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Butterflyfish

Butterflyfish



Fish Index

Fish



Sharks & Rays

Sharks & Rays

Anenome Fish

Anenome Fish

Anthias

Fairy Basslets

Angelfish

Angelfish

Batfish

Batfish

Barracuda & Travallies

Barracuda

Box-, File-& Pufferfiish

Box-, File-& Triggerfiosh

Blennies

Blennies

Butterflyfish

Butterflyfish

Cardinalfish

Cardinalfish

Dartfish

Dartfish

Dragonets

Dragonetes

Dottybacks

Dottybacks

Eels

Eels

Flatfish

Flatfish

Frogfish

Frogfish & Toadfish

Gobies

Gobies

Ghost Pipefish

Ghostpipefish

Hawkfish

Hawkfish

Jawfish

Jawfish

Sand-Divers

Sand-Divers

Scorpionfish

Seahorse

Seahorses

Seahorse

Snappers

Snapper

Surgeonfish

Surgeonfish

Sweetlips

Sweetlips

Triggerfish

Triggerfiish

Wrasse

Wrasse

There are some 113 butterflyfish in 10 genera, of which c. 90% are in Indo-Pacific. These remarkable, colourful fish are often specialist, niche feeders, and are dependant on living reefs with a complex three dimensional stucture to survive. This specialisation enables many species to live closely together, as on the reefs around Bunaken, N. Sulawesi where over 30 species can be found on the surronding reef.

The only way to protect most species is to protect the entire reef community. Act now and support the relevant charaties.

A good account of their interesting lives can be found in the Reef Fishes of the East Indies.

One fish, the Moorish Idol, that is totally unrelated to the butterflyfish has been included here due to its likeness to Bannerfish.

To make identification hopefully a little easier, the images have been grouped according to broad visual similarities with the most similar species being put next to each other. The groups are:

The genus Chaetodon
1: Species with distinctive markings that do not fall into a particular pattern
2. Body partly white, partly light yellow with thin stripes
3. Body either with chevrons or bold verticle or diagonal stipes
4. Basic body colour medium to dark yellow

Other butterflyfish genera and Moorish Idols
5. Bannerfish & long-nosed butterflyfish

Group 1: "Distinctive" Species



Chaetodon adiergastos, the Panda Butterflyfish is one of the larger species. It is often seen in pairs or small groups. C. ephippium has possibly the most distinctive patterning of all species, and can reach over 25cm long. Together with C. unimaculatus it is one of the shyest of butterflyfish.

Chaetodon adiergastos
Chaetodon adiergastos
Chaetodon adiergastos group
Chaetodon citrinellus
Chaetodon citrinellus
Chaetodon ephippium
Chaetodon kleinii
Chaetodon kleinii
large-fish-chaetodon-09-Chaetodon-lunulatus.jpg
Chaetodon lunulatus
Chaetodon puctatofasciatus
Chaetodon puctatofasciatus
Chaetodon unimaculatus
Chaetodon unimaculatus
Feeding frenzy on Abudefduf sp. eggs
Chaetodon xanthurus
Chaetodon xanthurus

Group 2: White & yellow



All Chaetodon species in this group have part of their body white, with the tail and often the fins yellow. Thin, fine black lines in various patterns also characterise this group. Species can be identified by the line patterning, shading, and positioning of large dark spots.

Chaetodon auriga
Chaetodon auriga with Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus - juvenile
Chaetodon ocellicaudus
Chaetodon ocellicaudus
Chaetodon selenae
Chaetodon ulietensis
Chaetodon ulietensis
Chaetodon vagabunus
Feeding frenzy on Abudefduf sp. eggs

Group 3: Chevrons or stripes



A very distinctive chevron pattern or very strong stripes characterise these species. Chaetodon flavissimus is fairly similar to C. trifascialis. C flavissimus is as long as high, red-brown and has a yellow line at the base of the tail fin, C. trifascialis is longer than high , has a distinct black stripe through the eye and no line at the base of the tail fin.

Chaetodon flavissimus
Chaetodon flavissimus
Chaetodon trifascialis
Chaetodon trifascialis
Chaetodon meyeri
Chaetodon meyeri
Chaetodon ornatissimus
Chaetodon modestus
Chaetodon octofasciatus - juvenile
Chaetodon  octofasciatus

Group 4: Yellow



These species all have a background body colour of mid- to dark yellow. Cheatodon lunula is unusual in that it feed both day and night.

