The regal angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, is one of the most beautiful and iconic fishes of coral reefs all over the world. This species ranges from the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean through the Indo-Pacific, all the way to the Tuamotu archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean.
Unlike its relatives in the Angelfish family which show a great deal of variation, hybrids and aberrants forms and colors, the regal angelfish is incredibly consistent looking throughout its range. The only difference being that Red Sea and Indian Ocean forms sport a bright yellow face and belly, while the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Ocean forms are a little bit more grey in the chest.
With such a homogenous appearance, the regal angelfish doesn’t give up any wild cards very often, although xanthic and mis-barred individuals do show up from time to time. During our stay near Bali Aquarium we had the fortunate opportunity to spend some quality time with one such mis-barred regal angelfish individual and of course, we took plenty of pictures of this specimen to share with you.
The ‘quality’ of the imperfect barring pattern of regal angelfish ranges from small imperfections in its stripes, to stripes that branch across other bars, and at least one individual has been documented with almost no bars in the center of the body. Xanthic specimens of Pygoplites diacanthus can be quite striking as well but most of these generally revert to normal coloration in captivity.
Thankfully, the few mis-barred regal angelfish that are supplied to the aquarium hobby do retain their special color pattern and it can even further develop as the fish grows. However, aberrant striped regal angelfish generally have a normal pattern on their ‘other’ side, which is still beautiful on its own.
Nevertheless, regal angelfish are truly gorgeous when they are in the peak of health, with beautiful, color & pattern, and an inquisitive personality that makes them a favorite of aquarium keepers. While we were at it we’ve also included photos of one particularly stunning large regal angelfish also from Bali Aquarium, with only a hint of misbar on one side a nice, prominent large blue gill spine that indicates that it is probably a male Pygoplites diacanthus.