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Species profile—Genicanthus melanospilos (swallowtail angelfish)


Animalia (animals) → Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) → Pomacanthidae (anglefishes) → Genicanthus melanospilos (swallowtail angelfish)

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Species details

Animalia (animals)
Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Pomacanthidae (anglefishes)
Scientific name
Genicanthus melanospilos (Bleeker, 1857)
Common name
swallowtail angelfish
WildNet taxon ID
Conservation significant
Wetland status
Wetland Dependant Species
Pest status
Males and females of this species are totally different in appearance. The male has numerous vertical dark stripes across the body and top of the head. Males have a large black spot on the chest, in front of the ventral fins. They also have small yellow spots on the tail, dorsal and anal fins. The female is yellow above to grey below, with dark streaks along the upper and lower edges of the tail. They grow to a maximum length of 18cm.
The swallowtail angelfish is found in the tropical marine waters of the Western Pacific, from Malaysia north to Japan, south to Australia and east to Fiji. In Australia it is occurs from Lizard Island to Channel Reef (off Cairns), Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.
Distributional limits
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Species environment
The swallowtail angelfish inhabits outer reef drop-offs and along steep walls with plenty of ledges and caves.
Females forage in small loose groups. Males are more solitary, occasionally mixing with females. Male angelfish defend their territory by driving away other male competitors. This is performed in order to maintain access to a mate. Like most angelfish, they probably shelter under boulders or in crevices on the reef.
For many species of angelfish, spawning (mating) occurs at dusk. Usually a single pair, although sometimes a small group, will congregate off the ocean bottom. When a female arrives nearby, the male performs a courtship display. This involves erecting his fins and swimming rapidly back and forth. Then the male and female swim spiralling toward the surface, where they simultaneously shed eggs and sperm, before returning to the ocean bottom. The eggs are less than 1mm in diameter and hatch 15-20 hours later.
Swallowtail angelfish feed on plankton.
Contributors: Mellisa Mayhew 16/10/2008; Wayne Martin 09/11/2008
Egerton, L. (ed.) (2005). Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife, (Revised Edition). Readers Digest Pty Ltd, Sydney.
Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006). Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia, Volume 35.2, p. 1307. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood.
Kuiter, R.H. (1996). Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland Ltd, Sydney.
Parkinson, K. & McGrouther, M. (2003). Find a Fish: Blackspot Angelfish, Genicanthus melanospilos (Bleeker, 1857) [Online]. Australian Museum, Sydney, accessed 09/11/2008, [].
Profile author
Mellisa Mayhew (09/11/2008)

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Data source

This profile data is sourced from the QLD Wildlife Data API using the Get species by ID function used under CC-By 4.0.

This information is sourced from the WildNet database managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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Last updated
20 May 2024