Adults are dark blue-gray and have a vertical white bar on the sides just behind the origin of the pectoral fin. The pelvic fins are white in males and yellow in females. Juveniles undergo a changing pattern of colors but can be distinguished by the orange front and orange tail with a single bar or several white bars on the side.
Size: Length to 25 cm. (1.2 feet)
Range and Habitat
The range of the king angelfish includes the central Gulf of California, Guadalupe Island, south on the outer coast to Ecuador. They are common around shallow rocky and coral reefs from 3 meters (10 feet) to depths of at least 80 meters (260 feet). Juveniles can be found in shallower water.
King angelfish are one of the most abundant fish in the Sea of Cortés. They graze on algal turf and attached invertebrates, especially sponges, and have been observed feeding on the feces of the scissortail damselfish, Chromis atrilobata (damisela cola de tijera). C. atrilobata is the most abundant fish species in shallow waters in La Paz Bay. (see photo)
A possible new hybrid of angelfish has been observed in the Cabo San Lucas area. This is the first probable Pomacanthid hybrid from the eastern Pacific. It is not known whether this is a natural occurrence or the result of introduction of the Clarion angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, from the Revillagigedo Islands by fishing boats. All characters support the hypothesis that the unidentified Pomacanthid is a hybrid of H. passer and H. clarionensis.
(Sala, E; O. Aburto, and J.L. Arreola. 1999. Observations of a probable Hybrid angelfish of the genus Holacanthus from the Sea of Cortés, México. Pacific Science, Vol.53, no.2:181-184.)
Text by Patricia Beller
Photo of king angelfish © Gini Kellogg
Photo of clarion angelfish cleaning manta, from Ocean Oasis
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