Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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CAAB: 37365000



Compiler and date details

30 April 2012 - Douglass F. Hoese, Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Connie J. Allen

December 2006 - Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Connie J. Allen


The family Pomacanthidae comprises about 80 species in nine genera. Australian seas contain 29 species in seven genera; plus three additional species from Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island.

Angelfishes are mainly inhabitants of coral reefs, occurring worldwide in tropical seas. Most of the smaller species such as members of Centropyge feed almost exclusively on algae, whereas many of the larger species feed on sponges supplemented with algae and small amounts of zoantharians, tunicates, hydroids, gorgonians and various eggs. They are closely allied and similar in appearance to chaetodontids, but are generally more robust and differ in having a sharp spine on the cheek. They also lack the characteristic tholichthys larval morphology of chaetodontids. The maximum size reached is about 46 cm, but several Centropyge species are fully mature at lengths under 10 cm.

The Australian angelfishes were reviewed by Steene (1978) and Allen (1980) provided a world list of species (74 species in seven genera). Diagnoses and colour photographs of most of the Australian species are provided by Randall et al. (1990, 1997). Allen et al. (1998) also treated Australian species, and most are described in Pyle (2001) and Kuiter et al. (2003). Grant (1991) included Pomacanthus annularis in his book on Australian fishes, but gave no indication of the origin of the specimen; it is found in New Guinea and may occur in Australia. There is some disagreement about the genus Paracentropyge, with some workers (e.g. Randall 2005) regarding it as a synonym of Centropyge.


General References

Allen, G.R. 1980. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons Vol. 2 pp. 149-352 figs 214-510.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & Allen, M. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Cairns : Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research 250 pp. figs.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. 2006. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [1302]

Kuiter, R.H., Debelius, H. & Tanaka, H. 2003. Pomacanthidae, a Comprehensive Guide to Angelfishes. Melbourne : Zoonetics 206 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. 1916. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 4. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 4(4): 169-199 figs 1-2 pls 49-58

Pyle, R. 2001. Chaetodontidae, Pomacanthidae. pp. 3224-3286 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Steene, R.C. 1978. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed Vol. 1 144 pp. 216 figs.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
19-Dec-2012 08-Feb-2013 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)