The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Heniochus acuminatus
Heniochus acuminatus
(pennant coralfish)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Heniochus acuminatus

Common name: pennant coralfish

Synonyms and Other Names: longfin bannerfish, featherfin bullfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Pennant coralfish get their common name from the elongate white 4th dorsal spine that is as long or longer than the body itself (Burgess and Axelrod 1973, Myers 1999). Randall et al. (1990) described the fish as deep-bodied with overall white coloration and two oblique broad black bands on the sides. The first band is continuous with the black pelvic fins and the second band ends of the posterior half of the anal fin. The soft dorsal and tail fin are yellow. There is a black bar above the eye.

Heniochus acuminatus has 11, rarely 12, dorsal fin rays while the nearly identical H. diphreutes has 12, rarely 13 dorsal rays (Allen and Kuiter 1978, Randall 2005). 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 acuminatus has a similar body shape to H. intermedius, but H. intermedius is distinguished by its more yellowish body color and placement of the first black band next to the eye (Allen et al. 1998).

Size: Maximum to 25 cm total length (Randall et al. 1990)

Native Range: Pennant coralfish is widespread throughout the Indo-West Pacific from East Africa and the Arabian Gulf to the Society Islands, north to southern Japan and south to Lord Howe Island, Australia (Allen et al. 1998).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: One individual identified as pennant coralfish observed in 2016 off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida. There are several records of additional Heniochus species, all from southeastern Florida.  The species has also been documented in southeastern Brazil (Adelir-Alvez et al. 2018).

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 acuminatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL201620191Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/17/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Heniochus acuminatus are found either alone or in small groups near the bottom or edge of reef slopes usually below 10 meters deep (Allen et al. 1998) while the similar looking H. diphreutes is most often found in large schools (Allen and Kuiter 1978). They feed primarily on zooplankton and benthic invertebrates (Randall 2005). The juveniles and sometimes adults have been observed occasionally cleaning parasites off other larger fishes (Burgess and Axelrod 1973, Randall 2005). They have approximately a 40-day larval period (Wilson and McCormick 1999).

Means of Introduction: Possibly through the aquarium trade.

Status: Unknown

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)

Adelir-Alves, J., Soeth, M., Braga, R.R., and H. L. Spach. 2018. Non-native reef fishes in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean: a recent record of Heniochus acuminatus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Perciformes, Chaetodontidae) and biological aspects of Chromis limbata (Valenciennes, 1833) (Perciformes, Pomacentridae). Check List 14(2):379-385.

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., Steene, R., and Allen, M. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing (USA)/Tropical Reef Research (Australia).

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes: A field guide for divers and aquarists. Coral Graphics, Guam.

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.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R., and Steene, R.C. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Wilson, D.T. and McCormick, M.I. 1999. Microstructure of settlement-marks in the otoliths of tropical reef fishes. Marine Biology 134:29-41.


Other Resources:

Author: Brown, M.E., and P.J. Schofield

Revision Date: 3/22/2021

Citation Information:
Brown, M.E., and P.J. Schofield, 2024, Heniochus acuminatus: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=3019, Revision Date: 3/22/2021, Access Date: 7/17/2024

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.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/17/2024].

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