Swallowtail Angelfish, Genicanthus melanospilos (Bleeker 1857)

Other Names: Black-spot Angelfish, Spotbreast Angelfish

A male Swallowtail Angelfish, Genicanthus melanospilos, on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns, Queensland. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Males of this distinctive angelfish have numerous narrow black bars on the upper head and sides, a large black spot on the breast near the pelvic-fin bases, and very long caudal-fin lobes. Females are yellow above, pale grey below with broad black outer caudal-fin lobes.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Genicanthus melanospilos in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Mar 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/650

Swallowtail Angelfish, Genicanthus melanospilos (Bleeker 1857)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef in the Coral Sea to Channel Reef, off Cairns, Queensland; also at Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Elsewhere, widespread in the tropical western Pacific. 

Inhabits rich coral areas on deep outer reef slopes and drop-offs. A small harem with a dominant male and several females feed on zooplankton above the reef.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Least Concern

Species Citation

Holacanthus melanospilos Bleeker, 1857, Acta Soc. Sci. Indo-Neerland. 2: 56. Type locality: Ambon, Indonesia.


Dianne J. Bray

Swallowtail Angelfish, Genicanthus melanospilos (Bleeker 1857)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

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

Bleeker, P. 1857. Achtste bijdrage tot de kennis der vischfauna van Amboina. Acta Societatis Scientiarum Indo-Neerlandicae 2: 1-102.

Hobbs, J.-P.A., Ayling, A.M., Choat, J.H., Gilligan, J.J., McDonald, C.A., Neilson, J. & Newman, S.J. 2010. New records of marine fishes illustrate the biogeographic importance of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 2422: 63–68.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

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

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.

Pyle, R. & Myers, R. 2010. Genicanthus melanospilos. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 23 March 2014.

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.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365071

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:20-80 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map