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Related FAQs: Maculosus, Asfur Angels 1 Angelfish, Asfur, Maculosus 2Arusetta Identification, Arusetta Behavior, Arusetta Compatibility, Arusetta Selection, Arusetta Systems, Arusetta Feeding, Arusetta Disease, Arusetta Reproduction, Arusetta Reproduction, Marine Angelfishes In General, Angelfish ID, Selection, Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Health, Feeding, Disease,  

Related Articles: Marine Angelfishes, Pomacanthus AngelsAngels of the Red Sea

/A Diversity of Aquatic Life

Expensive, Gorgeous & Hardy, the Yellow-Band, Map Angel, Pomacanthus (Arusetta) maculosus

Bob Fenner

In the Red Sea

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

What do you think when you hear about livestock from the Red Sea areas? Golden butterflies (Chaetodon semilarvatus)? Similar species, like some of the Lionfishes, but even more colorful and with even more flowing finnage? Big, bad sharks? Well, probably all this and more, but invariably we all have one image come to mind: Moolah, dinero, okani, the big bongo bucks it takes to "reach out and touch some one" to acquire these specimens. Unfortunately, due to vagaries of human conflict, poorly developed collection and distribution facilities, distance from the good ole debt-driven economy which is the U.S. of A., the bogus value of the currency of the same, et alia res, critters hailing only from the region are muy expensivo. And what a shame! Many are supremely well-suited for captive containment. The yellow-band angel is an exemplary species in this regard, being very disease resistant, accepting greedily all types of fresh and prepared foods, and getting along behaviorally with almost all other species.

Classification: Taxonomy, Relation With Other Groups

For so-called "higher (than family) classification" discussion see articles elsewhere in this series on this genus, other related genera including one of my least favorite (Euxiphipops), the sub-order Percoidea, Order Perciformes, and on up the scale ad nauseum.

Members of the marine angelfish family, Pomacanthidae, no duh; and near identical for the genus Pomacanthus in overall morphology, development, size, nutrition, disease control and water quality demands. Gee, that was easy! The species is distributed throughout the Persian Gulf, the northwestern Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It is considered almost sympatric with the Arabian angelfish, P. asfur is akin in appearance as a sub-adult as well as transformed adult (beyond four to six inches) in shape and coloration. A salient color difference is the Arabian's bright yellow tail. Both species are found in over-lapping habitats in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, are comparable pricey, and hardy. P. maculosus is my sure favorite for being more out-going, however.

A Tale/Tail of Two Sympatric Angelfish Species: 

Pomacanthus (Arusetta) asfur (Forsskal 1775), the Arabian or Crescent Angel (1). A fabulous beauty and centerpiece for very large systems. To sixteen inches in the wild. Red Sea on down to Arabian Sea and around Horn of Africa to Zanzibar. Below: A two and three inch juvenile and adult in captivity.  

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Pomacanthus (Arusetta) maculosus (Forsskal 1775), the Yellow-Band or Map Angelfish. Very similar as adults and juveniles to Pomacanthus asfur, with told apart from their clear tails and smaller yellow body patch. To eighteen inches long. Red Sea, Persian Gulf to east African coast. Adults in captivity and the wild pictured.

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Selection: General to Specific

Whatever size is available and that you can afford will probably do very well. I have extremely rarely encountered a "beat" or "not likely to survive/prosper" specimen. These fish are consistently good.

Juveniles and sub-adults are differently marked and colored than adults. Comparable to younger Euxiphipops, P. annularis, asfur, chrysurus, semicirculatus, and striatus (have I forgotten anyone?) small yellow-bands are alternately blue-white and black banded. Want to impress friends (only try this on the terminally fish-fixated) and bore tearless the less-than passionate? Refer to Allen's book below and study 'til you can discern these various species as juveniles...and, hey! where 'you going? Okay, okay, I was only making a funny.

Anyhow, back to the story at hand. I've yet to find a one yellow-band offered on the market that did not appear healthy and eat from the get-go. Larger specimens are very nice as well, just cost an arm, leg and fin due to freight costs (when are folks gonna ship these things out of Eilat?) and I've never occasioned upon one that had "an attitude" behavioral problem...

Longevity? They're tough. The photo offered was taken a few years back at Phil Shane's Quality Marine in L.A.. It was there before then and is there now.

May as well make mention of other common and scientific names allied with the species: the blue moon (as if when I and you will be able to afford one) angelfish, Holacanthus (!) coeruleus, H. lineatus, H. haddaja, J. mokhella. The latter info. on junior synonyms came from an old T.F.H. source so "take it with a (big) bag, not grain of salt". Hotay? Okay.

Environmental: Conditions


Allen found the species mainly in coral and rocky areas, in shallow to moderate depths (forty feet), consistent with other member-species in the genus. Also as with other Pomacanthus considering the ultimate size of the specimen and the system is of importance. Yellow-Bands get a good foot long in captivity and need at least an uncrowded hundred gallons to fare well.


Exacting as is for most Red Sea biotopes. Keep your water clean and constant in it's chemistry and physics. A higher density is appreciated, at least close to a specific gravity of 1.025. Be religious in your frequent partial water changes. Check and empty (Yes, you will have one) protein skimmer daily.


Really save up your dough, learn to dive and make the big excursion to the geographic area itself. It will be worth it, for among other reasons to observe this and other species' behavior in vivo. These are really


If you are going to be spending the major ducats for righteous livestock, do not scrimp on reliable, well designed/engineered/constructed filter gear, installed and maintained properly. Check into Eheim, Tunze, Sander's, TMC (Tropical Marine Center), and other "real" equipment. Enough proselytizing.

Behavior: Territoriality

As noted before, this fish is downright friendly, so curious that it often approaches the capturing diver on their meeting. They rarely tolerate more than one or closely related and sized species in a system. If you're excessively cursed with cash, coupled with insane curiosity and no common sense, go ahead, make my wholesale day... but remember the cost of freedom? Eternal vigilance!? The right to bear arms was not to gather fun foods, but to keep the "people's government" at bay. Don't surrender your weapons or common sense and observation.


Veritably the same as for other top 'O the rock community species. 1) Put in first, leave the lighting on for a day, feed frequent, small amounts, keep your eyes open. 2) Put in not first, disrupt the physical environment (move the decor about). See rest, above 1). 3) Place concurrently with other livestock; no sweat. See above 1).

Predator/Prey Relations

Like other large angels, enjoy a thoroughly stocked reef tank, to eat! They do and will sample everything; anemones, algae, tubeworms, corals. Not much attacks them once they establish their alpha dominance.


As for other's in the genus; cyclical upper-water column egg scatterers..


This angel and it's congener readily accepts any and all types of fresh and prepared food. Frequent, smaller feedings result in a better conditioned and friendly individual.

Disease: Infectious, Parasitic

If there is an infectious, parasitic, nutritional, environmental or other hobbyist-contrived trouble-mediating effect this fish will be among the last infected. They're tough tough tough.


If you've got the cash, the space and the desire for a large, beautiful, hardy marine specimen, there are few that can match the yellow-band angel. Save up and invest.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Allen, Gerald R. 1978. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Vol. 2. MERGUS Verlag, Hans Baensch, Germany.

Giovanetti, Thomas A. 1989. Getting acquainted with Red Sea fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist, 9/89.

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here

New Print Book on Create Space: Available here
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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