Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch 1787)

Other Names: Emperor Angel-fish, Imperial Angelfish

An Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator, in Beqa Lagoon, Fiji. Source: Nick Hobgood / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A stunning angelfish with yellow and blue stripes, a black 'mask' around the eyes. Juveniles are dark blue with electric blue and white rings, and a white margin on the dorsal fin.

Adults inhabit areas of rich coral growth on clear lagoon, channel, or seaward reefs, and are usually seen under ledges and in caves. Younger fish often occur in reef holes and surge channels on seaward reefs. Juveniles often shelter under ledges, in reef holes and in semi-protected areas in channels and on outer reef flats.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Pomacanthus imperator in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Nov 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/653

Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch 1787)

More Info


Recorded in the Australian EEZ from Shark Bay to the Dampier Archipelago, WA, also Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, WA, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and from off Cape York and Portlock Reef, Coral Sea to Port Stephens, NSW, also Lord Howe Island, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Elsewhere, the species is widespread throughout the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, from East Africa and the Red Sea east to Hawaii and the Pitcairn Group, north to southern Japan and Ogasawara Islands, south to Australia, New Caledonia, Tonga and the Austral Islands.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XIII-XIV, 17-21; Anal fin III, 18-21.


Feeds mainly on sponges and tunicates.


A very popular aquarium fish.

Species Citation

Chaetodon imperator Bloch 1787, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische 3: 51. Type locality: Japan.


Dianne J. Bray

Emperor Angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch 1787)


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. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 21pp.

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. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

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.

Bloch, M.E. 1787. Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin : J. Morino Vol. 3 146 pp. pls 181-216.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

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

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.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

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.

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.

Pyle, R., Rocha, L.A. & Craig, M.T. 2010. Pomacanthus imperator. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 18 October 2014.

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:37365014

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-100 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:38 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map