By Bob Goemans
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Holacanthus africanus

Cadenat, 1951

West African Angelfish, Guinean Angelfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Eastern Atlantic Ocean: Tropical West Africa- Cape Verde and south to the Congo.

Size: 17 inches (45 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits shallow coastal rocky reef areas at depths of 3 to 130 feet (1 – 40 m) and feeds primarily on sponges, yet also tunicates, jellyfish, soft corals, algae and plankton.

General Husbandry: This rarely collected angelfish, as a juvenile is quite pretty, as it has a dark blue body with pale blue vertical lines on each side of the eye. It also has a yellow tail and lips with the mid body area having a wide vertical white band. As is grows into adulthood, it becomes less attractive as the blue becomes an olive green, with the central white vertical bar becoming wider and yellowish white, and the caudal peduncle darkens to a near-black. Some yellow areas may remain on the edges of the dorsal and anal fins, and there is a dark eyelike spot visible behind the gill cover.

When first introduced into the aquarium, preferably a well-established fish-only aquarium with lots of live rock and cave areas, adults or juveniles should be offered several daily feedings so as to quickly acclimate it to its surroundings. Like many others in this genus, their captive diet should consist of a wide variety of frozen foods including fortified brine shrimp, mysis, and especially those containing sponge matter/angelfish food preparations and continued to be offered several times daily after its acclimated to its surroundings. Furthermore, this species is an excellent browser of various types of algae, therefore flake foods, and especially those containing Spirulina and/or Nori along with fresh macroalgae such as Caulerpa mexicana and/or C. prolifera, the tastiest of the Caulerpa species, along with fresh broccoli should also make up a sizeable portion of their diet.

Depending upon its tankmates, juveniles may be somewhat shy when first entering the aquarium, and may hide in caves and crevices. But as time passes, will become more outgoing and begin to establish its territory. As for adults, it all depends on aquarium size and tankmates, but keep in mind, those in this genus are thought of as the feistiest/most aggressive of all angelfishes and therefore, its preferable they are the last angelfish to be added to the aquarium.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Pomacanthidae

    Genus: Holacanthus

FYI: Keeping more than one genus of angelfishes in the same aquarium is possible, yet depends upon several aspects. The following suggested circumstances are just that, possibilities that when heeded and adjusted to actual aquarium conditions ‘may’ make multiple angelfish collections feasible.

Aquarium size – the larger the better.

Species from the same genus should not be in the same aquarium.

The smallest and most docile genus species should be the first introduced with the largest and most malicious the last to be added.

Do not place similar coloration species in the same aquarium.

Those already in the aquarium should be well fed before adding a newcomer.

Have sufficient hiding places/rocky caves.

Do not overfeed meaty foods, especially juveniles, as it may lead to a fatty deposit around the liver that could stop production of vitamin A. This could cause blindness, often referred to as nutritional blindness.

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: Intermediate

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Diet: Omnivore

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Fish-only aquariums and Reef Aquariums (See Below)

Reef Safe: Juveniles – Yes/Adults - No - will nip clam mantles, large and small polyped stony (LPS/SPS) corals, and also some soft corals and tubeworms.

Minimum Tank Size: 180 gallons

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

Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Holacanthus africanus (West African Angelfish, Guinean Angelfish)
Photo © Peter Wirtz
 Holacanthus africanus (West African Angelfish, Guinean Angelfish)
Photo © Hiroyuki Tanaka
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