The French angelfish lives on coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea and adjacent waters. Its thin, disc-shaped body makes it difficult to see head on but very easy to see from the side. They are black and gold and closely resemble their close relative, the gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus), which also has the same geographic range.
French angelfish are foragers and eat a variety of sessile invertebrates and plants, including sponges, algae, soft corals, tunicates, and others. Juveniles clean parasites and loose scales off of large fishes, including some that are predatory. French angelfish typically forage in pairs. In fact, they are almost always observed in pairs, which they form for mating and to jointly defend a feeding territory from other fishes.
This species reproduces via broadcast spawning, where the female releases her eggs and the male releases his sperm, in the water column above the reef, at the same time. This method increases the likelihood that eggs will be fertilized and that fertilized eggs will not be eaten by egg predators on the reef surface. Unlike some broadcast spawning species, French angelfish do not form large aggregations to spawn. They reproduce only with their partner.
French angelfish are not fished commercially, but they are eaten by people in some places. The more brightly colored juveniles are also captured alive for display in public and private aquaria. Currently, scientists do not believe that either of these activities are significantly affecting French angelfish populations and consider this species to be one of least concern.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.