Chaetodontoplus ballinae Click to enlarge image
A Ballina Angelfish at a depth of 20m, near Ball's Pyramid, New South Wales, April, 1994. This is the first underwater photograph taken of this species. Image: P. Parker
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 20 cm in length.


The Ballina Angelfish is a protected species that is only known from northern coastal New South Wales and Balls Pyramid, near Lord Howe Island, New South Wales.


The Ballina Angelfish can be recognised by its distinctive colouration. It is pearly grey to whitish with a broad region of black covering much of the back and pectoral fin base. There are black areas through the mouth and eye. The pectoral and caudal fins are yellow.

Chaetodontoplus ballinae

A Ballina Angelfish trawled during the NORFANZ expedition at a depth of 90m, near Ball's Pyramid, New South Wales, May 2003.

Image: K. Parkinson


It occurs in subtropical marine waters at depths between 15 m and 120 m.


The Ballina Angelfish is only known from coastal northern New South Wales and Balls Pyramid, near Lord Howe Island, New South Wales.

The species was described in 1959 by G.P. Whitley, Curator of the Australian Museum Fish Department for 42 years. He described the species based on a single specimen caught off Ballina, northern New South Wales.

It wasn't until 1978 that another specimen was collected by K. Graham (ex. NSW Fisheries, now AM Research Associate), working aboard the FRV Kapala. This fish was trawled from a depth of around 120 m off Evans Head (AMS I.22515-001)

Three specimens were obtained in 1994 by P. Parker at a depth of 25 m near Ball's Pyramid (AMS I.34842-001).

The NORFANZ expedition in 2003 trawled three specimens at a depth of 90 m, near Ball's Pyramid, south-east of Lord Howe Island. K. Graham and K. Parkinson (NORFANZ voyage participants) registered one of these specimens into the Australian Museum Fish Collection (AMS I.42727-004).

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.

Conservation status

It is protected in New South Wales waters.

Further reading

  1. Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  3. Parker, P. 1994. The rediscovery of the Ballina Angelfish Chaetodontoplus ballinae, two new fish records for Lord Howe Island, Australia. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium. August: 112-115.