Pomacanthus paru is one of the 13 members belonging to the genus Pomacanthus, which together with 7 additional genera make up the family of angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) in which a total of 89 species are currently described. It is a relatively common species along the western coasts of the Atlantic Ocean (from New York to Brazil, being present throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea), where it inhabits depths of up to 100 meters on coral reefs.
The body of Pomacanthus paru is tall, practically circular in shape and laterally compressed. It has a short snout in which we will find a terminal mouth of small size. In the angle of the preoperculum we will find a large spine. The dorsal fin is unique and consists of 10 spines and 29-31 soft rays, while the anal fin has 3 spines and 22-24 soft rays. Both the anterior margin of the soft ray region of the dorsal and anal fins extend into filaments that in adult specimens extend beyond the posterior edge of the caudal fin. After these filaments, both fins continue in a convex shape to the caudal peduncle. The pectoral fins have 19-20 soft rays, the pelvic fins extend behind the spines of the anal fin and the caudal fin is rounded in juveniles and convex in adults.
Adult specimens of Pomacanthus paru have black body and fins, with scales behind the nape of the neck and the abdomen with golden yellow edges. The head region is of blue-grayish color, with the area of the jaws and mouth white. Surrounding the eyes we observe a yellow ring, whose lower edge has a blue line. Moving behind the head, we find at the base of the pectoral fins, a wide yellow-orange stripe. Finally, the dorsal fin filament is also yellow-orange. Unlike adult specimens, juvenile specimens of Pomacanthus paru have a very distinct coloration. While maintaining the black color of the body and fins, with the edges of the scales in this case of a paler yellow color, juvenile specimens are characterized by 5 pale yellow stripes along the body that run from the upper edge of the body to the bottom. The first of these is located behind the mouth and the second behind the eyes, both stripes being practically vertical. The third stripe is located behind the pectoral fins, and in this case the stripe is arched, starting at the dorsal fin filament and running down to the belly. The fourth stripe is located in the posterior third of the dorsal fin and runs to the center of the posterior third of the anal fin. Finally, the fifth stripe is at the base of the caudal fin. These last 3 stripes take the shape of the letter 'C'. Finally, the caudal fin of juveniles has the same pale yellow posterior edge as the 5 stripes of the body.
Sponges, bryozoans, zoanthids, gorgonians, tunicates and certain algae are the basis of the diet of Pomacanthus paru. Generally we will observe this species forming pairs that swim not far from each other. It is a territorial species, which will not hesitate to defend its territory against other pairs of the same species.Photos: