Asfur Angelfish, Crescent Angelfish, Half Moon AngelfishFamily: PomacanthidaePomacanthus asfurPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
The Arabian Angelfish has the beauty and endearing personality that we all look for in a pet fish!
The Arabian Angelfish Pomacanthus asfur is unusually beautiful both as a juvenile and as an adult. The adult has a royal blue body with an intense yellow tail and a large, wide, yellow "V" shaped stripe. The juvenile has an attractive blue with light-blue and white stripes. During both stages this angel is truly a stunning eye catcher. Other common names the Arabian Angelfish are known by are the Asfur Angelfish, Crescent Angelfish, and Half Moon Angelfish.
The Arabian Angelfish has bold colors but not the dominant personality seen in some other large angels. These angelfish are some of the shyest of the Pomacanthus group, but with a friendly disposition. Still as with most saltwater fish, they will not tolerate other angelfish and can be very aggressive towards its own kind, unless in a matched pair. As they become accustom and comfortable with their tank, they may pick on passive fish and any new tank mates. But as long as the pestered fish is not cowering and will still eat, they both should adapt.
The Arabian Angelfish can reach around 16 inches (41 cm) in the wild and when kept in a large enough tank, but they rarely grow more than 9.6 inches (24 cm) in captivity. Still they will need a very large tank to reach their full captive capacity and bright coloration. These angelfish are more prone to stress than other fish of the same size when not provided with a large amount of swimming room. Their more shy nature means they do need to have several hiding areas to feel secure. A juvenile can be started in 150 gallons (568 liters), but an adult really needs at least 250 - 300 gallons (950 - 1135 l) for comfort and to achieve its bright adult colors. Their shallower water preferences in the wild permit a higher temperature tank than what is needed for deep dwelling fish. In most cases, there is no need for a chiller with these fish.
As long as correct tank parameters are met, the Arabian Angel can acclimate and is moderately hardy as an adult. The more secure this fish feels, the more it will come out into the open. Too small of a swimming area for these large angels results in a lack of full adult coloration, stress, and shorter life span. Aggressive tank mates will also prevent this angel from coming out and cause it stress.
Arabian Angelfish are generally not considered reef safe. However you may be able to keep them with small polyp stony corals (SPS) and very noxious soft corals. Of course, those two types of coral are not typically kept together, but a tank full of one or the other would be quite spectacular. Keeping your angelfish well fed will also contribute to your corals not looking like an appetizer.
For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium
Arabian Angelfish pair (Male & Female)
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Arabian Angelfish (Pomacanthus asfur)
Great video (part 1 of 3) of an Arabian Angelfish (Asfur Angelfish) male and female pair obviously happy and not concerned about other angelfish in the tank. They appear to be trying to spawn, which would be great for marine conservation! There are 3 parts to this video and all three show the male and female's interest in each other. Obviously, the owner was careful in their selection of other angelfish, as these two are pretty much oblivious to the others in the tank!
- Size of fish - inches: 16.1 inches (41.00 cm)
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult
- Range ph: 8.1-8.4
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 150 gal (568 L)
- Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
The Arabian Angelfish Pomacanthus asfur is also known as the Asfur Angelfish, Crescent Angelfish, and Half Moon Angelfish. It is from the Pomacanthidae family, and was first described by by Forsskal in 1755. They are found in the Western Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, then south to Zanzibar which is about 3/4 of the way down the African east coast. It is on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC), with a stable population.
The Arabian Angelfish are found singly or as pairs on semi-protected inshore reefs at depths of 10 to 50 feet (3 to 15 m). They enjoy the protection of the areas near caves where there are soft and stony corals. There they feed on benthic algae, weeds, sponges and tunicates.
In the wild they may hybridize with the Red Sea Angelfish or Yellowbar Angelfish, Pomacanthus maculosus . Both the adult Asfur Angelfish and the juvenile are very similar in color patterning as the Red Sea Angel. As of yet, breeding in captivity is not possible and tank raising these angels has not been successful.
- Scientific Name: Pomacanthus asfur
- Social Grouping: Solitary - Solitary, or occasionally as a male/female pair.
- IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern - A stable population.
The Arabian Angelfish or Asfur Angelfish has dorsal and anal fin streamers, which contribute to the beauty of this fish. The face is a steel blue to gray color in front of the gill area, then brightens up to a bright royal blue under the chin area and the area behind the eye. There is a intense yellow band in the middle of the body, which is widest at the top of the dorsal fin. As it extends downward it becomes narrowest at the belly, terminating just before the bottom or anal area of the fish.
Depending on the age and origin of the fish, the area after the yellow bar can be an all dark bluish black or there may be a small area between the yellow bar and yellow fin that is the same bright royal blue as the front of the fish. It is similar in patterning to the Red Sea Angelfish or Yellowbar Angelfish, Pomacanthus maculosus. Unlike P. maculosus, the yellow band on the Asfur Angelfish is much wider and more pronounced and the Asfur has a yellow tail, whereas the P. maculosus does not.
The juvenile is an attractive blue with bright royal blue edging and black, blue and light blue vertical stripes. Among these stripes are 3 white stripes. The first is right behind the eye. The second is 1/2 way down the body with a slight curve as if it is outlining where the future yellow stripe will be. The 3rd stripe is located about 3/4s of the way down the fish, between the mid-point of the fish and the tail fin.
This juvenile looks similar to the Koran Angelfish Pomacanthus semicirculatus juvenile, except on the Asfur Angelfish these 3 bars are predominantly more white. Older juveniles will have yellow markings on the dorsal and a yellow caudal fin that make them distinguishable from the Koran angelfish. Juveniles are also similar to the young Red Sea Angelfish P. maculosus and young Emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator species, both of which also have blue bodies with white stripes.
Arabian Angelfish (juvenile) Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Hiroyuki Tanaka
This large Pomacanthus can grow up to 16” (41 cm) in the wild and when kept in a large enough tank, but they rarely grow more than 9.6 inches (24 cm) in captivity. These fish have a lifespan over 20 years in captivity
- Size of fish - inches: 16.1 inches (41.00 cm) - This is a large Pomacanthus that can grow up to 16" (38 cm) in the wild. When kept in a large enough tank in captivity they usually attain a length of 9.6 inches (24 cm).
- Lifespan: 20 years - Lifespan over 20 years in captivity.
The Arabian Angelfish or Asfur Angelfish are moderately difficult to keep as juveniles and moderately easy as adults if provided plenty of room. They are considered to be for intermediate to advanced aquarists only because of the large size of the tank needed to properly them. If a tank of 250 gallons (950 l) or more can be provided, then they would be considered moderately hardy as adults. This is due to lower stress levels that result from adequate swimming room. An adults that is successfully acclimated will become a very hardy fish, and will even venture to the surface and take foods from its keepers.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult - Moderately difficult as juveniles, but moderately easy as adults when kept in a large tank of 250 gallon (950 l) or more.
- Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate - Intermediate to advanced, depending on the tank size.
Arabian Angelfish are omnivores. In the wild they eat a wide variety of sponges with small amounts of algae, tunicates, hydroids, and bryozoans. It is important that you feed angelfish all kinds of live, frozen, and prepared formula foods. Feed vegetable based foods as well as meaty foods like chopped squid, scallop, and shrimp. Prepared foods with marine sponge and tunicates are essential. Foods containing color enhancing qualities may be used as well. A good formula that can be made at home consists of mussels, shrimp, squid, and spinach. Feed 3 or more times a day. Frequent smaller feedings will help them to be more friendly and in better health.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Occasionally - With spirulina and sponge material included, and color enhancing foods are also helpful.
- Tablet Pellet: Occasionally - With spirulina and sponge material included.
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet - Brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, as well as other protein sources can be offered occasionally.
- Vegetable Food: Most of Diet - Feeding sponge and live algae will help them stay healthy, as well as algae sheets and vegetables, which you'll find them to enjoy.
- Meaty Food: Some of Diet - Too much meaty foods will cause vitamin deficiencies.
- Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Minimum 3 times a day. They need several small feedings a day that include vegetable matter, sponge material, and meaty foods.
