Majestic Angelfish, Navarchus AngelfishFamily: PomacanthidaePomacanthus navarchusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
This Blue-girdled Angelfish is probably the shyest of angelfish, but one of the most beautiful!
The Blue-girdled Angelfish Pomacanthus navarchus is incredibly attractive. The Pomacanthus genus itself contains the most exotic of the saltwater angelfish and this species, also known as the Majestic Angelfish, is no exception. The adult becomes a striking beauty with a bright yellow to orange body and face, contrasted with intense deep beautiful blues. It's named for its color pattern which suggests a girdled appearance that is strengthened with outlines of vibrant neon blues. Another common name, Navarchus Angelfish, is derived from its scientific description.
The juvenile of this species has the more typical coloring of all the Pomacanthus youth. It is black with light blue curved vertical stripes, but is rarely seen at this stage. At just 2 1/2 - 3" its begins to change color to that of the adult. These angelfish are one of the slowest growers and rarely get up to 10” in captivity. But even though they are not quite as big as other Pomacanthus they still need a larger tank than others of similar size. In the wild this angelfish will hybridize with the Blue-faced Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon, which is a larger fish reaching about 14 3/4" (38 cm) in length, so crosses could be bigger.
Of all the species in the Pomacanthidae family, this angelfish is probably the shyest. It needs several “caves” to dart into to help it adjust when first acquired. When added as a new addition to an established aquarium it is painfully shy, which can be a problem when trying to feed it. This is not the case with others from their genus, which makes them unique. Buying a younger specimen is suggested as they can adapt to captive care much better than a full grown adult.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish is suggest for the advanced aquarist. It is considered difficult because of the need for excellent water quality, moderate to high lighting, and a larger tank of at least 100 gallons to properly house it. With the proper aquarium parameters met they are moderately difficult. Feed live foods such as mysis or gut loaded brine shrimp to entice them to eat. It need lots of hiding places and naturally growing foods such as sponge, tunicate and algae within a mature, established tank. Provide moderate light and locate the tank in an area where there is not too much foot traffic. This angelfish will swim in all levels of the tank the more comfortable it becomes and will reward the aquarist with a long life if the necessary requirements are met.
Although this fish is shy, as with any angelfish, it does not tolerate most other angels unless it is the opposite sex of its same species. It is easy going with other fish and seems to do well with dwarf angelfish as well as tangs. It is also good with smaller docile fish that other Pomacanthus angels will pick on, making it great for the community tank.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish is usually one of the first Pomacanthus to run across a reef keepers mind as a possible inhabitant to try with their corals. They seem to stay away from noxious soft corals, anemones, zoanthids and small polyp stony corals (SPS). Although they may nip at the oral disc of large anemones, they are simply trying to get at the waste the anemone is expelling and shouldn't cause lasting damage, especially if there is a clownfish helping to protect it. Some say to make sure they are well fed, and then they will not bother corals. This may be true as juveniles, but may not hold true for adults. Each Angelfish has its own idea of what “dinner” may be, and some may still pick at them. Also the need for water superior quality for the angelfish, well as that of corals, would be compromised if they are fed too much.
For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium
Majestic Angel Information Blue Girdled Angelfish (Pomacanthus navarchus)
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Video of a newly obtained Girdled Angelfish with good information.
A great video with appropriate information. The tank mates are well chosen and has been housed in a good sized tank. Although 100 gallons is stated as minimum, greater success can be achieved with a tank of 180 gallons, with a lot of natural foods growing on the rocks such as algae, tunicates and sponges. Either way a MATURE tank is needed so your Blue Girdled Angelfish has a stable environment supplying plenty of food.
- Size of fish - inches: 11.8 inches (29.97 cm)
- Aquarium Hardiness: Difficult
- Range ph: 8.1-8.4
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 100 gal (379 L)
- Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
The Blue-girdled Angelfish Pomacanthus navarchus is also known as the Majestic Angelfish and Navarchus Angelfish. It is from the Pomacanthidae family, and was first described by Cuvier in 1831. 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.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish is found in pairs at times on the reef, but usually it is solitary. Juveniles are found singly and are very secretive. They inhabit very shallow inshore caves where algae is growing. Adults inhabit areas with heavy coral growth such as clear lagoons, protected outer reef slopes, and channels, yet never too far from a cave. Sponges and tunicates are their main food. Adults are found at depths from 10 to 131 feet (3 to 40 m).
In the wild they will hybridize with the Bluefaced Angelfish or Yellowfaced Angelfish Pomacanthus xanthometopon. As of yet, breeding in captivity is not possible and tank raising these angels has not been successful.
- Scientific Name: Pomacanthus navarchus
- Social Grouping: Pairs - Usually it is solitary as a juvenile, but at times it is found in pairs on the reef.
- IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern - Stable population.
The adult Blue-girdled Angelfish or Majestic Angelfish will have bright yellow on their sides and back, including the dorsal and tail fin. There are bright blue spots within the yellow on their sides, but just a hint. An intense and deep beautiful blue is found on the head; the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins; as well as an area just in front of the tail fin. This angelfish looks as if someone took a bright light blue neon pen and outlined it’s entire body and fins, including areas where the yellow and blue meet up. They also have a blue mouth, and yellow on the chin and neck that terminates just over the pelvic fins.
The juveniles are black with light blue curved vertical stripes on their sides and at times the yellowish tint can show through. At 3 - 7.8 inches (7.6 - 20 cm) the juvenile Blue-girdled Angelfish begins its color change to the beautiful majestic adult. Interestingly, the stage between juvenile and adult is rarely seen.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish can grow up to 11.8” (30 cm) in the wild, yet in captivity this slow grower will rarely reach 10” (25 cm). This Angelfish has a lifespan of over 21 years in captivity.
