The Dusky Angelfish (Centropyge multispinis)is also known as the Bluefin Angelfish, the Brown Pygmy Angelfish,Dusky Cherub and Multispined Angelfish. They are very common on the reefs in Tanzania and are the most common of the Centropyge species in Tanzania. The other Centropyge species , the African Pygmy Angelfish and the Coral Beauty Angelfish are far more colorful.
The colours of the Dusky Angelfish vary slightly from specimen to specimen, some are lighter coloured than others. The head area is either a dull blue colour or a slightly brighter dull blue. The eyes are circled by either brown or yellow rings which join over the nose. Below the mouth on the larger specimens there is a light yellow or brown line. The base colour of the body varies between a dark brown to a yellow brown with dark vertical bars. The bars extend onto the dorsal, caudal and anal fins with the caudal and anal fins being darker. The caudal and anal fins are ringed with bright blue stripes as are the spines of the dorsal fin. Just above and to the rear of the gill is a black spot ringed in blue. Some specimens have a yellow or brown line behind the gills. They grow up to 14cm in length and the larger specimens presumed to be males can be attractively coloured. See three images down.
IN THE WILD
The Dusky Angelfish is common on the Tanzanian coast, however they are remarkably cryptic and are quite difficult to photograph well. They head for cover as soon as one approaches them and often do not emerge again. They seem to be very susceptible to parasites and a surprising number of them that we have photographed have some type of isopod parasite on them. This can be seen in the two images below.
This isopod is remarkably well camouflaged on the Dusky Angelfish, having dark colors and yellowish lines between the plates. Often one only sees the parasite in the images once back ashore. Other than the presence of the isopod, the fish seem very healthy.
The Dusky Angelfish is found across the Indo West Pacific area and is found on almost all reefs and rubble areas on the Tanzanian Coast from 2 meters all the way down to at least 30 meters. There seem to be a lot more of them on reef flats at around 15 to 20 meters in depth.
The Dusky Angelfish feeds on small crustaceans and algae.
Very little seems to be known of this species breeding habits, but the other Centropyge species form loose haremic groups of one male and several females. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that they start off as females and that the dominant fish usually turns into a male. Should a dominant male lose the status of being the dominant male they are capable of changing back into a female.
The Dusky Angelfish is not commonly kept by aquarists. This is probably because they are not as colourful as other members of the genus. As can be seen in the image above and below however, some specimens particularly the larger ones can be quite colourful.