In general, Pomacanthus angelfish are not as forgiving as many other fish when it comes to water quality. Keeping water quality on the higher side is important with angelfish. Water changes of 30% a month, or 15% every 2 weeks is optimal in keeping nitrates lower. If there are corals in the tank, then 20% every month, 10% every 2 weeks or 5% a week works great.
A large tank is important for this large fish. Because it needs a lot of food, there is a large bio-load on the aquarium and a smaller tank will foul quickly. A suggested guideline is to keep up with your water testing, which will tell you when your tank needs a water change.
- Water Changes: Bi-weekly - Bi-weekly Water changes of 15% every 2 weeks or 30% a month. If there are corals in the tank, then 10% every 2 weeks or 20% every month.
The Arabian Angelfish, like other large angels, needs a stable environment which is at least 6 months old. A minimum size of at least 150 gallons (568 liters), but an adult really needs at least 250 - 300 gallons (950 - 1135 l) to obtain proper color and size. The tank should be well decorated with rocks/corals arranged with plenty of hiding places, especially for juveniles. Provide Water parameters of: 72-85° F, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025. Asfur Angelfish need decent reef-like lighting or they can develop HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion Disease).
- Minimum Tank Size: 150 gal (568 L) - 150 gallons (568 liters) is adequate for a juvenile. A tank that is 250 to 300 gallons (950 - 1135 l) will help them obtain proper color and size, and to keep a male/female pair.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: No
- Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places - Hiding places are needed to help the angelfish feel secure.
- Substrate Type: Any
- Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - It is best kept under normal lighting, but can also be kept in sunlit conditions as well as a dimly lit tank. Lighting is needed to provide algal crops on live rock.
- Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
- Specific gravity: 1.019-1.025 SG
- Range ph: 8.1-8.4
- Brackish: No
- Water Movement: Any - No special requirements, the Asfur Angelfish can tolerate a rather stronger flow but slow-moving water is preferable.
- Water Region: All - They will spend time in all parts of the aquarium.
The Arabian Angelfish, found singly or in pairs in the wild, is semi-aggressive. It is one of the more peaceful Pomacanthus . In captivity Asfur Angels do well with similar tempered tank mates though it may pester very passive fish and newly introduced fish. They will not tolerate other angelfish and will become aggressive in the presence of another angelfish. Aggressive tank mates will cause distress, disease and eventual death of the angelfish. Smaller than stated tank size will also result in more aggressive behavior.
In a reef environment they will not bother Small Polyp Stony Corals (SPS) or noxious soft corals, but will nip at Large Polyp Stony Corals (LPS), Xenia, and Tridacnid clams. They may be a threat to small decorative shrimp.
- Venomous: No
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive - Peaceful if given a proper tank size and tank mates.
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - Best to keep only a single species. A male/female mated pair can be kept in a very large aquarium over 250 to 300 gallons.
- Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Safe - May pester very passive fish.
- Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe - May be aggressive towards dwarf angelfish.
- Aggressive (dottybacks, 6-line & 8-line wrasse, damselfish): Monitor
- Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Monitor - Will be aggressive towards other large angelfish species.
- Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Safe
- Slow Swimmers & Eaters (seahorses, pipefish, mandarins): Threat - Angelfish are too aggressive in feeding to keep with slow feeding species.
- Anemones: Monitor - May nip at them.
- Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Monitor - May nip at them.
- LPS corals: Threat
- SPS corals: Threat
- Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Threat
- Leather Corals: Monitor
- Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Threat - Safe with corals from Sinularia, Cladiella, Lemnalia, and Litophyton genus‘ due to noxiousness.
- Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Threat
- Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Threat
- Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - May be a threat to small decorative shrimp.
- Starfish: Monitor - May nip at appendages.
- Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor - Only safe with bristle worms, as they will nip at feathery appendages.
- Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Threat
- Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe - Will not ingest enough of these animals to decimate populations.
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
No sexual differences are known.
There has been some success in tank breeding and with tank raised Pomacanthus asfur . Yet successful breeding can only be accomplished in a very large display aquarium. Most home aquarists will not have a tank large enough to encourage spawning with this angelfish.