- Size of fish - inches: 11.8 inches (29.97 cm) - In captivity it is a slow grower and will rarely reach 10” (25 cm).
- Lifespan: 21 years - Lifespan of over 21 years in captivity.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish or Majestic Angelfish are considered moderately hard to advanced in difficulty because of the excellent water quality that is needed, along with high reef-type lighting and a large tank to properly house this fish. If a tank of 100 gallons or more with numerous caves can be provided, this can lower stress levels.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Difficult - Can be difficult since water parameters need to be perfect. Moderately difficult in a large reef-like established tank with good lighting.
- Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
Blue-girdled Angelfish are omnivores, in the wild, a wide variety of sponges and tunicates are their main food. 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.
If a Majestic Angelfish is not eating, try live brine shrimp which you can gut load with nutritious food. You can also try frozen mysis, red macro algae attached to a rock, or clams. Be sure to remove any uneaten clam quickly.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Yes - Best with sponge material included, and color enhancing foods are also helpful.
- Tablet Pellet: Yes - Best with marine 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: Some of Diet
- Meaty Food: Some of Diet - Prepared foods with marine sponge is essential.
- Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Feed 3 or more times a day in small amounts.
In general, Pomacanthus angelfish are not as forgiving as many other fish when it comes to water quality. The Blue-girdled Angelfish is even less forgiving than 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 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 - Water changes of 15% bi-weekly or 30% once a month. If there are corals in the tank, then 10% every 2 weeks or 20% e every month.
The Blue-girdled Angelfish, like other large angels, needs a stable environment which is at least 6 months old. A minimum size of at least 100 gallons (378 l) is needed for an adult, and 135 gallons (511 liters) for a pair. Provide Water parameters of: 72-82° F, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025.
It is best to introduce it last as a young fish into an established, well lit tank. 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. A reef like environment is best. Even a fish only with live rock (FOWL) aquarium is good and there is no need to absolutely have corals. Blue-girdled Angelfish need decent reef-like lighting or they can develop HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion Disease).
- Minimum Tank Size: 100 gal (379 L) - At least 100 gallons is needed for one, and 180 gallons (681 liters) for a known male and female pair.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: No
- Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places - They like to have many crevices to hide in, and live rock needs to have plenty of sponge and algae growing on it.
- Substrate Type: Any
- Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - They need light for health reasons as well as a source for the algae to grow under.
- 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: Any - No special requirements, it can tolerate a rather stronger flow but slow-moving water is preferable.
- Water Region: All - hey will spend time in all parts of the aquarium
The Blue-girdled Angelfish is semi-aggressive. Although it initially very shy, once it becomes established it becomes aggressive towards other similarly shaped fish that are introduced later than it was. Unlike some of its close relatives, it is easy going with other fish and does not bother smaller fish at all. But as with any angelfish, it does not tolerate most other angels unless it is the opposite sex of its same species.
In a reef environment they seem to stay away from noxious soft corals. They may be fine with Small Polyp Stony Corals (SPS), anemones, zoanthids and Tridacnid clams, yet each angelfish has its own idea of what “dinner” may be. Some may still pick at them. They may be a threat to small decorative shrimp as well.
- Venomous: No
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive - They are more peaceful than other Pomacanthus.
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - Only as a male and female mated pair in a tank of at least 180 gallons.
- Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Safe
- Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe
- Aggressive (dottybacks, 6-line & 8-line wrasse, damselfish): Monitor
- Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Monitor - As with most angelfish, it does not tolerate most other angels, it also becomes aggressive with similar shaped fish. The key is not to stress them out.
- Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Safe
- Slow Swimmers & Eaters (seahorses, pipefish, mandarins): Threat - They are too aggressive in feeding to be put with seahorses or pipefish.
- Anemones: Safe - Nipping at the oral disc is usually to get at the waste the anemone is expelling. A clownfish added to guard the anemone will deter this from happening too often.
- Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Safe
- LPS corals: Threat
- SPS corals: Monitor - These fish seem to do okay with SPS, but monitor for nipping.
- Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Threat
- Leather Corals: Safe - They seem to stay away from noxious soft corals.
- Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Monitor
- Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Monitor
- Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Monitor
- Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - May be a threat to small decorative shrimp like Sexy Shrimp.
- Starfish: Monitor - They may nip at appendages if not well fed or out of curiosity.
- Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor - They may nip at Feather Dusters if not well fed or out of curiosity.
- Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Monitor - Keep an eye out for clams staying closed or not opening fully, as this would be an indication of nipping.
- Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe
No sexual differences are known. One aquarist said to have introduced a new Blue-girdled Angelfish to his established Bluegirdled along with an egg grate made into a basket. In this situation, watching the response of the established Angelfish generally gives an idea of whether or not they are a male and female.
As of yet, breeding the Majestic Angelfish in captivity is not possible and tank raising these angels has not been successful. Similar to other Pomacanthus , the Blue-girdled will spawn at dusk. The male Blue-girdled 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. Although this activity can be seen in a 180 gallon or larger tank, the larvae has never survived.
See Breeding Marine Fish for a description of how they reproduce in the wild.
- Ease of Breeding: Difficult - Not possible at this time
Blue-girdled 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. This 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-girdled Angelfish or Majestic Angelfish is moderately easy to find online and in stores.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Pomacanthus navarchus (Cuvier, 1831) Bluegirdled angelfish, Fishbase
- Pomacanthus navarchus, 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
- Gregory Schiemer, Aquarium Fish: Pomacanthus navarchus - The Majestic Angelfish, Advanced Aquarist, Copyright 2003