Pomacanthus Sexstriatus – Sixbar Angelfish
Pomacanthus sexstriatus was officially described by Cuvier in 1831. The genus name Pomacanthus can be broken down into two ancient Greek words. Poma means lid and akantha means thorn. A reference to the presence of a clearly visible spine that protrudes from the gill cover. The species name sexstriatus means Six Stripes. Their common name is, therefore, Sixbar Angelfish. Other common names or spellings are Sixband Angelfish, Sixbanded Angelfish, Six-banded Angelfish, Six-banded Angel-fish.
Pomacanthus sexstriatus is part of the family Pomacanthidae or the Marine Angelfish. This family has eight genera and about 90 species. They are closely related to the Butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). Angelfish have a thorny spine on their gill cover, which is missing from the Butterflyfishes.
Sixbar Angelfish can reach a total length of about 46 centimetres. In captivity, they often remain somewhat smaller and rarely reach a length of more than 30 centimetres. The colour of the fish depends on their age.
Juveniles have a black body. A few thin blue lines run over the head. Behind the eye, you can see a number of vertical semicircular white lines. These white lines turn blue towards the back and belly. The pectoral, anal and dorsal fins are trimmed with the same blue colour. The juvenile dress slowly changes to the adult colours when they are between 8 and 15 centimetres long.
Adults have a light ground colour, which tends to be slightly creamy. The head is black with a single vertical white stripe behind the eye. On the flank, you see five vertical dark stripes on the cream-coloured background. Small dark dots are visible between the stripes. The pectoral and ventral fins are dark in colour. The tip of the back and anal fin shows some blue. The caudal fin is completely blue with some light blue dots.
The Sixbar Angelfish always starts her life as a female. It is a so-called sequential hermaphrodite. Once mature, the fish form pairs that stay together for life. When a male is needed, one of the females turns into a male. In this way, there are always enough males and females available. The colour does not show the difference between male and female. They look identical.
When you hear grunting noises coming from your aquarium, it’s time to look at your Pomacanthus sexstriatus. They can make grunting sounds. They mainly do this when they feel threatened.
The distribution area of Pomacanthus sexstriatus is located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. From the lower tip of India to the east along the coast to the south of Japan and down to the west of Australia and towards the Solomon Islands to the east.
They occur in areas where a lot of coral grows. So on reefs, lagoons with mainly clear water. They live at depths of about 3 to 60 meters.
In the aquarium, you can feed Pomacanthus sexstriatus with, for example, Spirulina, nori, small invertebrates such as Krill, Mysis, Brine shrimp, small crabs and sponges.
As a juvenile, this species is reef safe. However, adults are not. They sometimes like to nibble on coral (LPS, SPS and soft coral), tubeworms and giant clams are not safe. Especially Zoanthus are eaten first.
Juveniles need food several times a day. Preferably less meat-like food and some more food that contains vegetable parts.
With a maximum length of 46 centimetres, it is understandable that Pomacanthus sexstriatus needs a large aquarium. We recommend that you try to keep them in an aquarium from 1500 litres. Only place them in a well-established aquarium. This allows them to graze on the algae growing on the rocks.
The Sixbar Angelfish is a difficult to keep Angelfish. They have a hard time getting used to the food. It is not uncommon for them not to eat at all for the first week after being placed. They are also quite shy. You have the best chance of keeping them successful if you start with a young specimen.
As mentioned, this species is not Reef safe. They are usually placed only in a well-established fish only aquarium. Provide more than enough living rock between which holes and crevices are made.
If you want to keep them together with coral, you have the best chance if you start with a juvenile and feed it regularly. The best chance is with SPS coral, hammer coral, bubble coral and disc anemones.
In the aquarium, Pomacanthus sexstriatus can sometimes be a bit aggressive. Especially to species that look about the same or to other Angelfish. Preferably choose tank mates who have a slightly different size when purchasing.
Preferably keep the Sixbar Angelfish solitary or in a pair. This is most successful if you start with two juveniles. When they grow up together, one of them will turn into a male.
Pay attention when catching Angelfish. They have a very sharp thorn on their gill cover. This is not only sharp but can also become entangled in a net if you catch the fish with it.
John de Lange