Common name: bannerfish
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: All three species (H. diphreutes [pennant coralfish], H. acuminatus [pennant coralfish] and H. intermedius [Red Sea bannerfish - see separate Species Profile]) have an elongate white dorsal filament and black pelvic fins. Heniochus acuminatus and H. diphreutes have a white body with two broad black stripes, yellow soft-dorsal and caudal fins and dark marks above the eye and top of snout. Heniochus acuminatus can be distinguished from H. diphreutes based on dorsal spine count (11 as opposed to 12), possessing a more protruding snout, shorter pelvic fins, and longer anal fins (Allen and Kuiter 1978). Heniochus intermedius has a body color that is whitish dorsally and grades to yellow ventrally, two black bands along the side (the most anterior band passes just behind the head an encompasses the eye) and yellow soft-dorsal, pectoral, anal, and caudal fins. All three species typically grow to about 20 cm TL. Common names for H. diphreutes include: schooling bannerfish, bannerfish, false Moorish idol, pennant bannerfish, poor man’s Moorish idol; H. acuminatus: longfin bannerfish, bannerfish; no additional common names for H. intermedius. From Allen et al. (1998) and Randall (2005).
Size: Maximum size to 20 cm total length (Allen et al. 1998)
Native Range: The Red Sea bannerfish (H. intermedius) has the most restricted native distribution of the three, occurring in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (see separate Species Profiles). Heniochus acuminatus and H. diphreutes are widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific and central Pacific oceans. From Allen et al. (1998).
In Florida, bannerfish have been seen off West Palm Beach (in 2004 and 2008); however, it is unclear which of the three species (Heniochus diphreutes, H. intermedius or H. acuminatus) was observed.
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Heniochus sp. are found here.
Table last updated 9/23/2021
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: Heniochus diphreutes is usually encountered in large shoals, while the other two species are generally found alone or in pairs. Juvenile H. diphreutes have been observed cleaning parasites from other fishes; otherwise, the species feeds on zooplankton. The diets of H. acuminatus and H. intermedius include zooplankton and benthic invertebrates (e.g., polychaete worms). From Allen et al. (1998).
Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium releases.
Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.
References: (click for full references)
Allen, G.R. and Kuiter, R.H. Heniochus diphreutes
Jordan, a valid species of butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) from the Indo-West Pacific. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 81(1):11-18.
Allen, G. R., R. Steene and M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing (USA)/Tropical Reef Research (Australia).
Randall, J. E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
Brown, M.E., and P.J. Schofield
Revision Date: 2/18/2020
Peer Review Date: 4/24/2009
Brown, M.E., and P.J. Schofield, 2021, Heniochus sp. Cuvier, 1816: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2787, Revision Date: 2/18/2020, Peer Review Date: 4/24/2009, Access Date: 9/23/2021
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.