Species Index

Pomacanthus imperator
(Bloch, 1787)

Common Name: Emperor Angelfish

Distribution: Adults rare in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, juveniles occasionally seen. Distributed throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region: from the Red Sea and East Africa to the Hawaiian, Line and Tuamoto Islands, north to southern Japan and the Ogasawara Islands, south to New Caledonia and the Austral Islands. In Australia recorded from Shark Bay, across the tropical north, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, south to northern New South Wales and including Lord Howe Island.

Ecological Notes: Large adults frequent areas of rich coral growth in clear lagoon, channels or seaward reefs. Small juveniles found under ledges or in holes in outer lagoon patch reefs or semi-protected areas of exposed channels and reef flats, with sub-adults moving to reef front holes and surge channels. Depth 1 – 100 m.

Additional Notes: Distinctive body pattern with mask over the eyes continuing down to blue opercular spine. Small juveniles as in top photograph, dark with white lines forming concentric circles on rear of body and white dorsal fin margin, sub adult in centre photograph. Adults may produce a powerful drumming or thumping sound at times. Feed on sponges and other encrusting organisms, all stages known to clean much larger fishes. Grows to 40 cm.

References: R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.227.

Atlas of Living Australia website at Accessed 02/07/18.

FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. Accessed 02/07/18.