Ornate Angelfish, Genicanthus bellus Randall 1975

Other Names: Bellus Angelfish, Bellus Lyretail Angelfish

A female Ornate Angelfish, Genicanthus bellus, at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, February 2012, depth 45 m. Source: cocos_karen / iNaturalist. org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


Males and females of this small angelfish are strikingly sexually dichromatic. Juveniles and females are greyish to bluish with broad black bands and a blue patch on the lower sides. Males are pale bluish to greyish with a golden mid-lateral stripe and another along the dorsal-fin base.

Ornate Angelfish live in small haremic groups with a male and up to 6 females. If the male disappears the dominant female will change sex and colour pattern over 2-3 weeks.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Genicanthus bellus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Jul 2020,

Ornate Angelfish, Genicanthus bellus Randall 1975

More Info


Recorded in the Australian region from Holmes Reef in the Coral Sea off the Great Barrier Reef, and at the Australian territories of Christmas Island and Cocos-Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the tropical east-Indo-west-central-Pacific.

Usually inhabits deep reefs below 50 m, often in shoals along deep current-swept outer reef drop-offs.


Dorsal fin XV, 15-16; Anal fin III, 16-17; Longitudinal scale series 46-48.


Sexually dimorphic in colour: Males are pale greyish with a golden mid-lateral stripe, a golden stripe along the dorsal-fin base and blue margins on the fins. Females are greyish to bluish with a broad black diagonal band bounded by white from above the gill cover to the lower caudal lobe, an elongate blue patch on the lower side, a broad black bar through the eye, a black dorsal fin with a red submarginal band and a black outer upper caudal fin lobe giving a scissor-tail appearance.


Planktivore - forms shoals in midwater to feed on zooplankton, including pelagic tunicates. Will also consume benthic invertebrates such as polychaetes and bryozoans and algae


Forms small harems of 3-7 individuals, with a single male and up to six females. If the male disappears, the dominant female gradually changes sex and colour pattern over a period of 2-3 weeks.


Traded in the aquarium industry, although rarely collected due to its deep-water habitat.


Dianne J. Bray

Ornate Angelfish, Genicanthus bellus Randall 1975


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. & 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.

Hobbs, J.-P.A., Frisch, A.J. Hender, J. & Gilligan, J.J. 2007. New records of angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) and butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) from Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands, Indian Ocean. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 90: 107-109.

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

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 304-622.

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. Guam : Coral Graphics vi 330 pp. 192 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.

Pyle, R., Myers, R. & Craig, M.T. 2010. Genicanthus bellus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 15 March 2014.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365090


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:24-110 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Deep coral reefs

Max Size:18 cm TL

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