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Family Taxonomy

The family Pomacanthidae comprises about 87 species in nine genera. Australian seas contain 30 species in 7 genera; one additional species is found on the Australian territory of Cocos (Keeling) Island in the Indian Ocean.

Family Distribution

Most angelfishes live on coral reefs and are found worldwide, mostly in tropical seas.

Family Size

The maximum size is about 46 cm, but several Centropyge species are fully mature at lengths under 10 cm.

Family Feeding

Most of the smaller species such as members of Centropyge feed almost exclusively on algae, whereas many of the larger species feed on sponges supplemented with algae and small amounts of zoantharians, tunicates, hydroids, gorgonians and various eggs.

Family Reproduction

Although closely allied to butterflyfishes (Family Chaetodontidae) angelfishes lack the characteristic tholichthys larval morphology of chaetodontids.

Family Commercial

Pomacanthids are popular aquarium fishes.

Family Diagnostic

Allen, G.R. 1980. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons Vol. 2 pp. 149-352 figs 214-510

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1979. The Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Aust. Natl. Parks Wldlf. Ser. Spec. Publ. 2. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 81 pp. 15 pls [181] (Angelfishes)

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

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 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.

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

Steene, R.C. 1978. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed Vol. 1 144 pp. 216 figs


Dianne J. Bray