Animal Species:Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch, 1787)

Juvenile and adult Emperor Angelfish look very different. This stunning looking species is a popular aquarium fish.

Standard Common Name

Emperor Angelfish

Identification

Adult Emperor Angelfish have diagonal yellow and purplish-blue stripes on the body, and a curved black bar covering the eye.

Angelfishes of the genus Pomacanthus are known for their dramatic colour changes with growth. The juvenile Emperor Angelfish (bottom image) is dark blue-black with a white ring on the rear of the body. This is surrounded by incomplete circles of blue and white.

Size range

The species grows to 38cm in length

Similar Species

Angelfishes are related to the butterflyfishes, family Chaetodontidae. The two families can be distinguished by the presence or absence of a large spine on the lower, rear margin of the preoperculum. The spine is present in angelfishes but absent in butterflyfishes.

Distribution

The Emperor Angelfish occurs throughout much of the Indo-Central Pacific. In Australia it is known from the central Western Australian coast, around the tropical north and south to the central New South Wales coastline.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Pomacanthus+imperator

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Emperor Angelfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The species occurs on coral reefs.  Juveniles are often seen under ledges near cleaner shrimps.

Economic/social impacts

Angelfishes are some of the most popular tropical marine aquarium fishes.

Classification

Species:
imperator
Genus:
Pomacanthus
Family:
Pomacanthidae
Order:
Perciformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
  3. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator, Pomacanthidae, yellow, purple, blue, white, black, 'normal fish', 30 cm - 1 m, stripes, marine, adult,