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Queen Angelfish
The queen angelfish was first described and named in 1758 by Linnaeus. Other names include blue angelfish, golden angelfish, queen angel, and yellow angelfish. This fish prefers reefs that surround offshore islands. The queen is limited to tropical western Atlantic waters, ranging from Bermuda to Brazil and from Panama to the Windward Islands, and is most common in the Caribbean sea. Queen angelfish are generally found at the bottom of coral reefs. It can be found from nearshore shallows all the way down 230 feet down (70m). It is a fish that tends to travel either in pairs or alone. Considered by many one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean, its brilliant blue and yellow colors easily separates it from all the other western Atlantic angelfish species, with the exception of the Blue Angelfish. While they have similar coloration, the queen has a dark, ringed spot with blue dots on its forehead that resembles a crown, and a completely yellow tail. While rare, it is not unheard of, however, that the Queen and Blue angelfish interbreed and create a hybrid. The appearance of the juvenile angelfish is quite different from that of the adult. They are dark blue with a yellow tail, a yellow area around the pectoral fins, and brilliant blue vertical bars on the body. The queen juvenile has curved bars, and prefers offshore reefs. As it grows larger, its color gradually changes from the dark blue of youth to the brilliant blues and yellows of the adults. Adult queen angelfish can reach lengths of 18" (45cm) and weights up to 56 ounces (1.6 kg). It feeds on a variety of marine invertebrates including sponges, tunicates, jellyfish, corals, plankton, and algae. It seems, though, that the majority of their diet consists of sponges. The adults are found in pairs year round. The pairs reproduce by rising up in the water, bringing their bellies close together, and releasing sperm and eggs. The female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening and as many as ten million eggs during each spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent, bouyant, and pelagic, floating in the water column. They hatch after 15 to 20 hours into larvae that lack effective eyes, fins, or even a gut. The large yolk sac is absorbed after 48 hours, during which time the larvae develop normal characteristics of free swimming fish. These larvae then feed on plankton in the water column. The larvae grow rapidly to 15-20mm long juvenile in about 3-4 weeks. Juvenile queen angelfish are solitary and live usually near colonies of finger sponges and coral. They are territorial and been known to set up cleaning stations along the reed within their territory. Cleaning stations are areas where larger fishes allow a smaller fishes to remove parasites under the understanding that the large fish stays motionless, allows the smaller fish access to sensitive areas, and, of course, does not eat the smaller fish. They are somewhat shy but occasionally curious, and often observe divers from a short distance. They are harvested commercially, for the aquarium hobby rather than as a food source. Their value seems to stem directly from the beauty that they add to their surroundings.
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