Purplemask Angelfish

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Centropyge venusta - (Yasuda & Tominaga, 1969)
Purplemask Angelfish

Difficult to feed, this is a glorious species for experts only. Scott W. Michael


This is an attractive and prized species, but often difficult to keep. Many individuals are reluctant to accept aquarium foods. A prospective purchase should be active, feeding, and have a full-looking stomach.

A large, well-established reef aquarium where this fish can freely graze is ideal. Provide with plenty of suitable hiding places, including rocky caves and overhangs, and house with nonaggressive fishes. It will do better in a deep aquarium, with areas of shade and dim lighting.

This species was formerly known as Paracentropyge venusta and as Centropyge venustus.

Family: Pomacanthidae

Other common name(s):

  • Venusta Angelfish
  • Venustus Angelfish
  • Blue-backed Angelfish

Native range:

Habitat: Outer reef slopes, in caves and in the shadows under ledges, where it is is often seen hanging upside-down. Because it is a cave dweller in the wild, it will often spend more time in the open if housed in a dimly lit tank.

Maximum length: 12 cm (5 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 208 L (55 gal)

Lighting: Will acclimate better in reduced lighting situations.

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater to bottom.


Difficult to feed. Varied diet, including vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, finely-chopped crustacean flesh, mysid shrimp, as well as frozen preparations for angelfishes and herbivores.

It might also feed on microalgae, detritus, and live sponges growing on live rock. Feed at least 3 times daily.

Aquarium Compatibility

This is a typical dwarf angelfish. It can be kept in a reef aquarium, but some individuals may start to nip at large-polyped stony corals and clam mantles.

Special Care

Best kept singly, in a male-female pair or a harem (one male and several females).


Not reported in captivity. Pelagic eggs and larvae. In the wild, it may produce hybrid offspring with the Multibarred Angelfish, Centropyge multifasciata.

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