Tropical to warm temperate latitudes of the western Atlantic Ocean
Order Perciformes (perch-like fishes), Family Pomacanthidae (angelfishes)
The queen angelfish is one of the most iconic, brightly colored species on coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea and its adjacent waters. It is typically bright yellow, green, and blue, and it gets its name from the coloration on its head that gives the impression that it is wearing a crown. This species’ thin, disc-shaped body makes it difficult to see head on but very easy to see from the side.
Queen angelfish are foragers and eat a variety of sessile invertebrates and plants, including sponges, algae, corals, soft corals, and others. Juveniles clean parasites and loose scales off of large fishes, including some that are predatory. These angelfish are typically observed alone or in pairs, but higher densities form in some areas. Queen angelfish reproduce via broadcast spawning, where the female releases her eggs and the male releases his sperm, in the water column above the reef, at the same time. This method increases the likelihood that eggs will be fertilized and that fertilized eggs will not be eaten by egg predators on the reef surface. Unlike some broadcast spawning species, queen angelfish do not form large aggregations to spawn. They reproduce only in pairs. During a female’s lifetime, she will produce tens of millions of eggs.
Queen angelfish are not fished commercially, but they are eaten by people in some places. As they are beautifully colored, they are also captured alive for display in public and private aquaria. Scientists believe that these practices have not significantly affected queen angelfish populations in most places, but they have been depleted in some areas. Currently, this species is not at risk of extinction and is generally considered a species of least concern.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.