Experimenting with large angelfish in reef aquariums is always a gamble. But their sheer beauty alone make it worth the risk. There are some angelfish that are considered safer than others — the Chaetodontoplus, Apolemichthys, and Pygoplites angelfish come to mind — but there is no sure bet when it comes to reef safe anglefish. Having had great long term success with a Pygoplites or Regal Angel, I decided to give one of the other genus members a try finally settling upon a Goldflake Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus).
With any angelfish in a reef aquarium, you have to make a compromise somewhere. Experience has proven there is no such angelfish that is a 100% reef safe and there is usually a coral or two you end up losing. You just chalk it up as a compromise and accept that you cannot keep those types of corals anymore. In the case of the Regal Angel, I learned to accept I couldn’t keep Zoanthids and with the Goldflake, I accepted that Cespitularia was out of the equation. Fortunately, I have a soft coral nano tank to keep those corals.
Ultimately and unfortunately, the Goldflake took a liking to a few more corals. Most notably the fleshy LPS like Favia. That was too much for this reefer to handle and I decided it was time to find the Goldflake a new home. This particular fish would be fine in SPS-dominated aquarium, but my taste was with larger variety of corals.
This is part of the gamble. I have no regrets. These gorgeous fish are worth trying. I’ve kept Pomacanthus, and I still have plenty of Centropyge in the house. There are plenty of reefs with well-behaved Goldflakes, however my aquarium didn’t end up being one of them. Part of the magic of this hobby is taking a gamble and having it pay off. If you are up to the gamble, one more bit of advice, make sure you have a good fish trap handy!