Chaetodon bennetti
Chaetodon speculum
Chaetodon speculum
Chaetodon lunula
Chaetodon lunula
Chaetodon rafflesi
Chaetodon rafflesi
Chaetodon semion

Group 5: Bannerfish & Moorish Idols



Bannerfish (Heniochus sp.) typically are seen in pairs, though H. diphreutes can be seen in large shoals along drop-offs. Some species are very similar, but occur in different world areas.

The Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) is the best known schooling species, oftern occurring in hugh numbers on dropoffs. It is a plankton feeder, but doesn't miss the opportunity to gorge on Seargent Major eggs when a mass laying is taking place.

The variably long snouts of the Forcipiger species ensure that they have different target prey when living together.

Moorish Idols (Zanchus cornutus) have biologically nothing to do with Bannerfish, but because divers often associate them, they are included here.

Coradion melanopus
Forcipiger flavissimus
Forcipiger flavissimus
Forcipiger longirostris
Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Hemitaurichthys polylepis feeding on a drop-off
Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Heniochus acuminatus
Heniochus chrysostomus
Heniochus singularis
Heniochus varius - adult
Zanclus cornutus
Zanclus cornutus

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Distinctive species

Group 1: "Distinctive" Species

Chaetodon adiergastos, the Panda Butterflyfish is one of the larger species. It is often seen in pairs or small groups. C. ephippium has possibly the most distinctive patterning of all species, and can reach over 25cm long. Together with C. unimaculatus it is one of the shyest of butterflyfish.

Chaetodon adiergastos
Chaetodon adiergastos
Chaetodon adiergastos group
Chaetodon citrinellus
Chaetodon ephippium
Chaetodon kleinii
Chaetodon lunulatus
Chaetodon lunulatus
Chaetodon puctatofasciatus
Chaetodon puctatofasciatus
Chaetodon unimaculatus
Chaetodon unimaculatus
Feeding frenzy on Abudefduf sp. eggs
Chaetodon xanthurus

Yellow-white

Group 2: White & yellow

All Chaetodon species in this group have part of their body white, with the tail and often the fins yellow. Thin, fine black lines in various patterns also characterise this group. Species can be identified by the line patterning, shading, and positioning of large dark spots.

Chaetodon auriga
Chaetodon auriga with Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus - juvenile
Chaetodon ocellicaudus
Chaetodon ocellicaudus
Chaetodon ulietensis
Chaetodon vagabunus
Feeding frenzy on Abudefduf sp. eggs

Chevrons & strong lines

Group 3: Chevrons or stripes

A very distinctive chevron pattern or very strong stripes characterise these species. Chaetodon flavissimus is fairly similar to C. trifascialis. C flavissimus is as long as high, red-brown and has a yellow line at the base of the tail fin, C. trifascialis is longer than high , has a distinct black stripe through the eye and no line at the base of the tail fin.

Chaetodon flavissimus
Chaetodon flavissimus
Chaetodon trifascialis
Chaetodon trifascialis
Chaetodon meyeri
Chaetodon meyeri
Chaetodon ornatissimus
Chaetodon modestus
Chaetodon octofasciatus - juvenile
Chaetodon  octofasciatus

Yellow

Group 4: Yellow

These species all have a background body colour of mid- to dark yellow. Cheatodon lunula is unusual in that it feed both day and night.

Chaetodon bennetti
Chaetodon speculum
Chaetodon lunula
Chaetodon rafflesi
Chaetodon rafflesi
Chaetodon semion

Bannerfish, Moorish Idols

Group 5: Bannerfish & Moorish Idols

Bannerfish (Heniochus sp.) typically are seen in pairs, though H. diphreutes can be seen in large shoals along drop-offs. Some species are very similar, but occur in different world areas.

The Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) is the best known schooling species, oftern occurring in hugh numbers on dropoffs. It is a plankton feeder, but doesn't miss the opportunity to gorge on Seargent Major eggs when a mass laying is taking place.

The variably long snouts of the Forcipiger species ensure that they have different target prey when living together.

Moorish Idols (Zanchus cornutus) have biologically nothing to do with Bannerfish, but because divers often associate them, they are included here.

Coradion melanopus
Forcipiger flavissimus
Forcipiger longirostris
Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Hemitaurichthys polylepis feeding on a drop-off
Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Heniochus acuminatus
Heniochus chrysostomus
Heniochus singularis
Heniochus varius - adult
Zanclus cornutus
Zanclus cornutus