Gray Angelfish: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Gray angelfish facts, unique fish species

Have you ever been mesmerized looking at the small but colorful fishes floating in the giant fish tanks in the aquarium? In this article, we find out some fascinating information about one such fish called the gray angelfish. The juvenile angelfish looks different from the adult. The juvenile angelfish is black with yellow stripes across its body. It eventually becomes pale gray with brown shades in its fins. These species feed on sponges, gorgonians, and hydroids.

The scientific name of gray angelfish is Pomacanthus arcuatus, and they are of Pomacanthus genus species. This genus species is usually found at a depth of seven to 100 ft (2.3-33.3 yd) on the coral reef in the Gulf of Mexico in the western Atlantic Ocean, having a wide range from New England to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). The coral reefs give them a safe hiding spot from predators during the night. When stressed, they become aggressive and may bite their sea companions or surrounding humans. Hence, it might be better to understand how to care for them properly before having them as your pet.

If you like our article on the fun facts on gray angelfish, you could check out some more articles like catfish and marlin!

Gray angelfish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Sponges, small fishes, algae

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

25,000-75,000 per spawning

How much do they weigh?

4 lb (1.8 kg)

How long are they?

24 in (60 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Pale gray, dark brown, yellow spots

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What are their main threats?

Humans, larger fishes, sharks

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Tropical and subtropical coastal marine water


New England, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tobago, USA, the Gulf of Mexico in the western Atlantic Ocean





Scientific Name

Pomacanthus arcuatus





Gray Angelfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gray angelfish?

The gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) is a species of fish living in the Ocean.

What class of animal do a gray angelfish belong to?

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) belong to the class of fish called Actinopterygii.

How many gray angelfishes are there in the world?

The exact number of gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) is not available, but they are under no threat to extinction and have a stable population.

Where do gray angelfish live?

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) live in the ocean.

What is a gray angelfish’s habitat?

This marine animal commonly lives at a depth of seven to 100 ft (2.3-33.3 yd) on coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean range and their range extends throughout the places such as New England, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to the Gulf of Mexico and Tobago.

Who do gray angelfish live with?

The gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) prefers to live life in a group while young but live life solitary in adulthood while in its natural habitat. Some of these fish also live in pairs. In aquariums, it is not recommended to keep angelfishes alone since the boredom can negatively impact their life.

How long do gray angelfish live?

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) live for around a range of 5-10 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating pair swim slowly together to bring their vents closer. Eggs are laid by the females, and the male releases milt in the water. Spawning occurs from April to September, and there are almost 25,000-75,000 eggs released. The female releases eggs usually in the mornings. These eggs hatch into larvae in about 15-20 hours. These larvae live on planktons until they become mature enough to live on the reef.

What is their conservation status?

The marine species are considered under Least Concern of conservation status. They have a stable population in the sea and are found in various aquariums.

Gray Angelfish Fun Facts

What do gray angelfish look like?

Gray angelfish change a lot from the time they are juveniles until adulthood, so much that they become almost unrecognizable. Juveniles are usually black with yellow stripes across their body, which then extends to their fins. They have a yellow ring around their mouth, making them one of their distinguishing features. When the juvenile fish grow into adults, they lose their yellow bands and turn into pale gray with brownish shades. The scales have a dark brown spot towards the center and gray towards the ends. The pectoral fins, pelvic fin, head, and chest fins become dark brown. The mouth usually turns white. The fins are dark brown, except the caudal fin that is white or pale gray. The pectoral fins have a yellow tinge. The pectoral fin extends beyond the base of the dorsal and anal fins.

The marine gray angelfish has a very small mouth. The lower jaw is more distinguished than the upper jaw. The vertical fins are scaled, and the dorsal fins are continuous. The caudal fin is curved in juveniles, but in adults, the caudal fin becomes straight. The dorsal fin is a distinguishing feature from a similar fish called spadefish.

Find interesting information on gray angelfish and how they live in the ocean.

How cute are they?

The gray angelfish looks very colorful and attractive. This is the reason many divers like to do underwater photography around them.

How do they communicate?

The exact way gray angelfish communicate is not available, but angelfish generally communicate using chemical signals released from their urine or bile that release in the water. These signals can be sensed by taste or smell.

How big is a gray angelfish?

A gray angelfish has been observed at a maximum length of 24 in (60 cm). Hence making it almost 12 times bigger than a goldfish!

How fast can a gray angelfish run?

The exact swimming speed of these marine animals is unknown. They are not very active swimmers and prefer to swim slowly in slow currents. In fact, they cannot swim very well in harsh water currents.

How much do gray angelfish weigh?

The gray angelfish attains a maximum weight of around 4 lb (1.8 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The species does not have a different name based on their gender. The gray angelfish is referred to as either female gray angelfish or male gray angelfish to specify the genders of the species.

What would you call a baby gray angelfish?

There is no specific name for baby gray angelfish. But baby angelfish are called fry.

What do they eat?

At least 70% of their diet in life consists of their feed on sponges. They also feed on fishes of comparable sizes, seagrass, corals, gorgonians, hydroids, and algae.

They are predated by larger marine animals like sharks, groupers, octopuses, sea anemones, and more.

Are they poisonous?

Generally, the gray angelfish is not poisonous and is commonly sold for human consumption. But there have been a few reports on ciguatera poisoning after their consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

Gray angelfishes are very popular among aquarium enthusiasts. They are usually kept in pairs. They need to be appropriately cared for; otherwise, they can be a little aggressive towards other fishes in the fish tank. Experts say that angelfish are intelligent and can even remember the faces of their owners.

Did you know...

Gray angelfish can bite humans or other fish companions in the fish tank under stress or during breeding. Thus, they are not wholly dangerous to humans, but they can be aggressive and territorial as compared to other fishes.

Are gray angelfish edible?

Yes, they are. Gray angelfish are said to be suitable for human consumption and are sold as both fresh and salted.

How do angelfish defend themselves?

Angelfishes have a sharp spine on each gill cover. They use this as a weapon to defend themselves in their daily life or even to squeeze themselves into coral reefs. They can also become aggressive when stressed and are known to bite their companion in the sea or at aquariums. They also try to camouflage in the coral reef to confuse their predators.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our herring facts and yellowfin tuna facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fish coloring pages.



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