Yellow-faced Angelfish, Yellow Mask AngelfishFamily: PomacanthidaePomacanthus xanthometoponPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
The Blue-faced Angelfish is one of the most beautiful angelfish in the ocean, making any artist envious!
The Blue-faced Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon is a gorgeous fish. Although it grows to a length of about 14 3/4 inches (38 cm) its colors are dynamic and so creative! Each scale on its body is a deep blue, trimmed in yellowish green, creating an intricate lattice work. The bright yellow dorsal fin has a deep blue dot, while the deep blue face has a bright yellow or orange mask. The chin area and pectoral fin are also bright yellow or orange, providing a sharp contrast between its head and body. It is also known by the common names Yellowfaced Angelfish, and Yellow Mask Angelfish.
All in all this colorful, highly contrasted beauty makes a prize showpiece in the saltwater aquarium. It is hard to confuse this insanely gorgeous angelfish with any other. They are not as aggressive as others in the Pomacanthus genus but unfortunately they are not as hardy either. Being less adaptive than others in their genus, they are a rather hard fish to keep so are suggested for an intermediate or more experienced aquarist. Tank size is very important to keep them healthy. They will need a very large tank, a juvenile can start out in a 125 gallon aquarium, but as adults they really need at least 225 to 275 gallons (852 to 1041 l). With the proper setup it is possible to keep them for a long time, they have been reported to have a lifespan of over 21 year in captivity.
These angelfish are more prone to stress than other fish of the same size when not provided with a large amount of swimming room. Stress results in a lack of proper adult coloration and shorter life span. It is suggested that you buy a specimen between that is under 8” as larger angelfish have a harder time adjusting and the mortality rate is higher. Make sure the tank is at least 6 months old with plenty of live rock. With their shy nature they need several hiding areas to feel secure, so provide rocks with cave type formations as places of refuge and comfort. A well established tank with plenty of naturally growing sponges and algae will also help them to adjust. They will swim in all areas of the tank, so provide open areas and various water movements throughout the tank.
Although the Blue-faced Angelfish is not as contentious as other Pomacanthus, it is still not the shyest of fish. It will not get along with other angelfish and it will go after smaller peaceful fish like blennies, clownfish, etc. Adding this angelfish last is the best choice, unless housing with other large angelfish. In that case, allow them to be well adjusted before adding other fish. A mated pair will need a very large 250 -300 gallon tank. They form lasting pairs in the wild, and display a "happy" dance when they reunite with their mates after being separated for some time. They actually make grunting noises when they are upset.
This angelfish is not considered 100% reef safe. They will snack on zoanthids, tridacnid clams, large polyp stony corals (LPS), and some soft corals. Even small polyp stony corals (SPS) are not always safe from these coral carnivores. Aquarists have had success with the more noxious soft corals and with mushroom anemones. Anemones should be left alone, except for occasional nipping of the oral disc that having a resident clownfish can remedy. nvertebrates such as snails, crabs, and large shrimp should be okay, with the exception of starfish, who may be nipped at if fish is not well fed. Some say to make sure they are well fed, then they will not bother corals. This may be true as juveniles, but not adults, the need for excellent water quality when keeping corals, denies overfeeding.
For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium
Blue Face Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon
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Blue Face Angelfish video
Video of adult Bluefaced Angelfish with close up video of face and backside. They are more peaceful than other Poms but will still go after smaller peaceful fish. They are not reef safe and will snack on more corals. They grow to 15" and need a minimum tank of 125 gallons, but 225 gallons is best before they are adults. They will live over 21 years in captivity and will eat most prepared foods.
- Size of fish - inches: 15.0 inches (38.00 cm)
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
- Range ph: 8.1-8.4
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 125 gal (473 L)
- Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
The Blue-faced Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon is also known as the Yellowfaced Angelfish and Yellow Mask Angelfish. It is from the Pomacanthidae family, and was first described by Bleeker in 1853. It is found in the Indo Pacific Ocean from Maldives to Vanuatu then northward to the Yaeyama Islands and it is also found in Palau and Krosae in Micronesia. It is on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC), with a stable population. Other common names it is known by include Yellowfaced Angelfish, Yellow Mask Angelfish, Blue Face Angelfish, and Bluefaced Angelfish.
The Bluefaced Angel is solitary as a juvenile, and as an adult is generally singly or sometimes as pairs. As a juvenile it will inhabit very shallow inshore caves where algae is growing. Adults love the dense reefs in lagoons, channels and outer reef slopes, and are especially fond of caves in those areas. When upset, adults will make a grunting sound. The depths they are found at is 16 to 146 feet (5 to 45 m). Sponges and other encrusting animals are their preferred fare.
