News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Annularis Angel (12/03/14)

Highly Underrated Fish - Annularis Angel

In the Wild

Pomacanthus annularis is more commonly known as the Blue Ring or Annularis Angel. As juveniles they are found singly and adults can be found singly or in pairs. They live in and around coastal reefs, caves, shipwrecks and similar cover anywhere from a few feet below the surface down to roughly 200 feet deep. Juveniles tend to select the shallower range, adult pairs being more common on the deeper end. They are most common throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific, and some are found on the east coast of Africa, though some say that range is erroneous and based on specimens that were misidentified.

Like pretty much all the other fish in the genus, they feed on a variety of benthic invertebrates, primarily sponges, tunicates, tubeworms etc, but they will also take copepods and other inverts suspended in the water column. Also like other fish in the genus, they undergo a dramatic color change between the juvenile and adult stages. The record size for this fish is just about 13 inches, but are much more commonly seen at eight to ten inches.

In the Aquarium

Annularis Angels are often overlooked for their more flamboyant cousins, which is a shame. These are hardy, gorgeous fish. The are known for being very shy initially, especially juvenile specimens. As they grow into adulthood they can grow into semi aggressive fish, most notably with similarly shaped fish. They can live a very long time, having been kept in captivity for over 15 years by some hobbyists. While they grow to a large adult size, they tend to do so slowly if fed a diet rich in sponge and algal matter (which is suggested). Regardless, of this fact provide lots of swimming space as these are very active fish.

They easily take a variety of food, though there are some reports of very small juveniles and very large adults being initially finicky about processed foods. Feed as many times a day as is possible and feed a good mix of food, making sure to include a solid portion of sponge/algal matter. A good practice for keeping any larger angel fish is to change up the dominant food over time, meaning you should occasionally change up the proportions of your mix. In the wild, individual fish will focus on different foods throughout the year, try to mimic this in your feeding schedule and you'll be rewarded with a robustly healthy, colorful angel.

Keeping Pomacanthus genus fish in reef tanks is a risky proposition. I am sure you've seen photos of them in SPS dominated reef tanks and in very large and very well fed systems, this may work. It is, however, a chance that I wouldn't suggest taking. This is a fish that nibbles on things to see if they are edible, this habit means they are likely to irritate all your corals, sometimes all the way to the demise of the coral.

Aquacultured specimens (photo top right) are being produced on commercial scale in Bali, and are available to retail outlets and public aquariums through us here at Quality Marine. These fish are in robust health and eat just about everything, even when very, very small. They also frequently have aberrant patterns and coloration. If there was ever a Pomacanthus worth trying in a reef tank, these little aquacultured beauties would be the one to try it with.


Allen, Steene, Allen, A guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes, 1st ed. (Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Publications Inc, Australia, 1998).
Debelius, Tanaka, Kuiter, Angelfishes, 1st ed. (TMC Publishing, Chorelywood, UK, 2003).
Endoh, Angelfishes of the World, 1st ed. (Ricordea Publishing, Miami Gardens, FL, 2007).
Scott W. Michael, Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2004).
World Register of Marine Species (WORMS)
In House References:
Eli Fleishauer, Adam Mangino, Brent Robinson