Chordates •

Queen angelfish

(Holacanthus ciliaris)



The queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris), also known as the blue angelfish, golden angelfish or yellow angelfish, is a species of marine angelfish found in the western Atlantic Ocean. It is a benthic (ocean floor) warm-water species that lives in coral reefs. It is recognized by its blue and yellow coloration and a distinctive spot or "crown" on its forehead. This crown distinguishes it from the closely related and similar looking Bermuda blue angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis), with which it overlaps in range and can interbreed. The queen angelfish has a deep, compressed oval-shaped body with a short, blunt snout and a small mouth containing bristle-like teeth. The dorsal fin contains 14 spines and 19–21 soft rays, and the anal fin has 3 spines and 20–21 soft rays. This species attains a maximum total length of 45 cm (18 in) and weighs 1,600 g (56 oz). Males may be larger than females. The species' distinctive coloration has been described as like it was "painted by someone trying to use all the colors in a new paint set". It has blue-green flank (side) scales with yellow edges; the tail and paired fins are bright-yellow, and the anal fins are orange-yellow. The back of the dorsal fin is tipped in orange-yellow, and the pectoral fins have large blue spots at the base. On the forehead, above and behind the eyes, is an ocellated (eye-like) spot or "crown" with an electric blue ring surrounding a cobalt blue center with electric blue spots. This crown is the main feature distinguishing the species from the Bermuda blue angelfish. Juveniles are dark blue with bright blue vertical stripes. They resemble juvenile blue angelfish and are distinguished by more curved vertical stripes. Growing juveniles develop transitional patterns as they reach their adult coloration. Seven other color morphs have been recorded off the coast of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, Brazil. These include a bright-orange gold morph, an all-white morph, a white morph with orange and black blotches, a bright blue morph that has a pale caudal fin, a yellow-faced bright blue morph with a pale caudal fin, a bright blue morph with both the pectorals and caudal fin yellow, and a bright blue morph with black-and-white pectoral/caudal fins and white mouth and operculum. Another color morph was recorded off Dry Tortugas, Florida, in 2009. This fish was mostly cobalt blue with white pectoral, pelvic and caudal fins.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii
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