In the wild they will hybridize with the Sixbar Angelfish or Sixbanded Angelfish Pomacanthus sexstriatus and with the Blue-girdled Angelfish or Majestic Angelfish Pomacanthus navarchus . As of yet, breeding in captivity is not possible and tank raising these angels has not been successful.
- Scientific Name: Pomacanthus xanthometopon
- Social Grouping: Varies - Juveniles are found alone, adults are found as pairs.
- IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern - Stable population
The adult Bluefaced Angelfish or Yellowfaced Angelfish has scales that are bright blue, outlined in yellow. The dorsal fin is yellow with a blue dot near the tail fin. Depending on the location where it is found, colored areas of the fish are yellow or orange, but not mixed. The tail fin is either orange or yellow, also depending on origin.
The anal and pelvic fin are clearish yellow with a bright blue outline on the lower part of each fin. The pectoral fin is either orange or yellow with blue outlining the top and this color moves into the chest area and also outlines the eyes. The face is also bright blue, and starts at the mouth, or the front of the fish, and continues to just in front of the gills. The bright blue starts just above the eyes and then down to the chin.
The juvenile looks an awful lot like the Arabian Angelfish or Asfur Angelfish Pomacanthus asfur , but there are several differences. Both have bright blue, black, light blue and white stripes, but the Blueface differs in that its stripes seem to extend into the fins. Whereas the Asfur’s stripes seems to stop at the base of the body, before the fins start.
Blue-faced Angelfish (juvenile) Photo © Animal-World:
Courtesy Hiroyuki Tanak
Striping into the tail fin can be seen on the Blueface but is absent with the Asfur Angelfish, and the Asfur's tail also has yellow at the base. Another difference is that the Blueface juvenile’s white stripes are uniform and all curve backward where the Asfur juvenile’s white stripes can curve toward the front or back or can be straight and there are less of them. They begin to transform into their adult coloration at 2.7 to 4.7 inches (7 - 12 cm).
This large Pomacanthus can grow up to 15” (40 cm) in the wild, and will reach their full size in captivity if given ample room. They have been known to have a lifespan of over 21 years in captivity. Marine angelfishl have a general lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
- Size of fish - inches: 15.0 inches (38.00 cm)
- Lifespan: 21 years - Can live over 21 years in captivity.
The Blue-faced Angelfish is moderately hard to advanced in difficulty. Young specimens under 8 inches (20 cm) seem to adapt better to aquarium life than adults. Good water quality is needed along with a large tank to properly house this fish. If a tank of 225 gallons or more can be provided, then they would be considered moderately hardy as adults. This large aquarium size encourages lower stress levels because it provides adequate swimming room. These angels also do not do well amidst constant commotion. They will hide if they feel insecure or threatened, eventually getting ill and die.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy - Moderately Hardy with a large tank. Obtain fish that is 2.5 - 6" for best results.
- Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
The Blue-faced Angelfish are omnivores, in the wild they eat a wide variety of sponges and other encrusting animals. 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 is essential. A good formula that can be made at home consists of mussels, shrimp, squid, and spinach. Many foods offer color enhancing qualities, which are helpful. Feed 3 or more times a day.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Yes - With sponge material included, and color enhancing foods are also helpful.
- Tablet Pellet: Yes - They need sponge material in their prepared foods.
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet - Can be used to initiate feeding response, but only needed as a treat after acclimated.
- Vegetable Food: Most of Diet - Sponge material is just as important as veggies in their diet.
- Meaty Food: Some of Diet
- Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day
In general, Pomacanthus angelfish are not as forgiving as some other fish when it comes to water quality, and the Bluefaced Angel is not as forgiving as some of the other Pomacanthus. Water quality must be high, almost similar to corals. 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 larger tank is important for this large fish. Because it needs a lot of food, there is a large bio-load on the aquarium. A smaller tank will foul quickly.
- Water Changes: 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 Blue-faced Angelfish, like other large angels, need a stable and established tank which is at least 6 months old with sponge, tunicate and algae growth. A minimum size of at least 220 to 275 gallons (832 to 1041 l) is needed for an adult, 125 gallons (473 liters) is adequate for a juvenile. Juveniles should be moved to the larger tank at 8" and purchase size should be 2.5" to 6" for best results. If housed with other large angelfish, the Bluefaced Angelfish should be established and eating first. Rearrange rockwork when adding another angelfish that is not the same color or size, and make sure tank is 250 - 300 gallons minimum (932 - 1,135 liters).
These angels enjoy large amounts of rock work to graze on and to hide in, so arrange them in a way that your angel can “hide” from what it deems threatening both inside the tank and outside, like heavy footsteps or other commotion around the tank. Proper tank size is needed for the Bluefaced Angelfish to obtain proper color and size.
- Minimum Tank Size: 125 gal (473 L) - 125 gallons (473 liters) is adequate for a juvenile. At least 220 to 275 gallons (832 to 1041 l) is needed for an adult.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: No
- Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places - Live rock should be established with plenty of sponge, tunicate and algae growth on it.
