Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

The Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides) is found in the Western Indian Ocean from Delagoa Bay in Mozambique, southwards along the coast of South Africa as far as Knysna in the Western Cape.

Although their main distribution is the shallow reefs off Durban and Umkomaas in South Africa and Madagascar; individuals have also been found in parts of northeast Africa, and between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Adult Old Woman Angelfish are commonly found in congregations of 20 to 30 individuals along the shorelines and shallow rocky reefs at mid to surface water depths between 15 to 100 feet where they feed on algae, sponges, benthic invertebrates, sea squirts, worms, and occasionally plankton at or near the surface.

Juvenile Old Woman Angelfish are usually found in shallower waters and often in tidal pools.

Juvenile Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Juvenile Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Adult Old Woman Angelfish are colored a metallic bluish gray to bronze/brown on the front two thirds of their body, with a pale blue gray triangular area on their posterior just in front of their black tail.   They have short dorsal and anal fins.

Juvenile Pomacanthus rhomboides have a mainly black body covered with thin, concentric, light blue and white lines. Juvenile Old Woman Angelfish are much more colorful, almost indistinguishable from juveniles of Pomacanthus annularis, and frequently misidentified by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Semi Adult Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Semi Adult Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Juvenile Old Woman Angelfish are best housed in an aged FOLR tank of at least 150 gallon capacity with plenty of aged live rock arranged into crevices, overhangs, and caves for hiding.  Although they can be housed with other species of the same size and temprament, do not house them with other angelfish in the same genus or with similarly colored species. Adults require an aquarium of at least 250 gallon capacity when housed with other like sized species.

Because Pomacanthus rhomboides are known to nip at soft and LPS corals, small invertebrates, and tridacnid clam mantles; they are not considered good candidates for reef tanks.   However, a few tropical fish keeping enthusiasts have reportedly been able to successfully keep them in large reef tanks (over 500 gallons) with with small polyped stony corals and species like Cladiella spp., Lamnalia spp., Litophyton spp., Sinularia spp. that produce a noxious chemical defense.

The Old Woman Angelfish is an egg scattering species that has not been bred in an aquarium environment. A few have been successfully bred by professionals.

Old Woman Angelfish are omnivores that feed on marine algae, sponges, sea squirts, other bethnic invertebrates, small crustaceans, tunicates, and plankton.   In an aquarium environment, they should be fed a varied diet of quality marine flakes, pellets, Nori sheets, Mysis, fortified brine shrimp, and frozen angelfish preparations containing sponge matter.

Dry foods should contain algae as the main ingredient. Feed them small portions three to four times a day after they have been acclimated. This reduces the risk of browsing on corals and other inhabitants that may be in the tank.

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides) are extremely rare in the aquarium trade undoubtedly because their range does not overlap with the main areas of Africa’s coast where ornamental tropical fish are normally collected.

Juveniles may be available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from online retail sites and African based trans shippers on a back order basis, but we have not yet found any source for them in the hobby.

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

Old Woman Angelfish (Pomacanthus rhomboides)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons
Aquarium Type: FOLR – Mature live rock
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 73°F – 82 °F, dKH 8 to 12, pH 8.0 – 8.5, sg 1.020-1.027
Max. Size: 18.25″
Color Form: Black, Brown, Gray
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Not reef safe
Origin: Western Indian Ocean
Family: Pomacanthidae
Lifespan: 15-25 years
Experience Level: Intermediate

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