Inhabits deep coastal drop-offs. In Java Sea, taken only in dead reef areas in somewhat turbid water. Closely related species such as P. pleurotaenia and P. bimaculatus may spawn at the same time and produce accidental hybrids.
Each male dominates a group of females and enforces a pecking-order hierarchy. In the event the male is gone, the most dominant female will turn male and assumes the dominant male’s role in the harem. This is very interesting to observer in captivity if the aquarium is large enough. However if confined to a small space the weaker individuals can get harassed into hiding, refusing to eat and wasting away.