As with most saltwater fish, they start feeling frisky around dusk. The male Asfur Angelfish will swim around the female quickly, in a circular pattern, then will suddenly swim above her to see if she is ready. Eventually she will feel compelled to swim toward him. He then nuzzles her belly with his nose to trigger her to lay her eggs. At the time she releases the eggs, he will release his sperm. These newly fertilized eggs will float in a planktonic stage for a few weeks. Eventually they will settle at the bottom as fry and start their colorful life apart from their parents.
See Breeding Marine Fish for a description of how they reproduce in the wild.
- Ease of Breeding: Difficult
Arabian Angelfish, like other saltwater angelfish, are prone to any disease that captive saltwater environments have to offer. They are most likely to be affected if they are stressed from inappropriate housing or tank mates, The Crescent Angelfish may suffer from Saltwater Ich or White Spot Disease (Crypt) and other infectious diseases.
White Spot Disease Cryptocaryon irritans, also known as Marine Ich, Saltwater Ich, or Crypt is the most common disease that is generally associated with marine tangs and angelfish. Symptoms of Marine Ick are constant scratching, culminating with lots of white dots. These dots disappear for a few days, only to return with double the number. This results in the fish suffocating from these parasites blocking the gills from providing oxygen.
Another common disease is Marine Velvet or Velvet Disease Oodinium ocellatum, (syn: Amyloodinium ocellatum or Branchiophilus maris), which is a parasitic skin flagellate. Symptoms of Marine Velvet are a peppery coating giving a yellow to light brown "dust" on body, clamped fins, respiratory distress (breathing hard as seen as frequent or quick gill movements), cloudiness of eyes, glancing off decor or substrate, and possible weight loss.
Parasites on marine fish kept with live rock or in any type of reef environment can be extremely difficult to treat. Typical treatments like copper and formalin solutions, as well as quinine based drugs are harmful to other marine creatures. However drugs such as metronidazole provide an effective and safe treatment for several protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases. Metronidazole works by ceasing the growth of bacteria and protozoa. Metronidazole is an antibiotic for anaerobic bacteria with anti-protozoal properties. This drug is reef safe, and medications are either added to the water or mixed with the fish food. Some available products that contain metronidazole include Seachem Metronidazole, Seachem AquaZole, Thomas Laboratories' Fish Zole and National Fish Pharmaceutical's Metro-Pro.
For external parasites you can slowly increasing the temperature of your tank to at least 82° F (28° C). That will prevent the parasite from completing its life cycle which includes the attachment to fish. A further combination of the higher temperatures with medicated food will provide timely relief. The Seachem Metronidazole medications works well in combination with another Seachem product called Focus, which is a bonding agent. This treatment can be used in a reef aquarium since the medication is bound to the food, which even if the corals eat, will not hurt them. Mix Focus in a ratio of 5 to 1 with their Metronidazole (5 parts Focus to one part Metro), then mix this with 1 tablespoon of food. Feed the medicated food to the fish 3 times a day for at least a week or until symptoms are gone.
For more information on diseases that saltwater angelfish are susceptible to, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.
The Arabian Angelfish or Asfur Angelfish is moderately easy to find online and in stores. Most stores will order these fish for you if you are willing to wait.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Pomacanthus asfur Arabian angelfish, Fishbase
- Pomacanthus asfur, IUNC Red List, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
- Helmut Debelius and Rudie H. Kuiter, World Atlas of Marine Fishes, (in German) Hollywood Import & Export, Inc., 2006
- Scott W. Michael, Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes: Reef Fishes Series , Microcosm Ltd, 2004
- Scott W. Michael, Marine Fishes: 500+ Essential-To-Know Aquarium Species, T.F.H Publications inc., 1999
- Mark Allen, Roger Steene and Gerald R. Allen, A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes , Odyssey Publishing, 1998
- Dr. Gerald R. Allen, Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World Volume 2, Aquarium Systems; 3rd edition,1985
- Jim McDavid, Large Angels in the Home Aquariums, Part 1, Advanced Aquarist, Copyright 2003