelfish, wrasses, and anthias, fall into this category. Interestingly, some will change sex in both directions, and some can be both sexes at the same time (Simultaneous Hermaphroditism).

Over the past few weeks, I have been seeing very interesting courtship behavior among several of the fish, and was able to capture the spawning of the Bellus angels and the Joculator angels on video. The Bellus angels were obtained from Live Aquaria as a trio (1 male /2 female) about a year ago. These fish show clear sexual dimorphism ? where the male is differently colored and patterned when compared to the female (see figure #1 and #2). The Joculator angels were obtained through Blue Ribbon Koi as 2 juveniles about 9 months ago. The Joculator (and other Centropyge angels) can be paired easily when young, since the larger one will eventually become the male and the smaller one the female. The Joculators do not show any easily visible sexual dimorphism.

The spawning activity always occurs in the evening ? which I simulate by gradually turning off my metal halide lamps. I use three lights over my tank, and I have each one turning off sequentially at intervals of 30 min. As soon as the second light turns off, the fish go into spawning mode, and within 10-15 minutes spawning will take place. The fish will pretty much spawn every day. The Bellus angel trio displays what is called Polygyny - a single, dominant male reproducing with a group of females (a harem). The male spawns with one female and then with the other one. In the video (bellus1.mpg) the male is spawning with the first female, and a few minutes later with the 2nd female. The Joculators (joculator.mpg) also spawn around the same time, although I have seen them spawn earlier (after the first light turns off).

I am very pleased with my decision to emphasis the keeping of multiple members of the same fish species in my reef system. I intend to keep track of these developments and will report back on any new findings. Until then, enjoy the video.

Last edited by a moderator:


One to Ignore
Rating - 100%
30   0   0
thats great. How long have you had the pair? Where they introduced together? Did you introduce them as a male female pair, or as two females? Have they spawned for you before?


Junior Member
Manhattan Reefs
Rating - 100%
27   0   0
thats great. How long have you had the pair? Where they introduced together? Did you introduce them as a male female pair, or as two females? Have they spawned for you before?
They are not a pair, but a trio with 1M and 2F. They were all introduced at the same time.

They only recently started spawning. First time I saw them spawn was on April 14th. Since then I have seen them spawn frequently... often several days in a row. They could be spawning every night, but I don't sit and watch my tank everyday as lights go out.