Masked Angelfish

G. personatus

Last updated: May 23, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit

All masked angelfish are female until sometime after sexual maturity, at which point some become male.

Masked Angelfish Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Perciformes
Family
Pomacanthidae
Genus
Genicanthus
Scientific Name
G. personatus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Masked Angelfish Conservation Status

Masked Angelfish Locations

Masked Angelfish Locations

Masked Angelfish Facts

Prey
algae, plankton, roe (fish eggs)
Fun Fact
All masked angelfish are female until sometime after sexual maturity, at which point some become male.
Biggest Threat
None
Most Distinctive Feature
Black “mask” around the eyes (females only)
Distinctive Feature
Their bright white color
Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Masked Angelfish
Number Of Species
1

Masked Angelfish Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
Scales
Height
2 inches

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The masked angelfish is a type of marine fish.

It is a ray-finned fish, endemic to the coastal reefs around Hawaii, their only location. All masked angelfish are born female, as is common in several other fish species. Once masked angelfish reach a certain age and size, the more dominant fish will become male and some of their fins will elongate. They are not common in the aquarium trade, but they are occasionally kept as pets. Breeding attempts in captivity have recently been successful, so their rarity in the hobbyist world may soon change.

5 Masked Angelfish Facts

  • Masked angelfish are sequential protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning some change their sex from female to male upon reaching sexual maturity.
  • A masked angelfish price can be between $16,000 to $20,000!
  • Male masked angelfish are only black on their tails, while female Genicanthus Personatus are only yellow on their bottom fins.
  • Because these white angelfish live at such depths, very little is known about the lifecycle of the masked angelfish.
  • Rarely can divers catch more than two masked angelfish in a single year and often they can’t catch any.

Classification and Scientific Name

The scientific name for the masked angelfish is Genicanthus personatus. Genicanthus simply refers to their species of angelfish, while personatus means masked. Though there are many species of angelfish, the masked angelfish is among one of the rarer breeds, since they only live in a single location.

Masked Angelfish: Appearance

Adult masked angelfish are predominantly bright white all over their bodies. Juvenile masked angelfish have black over most of their heads, but this color slowly fades and disappears as they age. Eventually, the black portion of the female’s coloring is reduced down to only a small patch or “mask” around their eyes and possibly around their mouths, and a black stripe on their tail. The fins on the bottom of their bodies are yellow to yellow-orange in color and are brighter in male masked angelfish than in females. A male’s mask is also yellowish orange as are all their fins. Male masked angelfish have solid black tails except for the long, thin tips, which are yellow.

A masked angelfish
Masked angelfish are all born female but some change to male when they reach sexual maturity!

Distribution, Population and Habitat

Masked angelfish are found solely in Hawaii. Though they are rarely caught, they are not endangered. They range primarily around the northwest islands of Hawaii, such as Oahu. The preferred swimming depth of a masked angelfish is around 300 feet, a location beyond the limits of most divers. Masked angelfish live among the coral reefs. The masked angelfish was last assessed for The IUCN Red List in 2009 and was at that time listed as Least Concern (LC). The depth at which they live and the availability of their diet combined with the difficulty for humans to reach them, provide the masked angelfish with more protection than many other species. They also have a curved spine near their gills, making them a hard target for predators.

Masked Angelfish: Predators and Prey

Masked angelfish eat zooplankton, green algae, and sometimes the roe of other fish species. They are prey for larger fish species and for marine mammals, but the spiky barbs located on their faces deter many predators from attacking them.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Breeding in captivity has only been achieved within the last decade or so. Though a masked angelfish that is well cared for can live up to six years, the average lifespan for a captive masked angelfish is only about two years. Females release eggs which are then fertilized in the water by the male Genicanthus personatus. The eggs will attach to rocks or coral or other substrate and will be guarded by both of the parents until they hatch.

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Masked Angelfish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much is a masked angelfish?

A masked angelfish sells for up to $20,000. This price is because of their rarity.

How long do masked angelfish get?

Masked angelfish reach a maximum length of about eight to eight and a half inches.

Where can I find masked angelfish?

A Genicanthus personatus can most often be found at depths of 300 feet, off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

What do masked angelfish eat?

These omnivorous angelfish eat a specific type of green algae, some kinds of plankton, and the roe of other species of fish.

How long do masked angelfish live?

The lifespan of a masked angelfish is only about two years in captivity, though they may live up to six years.

Sources
  1. Reefs, Available here: https://reefs.com/magazine/genicanthus-personatus-the-masked-angelfish/
  2. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genicanthus_personatus
  3. Tropical Fishkeeping, Available here: https://tropical-fish-keeping.com/masked-angelfish-genicanthus-personatus.html
  4. Marine Collectors, Available here: https://www.marinecollectors.com/pages/personatus-angelfish
  5. Waikiki Aquarium, Available here: https://www.waikikiaquarium.org/experience/animal-guide/fishes/angelfishes/masked-anglefish/
  6. Reefland, Available here: http://www.reefland.com/2013/03/18/the-beautiful-and-rare-masked-angel-fish/
  7. Algae Barn, Available here: https://www.algaebarn.com/blog/captive-bred-fish/angelfish/3-most-expensive-saltwater-fish/
  8. Reef Builders, Available here: https://reefbuilders.com/2018/11/13/first-wild-bandit-angelfish-collected-in-five-years-comes-to-u-s/
  9. Among The Reef, Available here: https://amongthereef.com/products/personatus-angelfish
  10. Fish Base, Available here: https://www.fishbase.de/summary/Genicanthus-personatus
  11. Coral Realm, Available here: https://www.coralrealm.com/masked-angelfish/
  12. Amazing Animals Planet, Available here: https://amazing-animals-planet.com/post/what-is-a-masked-angelfish
  13. Mem Fish, Available here: https://memfish.net/masked-angelfish/

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