- Substrate Type: Any
- Lighting Needs: Any - It is best kept under normal lighting, but can also be kept in sunlight conditions or in a dimly lit tank.
- Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
- Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
- Range ph: 8.1-8.4 - A ph of 8.0 or lower will cause health problems.
- Brackish: No
- Water Movement: Moderate - They 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 so provide some open areas for them to swim.
The Bluefaced Angelfish, though semi-aggressive, is rather shy when first introduced to the aquarium. But as it becomes more comfortable it will become bolder. It is less aggressive than other Pomacanthus but will harass smaller fish like gobies, clownfish and blennies and more peaceful tankmates if the aquarium is cramped. It cannot be kept with its same species and may harrass other smaller angelfish. It will not tolerate other angelfish and will become aggressive in the presence of another angelfish. It should be the last fish you introduce into the tank due to their territorial disposition. Slower moving sharks and stingray, especially their eyes, may be picked by larger angelfish.
This angelfish is pretty easy to keep with peaceful smaller fish as long as the tank is properly sized. It would not be wise to expose your Bluefaced Angelfish to more aggressive angelfish since they will eventually start to wither and not eat, then will start contract disease and ailments from the stress. It may be wise to make your Blueface the centerpiece of your aquarium!
As juveniles In a reef environment they may be fine, but adults have a tendency to pick at many corals and certain invertebrates. Most will do fine with more toxic corals from the Sinularia, Cladiella, Lemnalia and Litophyton genera, and will generally leave mushroom anemones and anemones alone. Anemones, however, may have their oral discs picked at, which can be solved with a resident. Some have kept the Bluefaced Angelfish with small polyped stony (SPS) corals, but still monitor and try coral species that are not native to where the angelfish is from. The corals that are typically picked on are large polyp stony (LPS) corals, zoanthids and other polyp corals, along with Tridacnid clams and other similar invertebrates. Feather dusters and seastars may be nipped at if the angelfish is not well fed, but other inverts like large cleaner shrimp, snails and crabs should be fine.
- Venomous: No
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - Can be kept as mated male/female pair in very large tank of 250-300 gallons.
- Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Safe - Blueface Angelfish will be fine with these fish if tank is proper size. Juveniles on the other hand, may chase and pester these fish too much.
- Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Monitor - Blueface Angelfish will be fine with these fish if tank is proper size. Juveniles on the other hand, may chase and pester these fish too much.
- Aggressive (dottybacks, 6-line & 8-line wrasse, damselfish): Safe
- Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Safe
- Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Monitor - Slower moving sharks and stingray, may be harmed.
- Slow Swimmers & Eaters (seahorses, pipefish, mandarins): Threat - Angelfish will out compete them for food.
- Anemones: Safe - Safe with a clownfish host.
- Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Safe
- LPS corals: Threat
- SPS corals: Monitor - Depending on the individual, may or may not bother small polyp stony corals (SPS).
- Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Threat
- Leather Corals: Monitor - Usually safe with corals from the Sinularia, Cladiella, Lemnalia, and Litophyton genus.'
- Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Monitor
- Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Threat
- Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Threat
- Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - Only very small shrimp like Sexy Shrimp may be in danger.
- Starfish: Monitor - May nip at appendages if not well fed.
- Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor - Feather dusters may be nipped at if fish is not well fed.
- Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Threat
- Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
Sexual differences are unknown.
As of yet, breeding the Bluefaced Angelfish or Yellowfaced Angelfish in captivity is not possible and tank raising these angels has not been successful.
Similar to other Pomacanthus, the Blueface will spawn at dusk. The male Blueface Angelfish will swim around the female quickly, in a circular pattern, then will swim above her. Eventually, she will feel compelled to swim toward him, and he will then nuzzle her belly with his nose to trigger her to lay her eggs. At the time she releases the eggs, he releases his sperm and these newly fertilized eggs will float in a planktonic stage for a few weeks before turning into fry, and then into the juvenile stage..
See Breeding Marine Fish for more on how they reproduce in the wild.
- Ease of Breeding: Difficult
Providing an angelfish with clean water, a proper decor with places to hide, and regular feeding is the best way to prevent illness. Calm angelfish are healthy fish. If not stressed, they will have a stronger immune system to prevent infections. Still saltwater angelfish can suffer any disease that captive saltwater environments have to offer. Blue-faced 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 Blue-faced Angelfish or Yellowfaced Angelfish is moderately easy to find online and in stores, but rather expensive.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Pomacanthus xanthometopon Yellowface angelfish, Fishbase
- Pomacanthus xanthometopon, 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, Pomacanthus Publications
- Jim McDavid, Large Angels in the Home Aquariums, Part 2, Advanced Aquarist, Pomacanthus Publications