By Bob Goemans
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Centropyge colini

Smith-Vaniz & Randall, 1974

Colin’s Pygmy Angelfish, Cocos-Keeling Angelfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Western Pacific Ocean: Cocos-Keeling Atoll, Palau, Fiji, Guam, and Indonesia

Size: 3.5 inches (9 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits old coral heads, crevices, and caves in outer reef drop off areas and found at depths between 75 to 250 feet (25 – 80 m) where they are found in small groups. Diet, which is still vague, is thought to be microalgae and sponges.

General Husbandry: This rarely seen in the trade, fairly deep water beautiful dwarf angelfish has a body that is mostly yellow with its upper quarter a bright blue. Quite secretive in the wild and because of its natural shyness its highly recommended it be added to only well established aquariums containing lots of live rock that will provide it many caves and crevices to explore and/or hide in when feeling threatened, and specially so since its a low light deep water species. Its tankmates should be all be non-aggressive species so as to encourage it to more freely explore the aquarium and venture out when its feeding time.

As to diet, they will accept a wide variety of frozen foods including fortified brine shrimp, mysis, and especially those containing sponge matter/angelfish food preparations. Flake food is also accepted, and should include algae-based foods, including Spirulina. Two feedings per day is highly recommended, possibly more if needed, as underfed specimens have a tendency to pester corals and other invertebrates. Its also recommended there be only one species from this dwarf angelfish genus in the aquarium, as they develop aggression toward other dwarf angelfish species.

Not suited for small nano style aquariums, as they will become very aggressive in small surroundings, and furthermore, without numerous feedings per day, be able to find enough food to be maintained long-term.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Pomacanthidae

    Genus: Centropyge

FYI: All Centropyge species start life as unsexed individuals, but begin their adult life as females. Then, the larger or more dominant individual within small groups will change sex within a few days to a couple of weeks and become a male. Knowing that size is the main difference between the sexes, and not so much its coloration, all one needs to do is place a small and larger specimen together. Within approximately sixty days one of the two fish will have physically changed sex to accommodate the other. A reversal of this sex change is possible if the need arises, but that requires much more time, e.g., weeks to months.

Keep in mind all angels have cheekspines at the edge of their gill cover; therefore use caution when handling and also avoid using a net to capture it, as it may become stuck or tangled in the net and become damaged when removed.

Experience Level: Experienced Only

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Diet: Omnivore

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Reef aquarium (see below) or fish-only aquarium

Reef Safe: With caution – underfed specimens have a tendency to nip clam mantles, sea anemones, and large and small–polyped stony (LPS/SPS) corals and zoanthids.

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Temperature Range: 70 - 82°F (21 – 27°C).

Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Centropyge colini (Colin’s Pygmy Angelfish, Cocos-Keeling Angelfish)
Photo © Hiroyuki Tanaka
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