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The Smaller, or Dwarf-Dwarf Angels of the Genus Centropyge
There are a handful of "the smallest of the small" pomacanthids in the world’s tropical oceans, most all beautiful, ultimately all captivating. These Centropyge of an inch, two to three at most are amongst the "best available, most appropriate" reef aquarium livestock. Most can "get by" in as small a volume as twenty-thirty gallons... for the most part they won't harm any purposeful tankmate... and to top off other beneficial characteristics, they're hardy and accept most all prepared foods.
Like the other, larger members of their genus, these dwarf dwarf Angels prefer well-established systems with plenty of cover and live rock. Unlike their hit or miss larger congeners they rarely bother cnidarians they're housed with.
The Dwarf Dwarf Centropyges:
These diminutive Angels are about the easiest going of their family... and this can be saying a bunch. This being stated, they are still aggressive for their diminutive proportions... and can hold their own against fishes a good-sized larger. As with most site-dominant species we utilize as marine ornamentals the dwarf dwarf Angels should be placed last in your stocking plan, giving less "fast and smart" fishes and motile invertebrates a chance to establish themselves, and "learn the lay of the land/tank".
Picking out healthy specimens of these species is not difficult. For the most part, all that survive the rigors of capture, holding and transport (thus far, all but the Multicolor are entirely wild-collected), are generally "good to go." Do assure yourself that the individual/s you're interested in are eating and clean however, by having your dealer feed them and catch and show you this in a clean specimen container.
What is the point? These fishes need plenty of cover... as in as much as you can provide. The more this material is based/situated on hard substrate, the better. The matrix of living and non-living material serves an as critical role as a source of food... as these fishes are constant pickers of algae, small invertebrate animals during light hours.
The actual feeding of the smaller Centropyge is identical to the larger species... In the wild they principally feed on filamentous algae and organisms associated with this (small worms and crustaceans principally). In captivity it is prudent to house them with good quantities of healthy, diverse (i.e. not too "old") live rock, supplementing what they will find and ingest with occasional sinking, small meaty food items. Prepared algae in the form of sheets and tablets is rarely taken, but growing your own "algae rocks" elsewhere and placing them in the display with these fishes will prove effective.
Though they're small, the littlest Centropyges get parasitized, fall subject to poor environment and suffer nutritional difficulties as much as their larger kin. Cryptocaryon and Amyloodinium are easily treated with prudent use (and measure) of copper (chelated is better) compounds. Internal parasites are rarely so debilitating in these fishes as to compromise their health in otherwise optimized, stable settings.
Baensch (2003) gives an account of successful breeding and rearing of a few Centropyge species, including Fisher's and Multicolor. He states that the principal hurdles to captive production of the genus are the larvae's small size at hatching and their primitive physiology. He has overcome these obstacles and has commercially produced young of a few Centropyge species for the ornamental trade.
Centropyges are broadcast spawners... releasing eggs and sperm simultaneously in the water column... The fertilized eggs, averaging about 7 mm in diameter, float to the surface and hatch in about a day... becoming part of the plankton and feeding there... and slowly growing till (hopefully) happening upon a patch of shallow reef on which to settle and metamorphose.
First foods utilized in Baensch work included trials with Rotifers and Ciliates (both unproductive) and tow collected copepod larvae and eggs (with success). See his site (link below) for more, up to date information/news.
At WetWebMedia.com we see a good deal of "can I fit this or that animal" type questions, including a fair percentage of folks who'd really like to "squeeze" a marine angel (or a few!) into a too-small system. Practically speaking, the only Pomacanthids that can be kept healthy long-term in anything smaller than sixty gallons are these dwarf dwarf Centropyge. But don't be discouraged by this limitation... these fishes are very nice to keep... They are colorful, intelligent, playful... and hardy and long-lived, given a stable setting with plenty of cover and a paucity of more aggressive tankmates.
Frank Baensch's site: http://rcthawaii.com/
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