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Pomacanthus maculosus.jpg

Pomacanthus maculosus, Yellowbar Angelfish. Scott W. Michael


The marine angelfishes are closely related to the butterflyfishes, but are easily separated by the prominent spine present on the preopercle. They also have a long, continuous dorsal fin. Both the anal and dorsal fin often have long filaments extending from the trailing edge. The caudal fin can be truncate or lunate (as in the zooplankton-feeding Genicanthus spp.).

The largest pomacanthid reaches a maximum length of 46 cm (18.1 in.). Many are chromatically blessed, exhibiting striking colors and remarkable patterns. In some species, the juveniles are much different in color from the adults. Some are facultative cleaners, removing parasites and necrotic tissue from other fishes. There are also some species (including all the Genicanthus spp.) that display striking sexual dichromatism and sexual dimorphism (males are usually larger than females). Many of these fishes are haremic, and most feed on sessile invertebrates and algae.


Native range:

Taxonomic rank: Family

Common name: Angelfishes

Total known Total profiles
Subfamilies 0 0
Genera 9 8
Species 74 26

Captive care: Some of the angelfishes are well suited to aquarium life, while others ignore most foods in captivity and gradually perish. (Some species have a difficult time switching from their natural diets, which may include sponges and tunicates, and are not good aquarium candidates.) Provide a suitably sized aquarium with both ample swimming room and rocky hiding places. Keep only one specimen of each species per aquarium (unless you acquire a mated pair), and limit yourself to just one member of the family per tank, unless you have a large tank and are an experienced aquarist.

Feeding: Offer a varied diet that includes plant material (especially for juveniles and pygmy angelfishes) and special frozen angelfish rations that include marine sponges. Feed at least twice a day. Many angelfishes do best if placed in a tank with a lush turf of filamentous algae and/or well-established live rock that offers constant foraging opportunities.

Notes: Always know the traits and captive care requirements of an angelfish species before making a purchase. Always quarantine angelfishes in an adequately sized hospital tank before introduction to the display aquarium. Some angelfish species (e.g., Centropyge spp.) can be housed in reef aquariums, although many will nip at large-polyped stony corals, gorgonians, and/or tridacnid clam mantles.





Reference: Reef Fishes Volume 3
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM