Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the King Angelfish is an exceptionally rare species endemic to the east coast (Indian Ocean) of South Africa (Natal) and Mozambique.

Tiger Angelfish are primarily found in the Western Indian Ocean off of South Africa between Kosi Bay and Aliwal Shoal, Mozambique.

Because Tiger Angelfish are primarily found in only a small geographic area that exists in a protected marine area, they are extremely difficult to collect and rarely seen in the aquarium hobby.

Apolemichthys kingi inhabit the rocky offshore seaward reefs at depths between 35 to over 150 feet where they have been observed feeding on sponges, crustaceans, and tunicates.   Adults are believed to attain a length of 10 inches and are found in the deeper, colder waters of their range with high populations of sponges.

Juvenile Tiger Angelfish seem to prefer shallower, warmer waters.

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish have a partially white lower body color with numerous irregular black lines on the upper yellow portion of the body.  They have a small black spot to the rear of the eyes and gill plate, and a black tail edged in white.

Juveniles have a large black spot circled in yellow on the darker portion of the upper rear body that is lacking on adults.

A single Tiger Angelfish is best housed in a well established FOLR aquarium of at least 225 gallon capacity with plenty of aged live rock for grazing that is arranged into crevices, overhangs, and caves for them to hide among.   Because they will nip at soft and LPS corals as well as tridacnid clam mantles, they are not good candidates for reef tanks.

Not much is known about the husbandry of Tiger Angelfish however, being shy and one of the least aggressive angelfish, their care should be similar to others in the Apolemichthys genus.

To date, nothing is known about the mating habits of Apolemichthys kingi.

In their natural habitat, Tiger Angelfish feed on sponges, marine algae, crustaceans, and tunicates. In an aquarium environment with plenty of aged live rock with sponge growth, they should be offered a wide variety of live and frozen foods including mysis, fortified brine shrimp, krill and bosmids, frozen angelfish preparations containing sponge matter, and Nori, kelp,  marine algae pellets , or flake foods containing Spirulina.   Feed them small portions three to five times a day after they are acclimated.

Because they are only found off the coast of South Africa and Madagascar, the Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi) is a rare find in the aquarium hobby and seldom available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   A couple of online suppliers had Tiger Angelfish listed on their “wish lists” from $750.00 for a large specimen to: <3″ = $7,000.00; 3-4″ = $5,000.00, and 4″+ = $4,000.00.

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)

Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi)






Minimum Tank Size: 225 gallons
Aquarium Type: FOLR – Mature live rock
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Mildly-Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 68°F – 80 °F, dKH 8 to 12, pH 8.0 – 8.5, sg 1.020-1.027
Max. Size: 8.25″
Color Form: Black, White, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Not reef safe
Origin: South Africa, Kosi Ban and Aliwal Shoal, Mozambique
Family: Pomacanthidae
Lifespan: Unknown
Experience Level: Expert


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