Fun King Angelfish Facts For Kids

Ogrima Mukherjee
Feb 20, 2024 By Ogrima Mukherjee
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Check out these awesome king angelfish fish facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

King angelfish are tropical fish endemic to the Pacific Ocean near the Gulf of California, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands. They are non-migratory marine angelfish living in tropical rocky coral reefs at a depth of 13–98 ft (4–30 m). They have dark blue-gray bodies with blue rimming around the fins, a vertical white bar behind their pectoral fins, and a yellow tail. Juveniles are more multicolored, predominantly yellow, with blue-rimmed fins and an orange mask around their eyes. The adult males and females look the same and are 13.8 in (35 cm) long and around 6-8 in (15-20 cm) tall. Their diet consists of sponges, sessile invertebrates, algae, and plankton. Their spawning season continues from summer to fall, peaking in late summer. King angelfish are monogamous, open sea egg-scatterers and can produce 25,000-75,000 eggs every day during the breeding season.

For more relatable content, check out these French angelfish facts and Altum angelfish facts for kids.

King Angelfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a king angelfish?

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) is a tropical marine angel fish belonging to the family Pomacanthidae.

What class of animal does a king angelfish belong to?

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) is a fish belonging to the Actinopterygii class of fish.

How many king angelfish are there in the world?

The exact number of king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) fish in the world is unknown, but they have a large, widely distributed population.

Where does a king angelfish live?

The king angelfish (Hoalcanthus passer) lives in the eastern Pacific Ocean near Peru, the Galapagos, and the Gulf of California.

What is a king angelfish's habitat?

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) lives in the middle and bottom parts of the oceans in a rocky tropical reef; an aquarium or tank is also a suitable environment if maintained well. They live at a depth of 13–98 ft (4–30 m). They live in the crevices of the reefs and rock formations; juveniles are also found in tide pools.

Who do king angelfish live with?

King angelfish (Holacanthus passer) are seen alone, in pairs, and as a part of large schools of fish in rocky and coral reefs. In an aquarium or tank, they are not good community inhabitants. King angelfish are aggressive, dominating, and abusive towards smaller tank mates. The Holacanthus passer angelfish are aggressive tank mates towards other angelfish, lower in the social hierarchy.

How long does a king angelfish live?

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) can live for around 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) lays eggs as a means for reproduction. They are open water egg-scatterers. Their spawning season is from summer until fall, peaking in late summer. These fish are monogamous and can produce 25,000-75,000 fertilized eggs daily. During the spawning season, the fish breed every day; the male of the school first create spawning areas in rocky and coral reefs, where the females enter with their mate. The most dominant male angelfish king takes up the center of the spawning area, and his mate joins him there while the other pairs surround them. The males and females release their gametes into the water and the eggs that get fertilized float in the water for around 20 hours before they hatch. The actual spawning takes approximately 30 minutes at length.

As of yet, Holacanthus passer angelfish reproduction has not been established in captivity and has only been observed in their natural habitat.

What is their conservation status?

Due to their large population and wide distribution, they are categorized as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) population does not have any significant threats either.

King Angelfish Fun Facts

What do king angelfish look like?

The white vertical bar on the sides of Holacanthus passer (king angelfish) is a distinctive factor that easily distinguishes this fish from others.

Adult king angelfish are dark blue-gray in color and covered with hardy, rough scales. A distinct vertical white bar is present behind the pectoral fin on the flanks. Another distinguishing feature is an orange-yellow patch at the corner of the mouth. Their caudal and pectoral fins are yellow-orange, and pelvic fins transparent. The adults have 18-20 rays of their dorsal fin and every one of their pectoral fins, and 17-19 of their anal fin. They are also larger than most angelfish in length. The males and females of this species are visually the same of most accounts; there is a slight difference in size, with the larger fish being male.

The juvenile king angelfish are even more colorful compared to the adult king angelfish. They have a series of multicolored stripes on their sides. The juveniles have yellow, blue, brown, orange, white, and dark brown stripes, starting from the head to the end of their body; their fins are rimmed with iridescent blue and orange.

Their colorful and beautiful visuals make them out to be the 'angels' of any marine corals reef range or reef aquarium which they inhabit.

How cute are they?

King angelfish (Holacanthus passer), as the name may suggest, are very majestic looking, though they are not particularly cute. Their dominant behavior, coupled with their hardy physical attributes, make them worthy of being the angelfish 'king'.

How do they communicate?

