Critter of the Month

Critter of the Month September 2017

Critter Facts

Common name: 

Masked Angelfish

Scientific name: 

Genicanthus personatus

Critter contributor: 

Keoki Stender

One of the world's most sought-after aquarium specimens is the masked angelfish, Genicanthus personatus. Its marble-white body coloration accentuated by a perimeter of color truly gives this fish its angelic appearance. This rarely seen fish is as beautiful as it is expensive, as the last collected pair was listed at $30,000.  You may be wondering where you can spot this exquisite fish. It is common in as little as 25 feet around the northwestern Hawaiian Islands from the south of Kure to French Frigate Shoals. This area is off limits to collectors, though, and strictly enforced.

Locally, the masked angelfish prefers cool water deeper than 200 feet which is at the edge of diving limits. Diver Rufus Kimur, used rebreather technology last December to a depth of 400 feet to collect this species for biologist Karen Brittain, a scientist from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Thanks to Brittain’s efforts through the years, this virtually unobtainable Hawaiian endemic has been successfully spawned in captivity, bringing it at least one step closer to accessibility to aquariums. However, for now, Genicanthus personatus is still one of the highest profile marine aquarium fish in the world.

Contact Us

Department of Biology
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
2450 Campus Road
Dean Hall 105A
Honolulu, HI 96822


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