Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus (Boddaert 1772)

Other Names: Bluebanded Angelfish, Blue-banded Angelfish, Empress Angelfish, Royal Angelfish, Royal Empress Angel, Royal Empress Angelfish

A Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, at Ra, Fiji. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A yellowish-orange angelfish with dark-edged bluish-white bars on the head and sides extending onto the dorsal and anal fins, a dark patch around the eye and a yellow tail. Juveniles have fewer bands on the sides, a large ocellus on the rear of the dorsal fin, and lack the dark patch around the eye.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Pygoplites diacanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2019,

Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus (Boddaert 1772)

More Info


Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, to Sydney, New South Wales, also reefs in the Coral Sea and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. 
Elsewhere, the species is considered to be widespread in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific, from the Red Sea to the Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia), northwards to the Ryukyu Islands (Japan) and south to New Caledonia (France). Recent research however, indicates that the genus Pygoplites comprises more than one species. The two variants may hybridize at Christmas Island.

Individuals, pairs or small groups inhabit coral rich areas of lagoon and seaward reefs, often near caves. The cryptic juveniles usually shelter in cracks and crevices.


Dorsal fin XIV, 17-19; Anal fin III, 17-19; Pectoral fin 16-17; Longitudinal scale series 48-50.


Carnivore - feeds on sponges and tunicates.


Although commonly traded in the aquarium industry, this species is reportedly difficult to maintain in captivity.


Research by Coleman et al. (2016) cryptic diversity exists within the monotypic genus Pygoplites with significant levels of genetic structure among three regions: the Pacific Ocean (including a cohort at Christmas Island in the Australian EEZ), the Indian Ocean (with two sympatric mtDNA lineages), and the Red Sea.

Species Citation

Chaetodon diacanthus Boddaert 1772. De Chaetodonte diacantho descripto ... :pl. 9. Type data: Status unknown, whereabouts unknown, Ambon (as Amboina), Indonesia.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus (Boddaert 1772)


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.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Boddaert, P. 1772. Epistola ad Virum celeberrimum Hier. Dav. Gaubium, de Chaetodonte diacantho, Descripto atque accuratissima icone Illustrata. Amstelodami : M. Magérum 43 pp. 2 pls. [in Dutch and Latin]

Coleman RC, Eble JA, DiBattista JD, Rocha LA, Randall JE, Berumen ML & Bowen BW. 2016. Regal phylogeography: Range-wide survey of the marine angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus reveals evolutionary partitions between the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 100: 243–253. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.005 Abstract

Endoh, K. 2007. Angelfishes of the World. Two Little Fishies, Inc., Miami Gardens, Florida.

Fraser-Brunner, A. 1933. A revision of the chaetodont fishes of the subfamily Pomacanthinae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1933(2): 543-599 figs 1-29 pl. 1

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

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.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

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., Rocha, L.A. & Craig, M.T. 2010. Pygoplites diacanthus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165885A6157224. Downloaded on 24 May 2016.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

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.

Russell, B.C. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2

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:37365082

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-80 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:25 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map