King angelfish are fighters who establish a social hierarchy by fighting physically; this species uses their mouths to wrestle and their tails as clubs. They also communicate and establish social order using the pheromones released into the water via urine and bile excretion.

How big is a king angelfish?

The Holacanthus passer angelfish's natural habitat is in the Pacific Ocean near the Gulf of California, Peru, and Galapagos. Its body can grow up to 13.8 in (35 cm) length and are around 6-8 in (15-20 cm) broad. They are twice the size of freshwater angelfish and are half the size of a lake trout.

How fast can a king angelfish swim?

King angelfish can make fast manoeuvers underwater using their strong pectoral fins, pelvic fins, and dorsal fin, but the body of this fish species are not meant to be long-distance swimmers. Their exact speed in the ocean is unknown.

How much does a king angelfish weigh?

A blue king angelfish species weighs 1 lb (0.45 kg), while the juveniles and sub-adult are significantly lighter. King angelfish are half the weight of the smallest rainbow trouts and a quarter of what a porcupine fish weighs.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of this aggressive species. They are simply referred to as male king angelfish or female king angelfish. There aren't any visual cues to differentiate between the sexes either. Only an expert would be able to distinguish between the two sexes based on minor behavioral cues.

What would you call a baby king angelfish?

There is no specific name that is used to refer to a baby king angelfish. The young are simply referred to as juveniles while in the sub-adult stage and are considered adults when they become sexually mature.

What do they eat?

A king angelfish is an omnivore, and its regular foods include a variety of plants and animals. The diet usually consists of sponges, planktons, algae, sessile invertebrates, which are commonly found in the reef. This angelfish species scrapes algae off the rocks and consumes it. Juveniles often clean scalloped hammerhead sharks. They are best not kept in reef or corals aquariums are they will eat the sponges there.

Are they dangerous?

They are not particularly dangerous to humans and can't harm us. They usually don't prey or feed on other fish either, but they are still considered a little hazardous for different fish species (cohabitants or tankmates). King angelfish are more dominating and aggressive than other angelfish. They should typically be the last fish to be introduced into a tank and should be kept away from less-active fish species. The dominant and aggressive behavior is in contrast with their namesake, 'angels.'

Would they make a good pet?

While these angelfish are popular in aquariums, they are not as popular as pets in home aquariums. This is due to their specific foods and the tanks. They need tanks that can hold more than 250 gal (946 l) and need to be fed at least three times a day. They also don't eat processed fish foods with sponges as ingredients and need live sponges for feeding.

Did you know...

Angelfish live in both freshwater and saltwater. Species like freshwater angelfish are also popular in aquariums and as pets, while king angelfish are marine angelfish.

The king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) has a head shield that resembles a 'crown.' Hence, it carries the royal designation of 'king.' The queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris), from the same genus, also has a 'crown.' The two fish have a similar body structure but differ in size and coloration. The king angel is more petite by around 4 in (10 cm) as the Queen can grow up to 18 in (45 cm).

A king angelfish pair can produce more than 10 million fertilized eggs during one spawning season; they are open sea egg scatterers.

There are eleven fish species under the genus Holacanthus.

The king angelfish is similar to clarion angelfish (Holocanthus clarionensis) in terms of body shape and size but differs in terms of coloration.

How long do angelfish live in the ocean?

Angelfish can live for around 15 years in their natural habitat.

How do angelfish protect themselves?

Angelfish are fighters and fight to establish a social hierarchy. They use their mouths to wrestle and their tails as clubs. King angelfish, in particular, have a strong spike on their lower cheek, which they use to defend themselves.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our redtail catfish facts or saddled bichir facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable king angelfish coloring pages.

King Angelfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Sponges, planktons, algae, sessile invertebrates

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

1 lb (0.45 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical rocky and coral reefs, tide pools

Where Do They Live?

eastern pacific ocean, galapagos, the gulf of california

How Long Were They?

13.8 in (35 cm)

How Tall Were They?

6-8 in (15-20 cm)







Scientific Name

Holacanthus passer

What Do They Look Like?

Dark blue, gray, yellow tail

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

water pollution

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Ogrima Mukherjee

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima Mukherjee picture

Ogrima MukherjeeBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to her craft. With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from GITAM University, she possesses a strong foundation in technology. However, her keen interest in writing has allowed her to leverage her skills and passion to create high-quality content in various niches. Ogrima's extensive experience in content writing and social media copywriting showcases her versatility and adaptability as a writer. Her ability to create engaging and well-researched articles tailored specifically for children sets her apart.

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