Angelic Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Angelfish Varieties

Dr. Roy Yanong on Pet Life Radio

Freshwater angelfish, whose scientific name, Pterophyllum means winged leaf, are a uniquely shaped member of the cichlid family from the Amazon and have been a favorite of hobbyists for decades, ever since they were first bred in the 1920’s and 30’s.

My guest  today is Matt Pedersen, Senior Editor of AMAZONAS and CORAL Magazine, and Associate Publisher with their parent company, Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC. Join us, as Matt explains how angelfish genetics translate into the numerous beautiful varieties we see today.


Matt Pedersen's career as an interactive software developer of 15 years took an interesting twist in December of 2011, and he is now a Sr. Editor of AMAZONAS and CORAL Magazines, as well as an Associate Publisher with the parental company, Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC. While still freelancing as a software developer on occasion, he also takes on work as a fly fishing guide.  Matt's diverse background also pulls from experiences as a professional orchid breeder and certified fly rod builder. Matt is originally from Chicago, IL, but he currently resides in Duluth, Minnesota, with his very understanding wife, Renee, and their young son Ethan.

Why freshwater angels? Even though Matt has concentrated on marine species, he doesn't discriminate on the basis of salt content. He recently has fallen in love with the “Platinum” Angelfish because they are so literal in their embodiment of being “angelic."  Matt has been a marine aquarist for 25 years, and an aquarist for 30+. After spending time on every side of the aquarium industry (retail, commercial and private maintenance & installation, wholesale, importing and hatchery work), he currently considers himself a "professional hobbyist" - when pressed, he would tell you he is not part of the aquarium industry these days, but part of the publishing industry! Most recently, Matt has currently spawned 26 species of marine fish, successfully raising 10 of them to date including one worldwide first (the Harlequin Filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris), as well as attempted another 6 invertebrate species to date (excluding those that tend to propagate with no special intervention).  In 2010, Matt Pedersen was selected as the breeder of choice to work with the now famous "PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish" from the SEASMART program, and chronicles the efforts to propagate this one-of-a-kind fish online at The Lightning Project. This project has realized initial success, with the successful spawning and rearing of "Lightning" offspring during the summer of 2012.

In 2009, Matt was awarded "Aquarist of the Year" honors by both IMAC West and MASNA in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to the marine aquarium hobby. Matt continues to contribute to the aquarium hobby to this day. His articles have been published in Coral, Koralle, Practical Fish Keeping, Marine Habitat, Reef Hobbyist Magazine,, Advanced Aquarist, Reef Builders, and most recently, Amazonas Magazine.  He is one of several co-authors in the much-anticipated Banggai Rescue book, the culmination of a project to reassess the plight of this enigmatic species both in the wild and the aquarium trade.  Matt has spoken at numerous aquarium clubs and events from coast to coast. He currently sits on the MBI (Marine Breeding Initiative) Council, a project dedicated to bringing the concept of a unified Marine Breeder's Award Program to hobbyist organizations across the country and around the globe. Matt also has sought and accepted a role as a CARES Preservation Group Coordinator to bring much needed insights to the plight of Marine Fishes under the auspices of the CARES effort.