The reef bannerfish is a small-sized fish that can reach a maximum length of 25 cm. However, the average size generally observed in the nature oscillates around 15 cm. Its body is compressed laterally, the first rays of its dorsal fin stretch in a long white filament. The background color of its body is white with two large black diagonal bands. Beyond the second black stripe, the dorsal and the caudal fins are yellow. The pectoral fins are also yellow. Dorsal spines (total): 11 - 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 22-27; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 17 - 19. The head is white, the eyes are black and linked together by a black band. The snout, spotted with black, is a bit stretched with a small terminal protractile (it can be extend) mouth. The juvenile doesn't have yet after the second black stripe any white area like adults.
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The pennant coralfish lives in pairs and is widespread throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific from the eastern coast of Africa, Red Sea included, to Polynesia and from south Japan to the south of the Great Barrier Reef. The reef bannerfish likes relatively deep waters from protected lagoon, channels or outer reef slopes from 15 to 75 meters deep. Juveniles are solitary and can feed by cleaning other fishes.
The pennant coralfish feeds on zooplankton in the water column and occasionally benthic invertebrates.
Form pairs during breeding
There do not appear to be any current threats to this species and it is listed as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN.
In some geographic area the pennant coralfish is harvested for the aquarium trade and it is commonly sold as a cheaper alternative to the Moorish idol, which is considered to be nearly impossible for most hobbyists to keep.