angelfish, common name for certain members of the Pomacanthidae, a family of brightly colored reef-dwelling tropical fishes with compressed bodies and small mouths and teeth. They were formerly classified in the same family as the similar but smaller butterfly fishes; the angelfishes have spines on their gill covers and long filaments on their dorsal fins. Angelfish are carnivorous, feeding on crabs, barnacles, and other invertebrates. The queen angelfish, a good food fish that reaches 2 ft (60 cm) in length, is colored in blues and yellows. The French angelfish is black with yellow scale edgings; the keyhole, or black, angelfish is nearly solid black with a striking central white blotch; and the bizarre rock beauty has a black body with yellow head, fins, and tail. The Atlantic spadefish is also called angelfish or white angelfish, but it belongs to the family Ephippidae, and is more closely related to the tangs. Freshwater species known as angelfish are cichlids. The true marine angelfishes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Pomacanthidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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