The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Pomacanthus asfur
Pomacanthus asfur
(Arabian angel)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Pomacanthus asfur (Forsskål, 1775)

Common name: Arabian angel

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification:  The body of the adult Arabian angelfish is dark overall with a broad, vertical yellow marking along the middle of the body that resembles a crescent.  The dorsal and anal fins are dark and end in filaments that extend beyond the caudal fin; the caudal fin is solid yellow.  Juvenile Arabian angelfish look distinctly different from the adults.  The body of juveniles is blue-black with a series of narrow white and pale-blue bars; there are usually three distinct white bars.  Grows to 40 cm TL.  Dorsal fin XII (19-20); anal fin III (18-20); pectoral rays 17 or 18.  From Randall (1983) and Allen et al. (1998).

Similar species: The rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) has a yellow head and tail with black body.  Juvenile queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) and blue angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis) have bright blue body bars. Juvenile French angelfish (Holacanthus paru) and gray angelfish (Holacanthus arcuatus) have bright yellow body bars on black body.

Size: 40.0 cm TL.

Native Range: Western Indian Ocean, from the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden south to Zanzibar (Randall 1983, Allen et al. 1998).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In Florida, this species has been observed/photographed near Boca Raton (in 1995 and 2002 [Courtenay 1995, REEF 2008]) and off Dania Beach (in 2001 [Semmens et. al 2004, REEF 2008]).  One individual was observed at each sighting.

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Pomacanthus asfur are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL199520021Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 6/18/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: In their native habitat, Arabian angelfish live along shallow (3 to 15 m depth), protected shoreline reefs with a mix of hard and soft corals.  The species has been noted as shy, and not easy to approach.  Generally it is observed near caves or crevices along the reef, and rarely ventures far from these refugia.  Feeds primarily on sponges and tunicates.  From Allen et al. (1998).

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.

Status: Reported in Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

References: (click for full references)

Allen, G. R., R. Steene and M. Allen.  1998.  A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes.  Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research, Perth.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1995. Marine fish introductions in southeastern Florida. Newsletter of the Introduced Fish Section, American Fisheries Society 14: 2-3.

Randall, J. E.  1983.  Red Sea Fishes.  IMMEL Publishing, London.

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).  2008.  Exotic species sighting programs and volunteer database. World wide web electronic publication. www.reef.org, date of download March 10, 2008.

Semmens, B. X., E. R. Buhle, A. K. Salomon and C. V. Pattengill-Semmens. 2004. A hotspot of non-native marine fishes: Evidence for the aquarium trade as an invasion pathway. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 266: 239-244.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 3/23/2021

Peer Review Date: 4/24/2009

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2024, Pomacanthus asfur (Forsskål, 1775): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=877, Revision Date: 3/23/2021, Peer Review Date: 4/24/2009, Access Date: 6/18/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/18/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.