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
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.
The species grows to 38cm in length
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.
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.
Distribution by collection data
The species occurs on coral reefs. Juveniles are often seen under ledges near cleaner shrimps.
Angelfishes are some of the most popular tropical marine aquarium fishes.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
- 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.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
- 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