A Regal Angelfish is a striking addition to any reef tank, standing out among other fish as one of the main attractions. They have bright orange/canary yellow bodies with beautiful blue accents and vertical white bars. Regals from the Red Sea and Maldives are more sought after due to their orange/yellow bellies versus those with grayish bellies from Tahiti, the Coral Sea and Indo-Pacific region.


A Regal’s beauty is certainly enticing but there are a few risks to consider before purchasing this expensive fish. For starters, they are very difficult to keep and require an established tank over 100 gallons with a lot of live rock to graze on. It is also imperative to find one that is eating. If you order one online, I would only do so with a two week guarantee.


Another big risk or caveat to consider is the Regal’s reputation as a coral nipper. Typically, they will not go after SPS but I would be hesitant to add one to a tank with a lot of SPS frags. A safer bet is to try one in a mature SPS dominated reef.


LPS are another story as they are know to have an appetite for fleshy corals such as Acans, Doughnut corals, Candy Canes and Button Corals. They tend to leave Hammer and Frogspawn corals alone but Regals can mow down Zooanthids and have been known to pick at clams.


The bottom line is you are rolling the dice when adding a Regal to a reef tank. I had one in my 225 gallon SPS dominated reef and it took out some prized LPS but did not bother my SPS. I kept it well fed to reduce its tendency to nip, although this tactic is not foolproof. One should also be aware that a “reef safe” Regal can transform into a coral nipper overnight so the risk is always present.


If you are hesitant about adding a Regal but want an angelfish “fix” then consider adding one from the Genicanthus genus. Members of this genus, including Bellus, Japanese Masked Swallowtail or Watanabei angels, feed in the wild above the reef and are not prone to grazing on rock and corals in an aquarium. I had a pair of Japanese Masked Swallowtail angels and they were model citizens.


Masked Swallowtail Angelfish


In the end, it is hard to match the beauty of a Regal and reef keepers willing to risk some nipping will be rewarded with a fish viewed by many as the ultimate edition to a tank.



If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!