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Pygmy or Dwarf Angelfish


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Dwarf and Pygmy Angelfish

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Breeding Pygmy Angels
By Jim McCubbins, LMAS

Summer of 1988, I had barely gotten my feet wet in the world of a marine hobbyist. My fisrt marine tank was a 20 gal, extra high. As a rookie I made all the classic mistakes. One thing I did do right was to use 3 Black Mollies to cycle the tank.

After 30 days the Pet Shops were eager to sell me any kind of fish and as many fish as my budget could handle. Fortunetly in those first few months the waste of marinelife was sparse. It happened that a curtain pet shop was getting out of the marine fish fare in lieu of selling African Ciclids. I was in the shop and the owner offered to give me two little purple and yellowed face fish and a baby snowflake eel. Needless to say my 20 gal. tank had some new members.

As time went on I discovered that the two little fish were Pygmy Angelfish (Centropyge argi). Approx. 6 months after the pygmys were in the tank, I noticed something strange going on after the lights on the tank went out at around 9:00 PM. During the six months one of the pygmys had grown considerably bigger than the other. The larger of the pygmys began to race around the 20 gal. tank and fade in color. Well I paniced, turned the lights back on and tried to determine what was wrong with the fish. For the next couple of weeks it was constant trips to the pet shops, water testing. None of the pet shops knew what was wrong with the fish and I finally bought a copy of Beginer to Breeder by Martin Moe. After reading the book, a couple of times, I guessed that the pygmys were in courtship when all the racing around the tank occured.

Back to the Black Mollies. The only experience I had up to this point in time was a pair of black mollies I kept after cycling the 20 gal. tank. I kept them in a 5 gal container which was saltwater and they started having babies and I assure you Black Mollies have a lot of fully developed babies at birth.

After a couple of weeks of watching the pygmys go through their breeding cycle. I first started to search the tank for hours for any signs of little baby fish. I read Mr. Moe's book, again, in the section on breeding, there was a picture of some Royal Gamma eggs attacked to some algae. He also mentioned that most marine fish on the reef were palegic breeders, which basically means that they release their eggs out into the oceans and they float to the surface.

Possibly 2months after I realized the pygmy's were breeding I purchased a 3" hand held magnifing glass. It's hard to put into words the excitement I felt the first time I peered over top of the 20 gal. tank appoximately a half hour after all breeding activity had stopped. I had turned the lights back on, held the magnifing glass to focus at the surface of the water and there were hundreds of tiny round circles, eggs !

The next several months were spent in finding out the best way to collect and hatch out the eggs. It took me appoximately six months to develope a system for collection and hatching the little pygmy's eggs. The Pygmy Angelfish is a very hardy species, this fact I know very well. As I was just barely what many hobbyist would cassify a beginer when this breeding thing was taking place. I made many many mistakes, but somehow the Pygmy's survived all my mistakes.

After I was able to transfer the hatched eggs to two gals. tanks , it took me six months to figure out how to get the fry to live for more than a couple of days. From this point I spent a little over 3 years trying to rear the pygmy fry past metamorphysis. I never did succeed but I don't think anyone else has had success with rearing this particular species to adult fish.

I agreed to write this for Jim with the hopes it will create more interest in attempting to try your luck at rearing some of the animals we all so dearly cherish. A world of information is pretty easy to obtain on rearing many different species of the common species we keep in our tanks. A lot of information has been obtained since 1988. If anyone has need to learn more on the subject of breeding and rearing, feel free to contact.

Happy Marine'n

Jim McCubbins lives in Louisville KY, he was instrumental in organizing MACNA 7, and is one of the few to reach the seven day barrier with raising Pygmy Angel fry, which appears to be a food size issue. 


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