Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout tropical seas world wide. In Australia recorded from Geraldton in Western Australia, across the tropical north, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland to southern New South Wales and including Lord Howe Island.
Frequents lagoons and reefs, primarily around islands. Tending to secrete themselves in daylight hours, usually under reef or in recesses and shadows, coming forth to feed at night. Depth to 300 m, usually 3 - 35 m.
Convex tail margin with spots on the tail help to distinguish from similar Priacanthus hamrur which has more lunate tail fin and black spot at base of pelvic fin. Able to rapidly change body colour and markings. Seen singly or in small aggregations, only occasionally seen in open during the day. Juveniles feed on zooplankton in the water column, adults taking octopi, shrimps, crabs, polychaetes and small fish. Grows to 50 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.118.
Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=heteropriacanthus+cruentatus. Accessed 01/06/18.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Heteropriacanthus-cruentatus.html. Accessed 01/06/18.