Regal Angelfish,<i> Pygoplites diacanthus </i> Click to enlarge image
A Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, at a depth of 8m, Horseshoe Reef, Great Detached Reef, far northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 25 cm in length.


The Regal Angelfish is one of the most beautiful tropical marine fishes.


The Regal Angelfish can be recognised by the alternating yellow and black-edged white bars on the body. The soft part of the dorsal fin is blue with black scribbles. The anal fin has yellow and blue stripes. The caudal fin is yellow.

It has a strong preopercular spine that is characteristic of the Angelfish family Pomacanthidae

Juvenile Regal Angelfish are similar to the adults, but are more orange than yellow, and have a distinct ocellus on the soft dorsal fin.


Regal Angelfish inhabit coral reefs and lagoons that have abundant coral growth. They are commonly found near caves and ledges. This fish is often seen in pairs or as solitary individuals and rarely in small groups. Juveniles are secretive, using coral crevices and cracks for shelter.

It is found in depths from 1 m to 48 m.


It occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific, from East Africa and the Red Sea, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to the Tuamoto Islands.

In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia around the tropical north of the country, and south to southern New South Wales.

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.

Feeding and diet

The Regal Angelfish feeds on sponges, sea squirts and salps.


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
  3. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.