Some Butterflyfish only eat the tentacles of the actual coral animals, and so are totally dependant on good coral health.

Others are less choosy and may feed on other small animals or algae around the reef, or even out in the deeper water.

If you find a reef is dominated by one or two species you may be able to draw some conclusions about the reef type in that area.

Fiji’s Butterflyfish species and the food they eat.

Common name Scientific name Hard Corals Soft Corals Benthic Invertebrates Algae Zooplankton
Bennetts butterfly Chaetodon bennetti X        
Black butterfly Chaetodon flavirostris X   X X  
Blackbacked butterfly Chaetodon melannotus X X      
Bluespot butterfly Chaetodon plebeius X        
Cheveroned butterfly Chaetodon trifascialis X     X  
Dot and dash butterfly Chaetodon pelewensis X   X    
Dotted butterfly Chaetodon semeion          
Double-saddled butterfly Chaetodon ulietensis     X X  
Forceps butterfly Forcipiger flavissimus     X    
Fourspot butterfly Chaetodon quadrimaculatus X        
Klein’s butterfly Chaetodon kleinii     X   X
Latticed butterfly Chaetodon rafflessi X X X X X
Lined butterfly Chaetodon linoelatus   X X X  
Long-nosed butterfly Forcipiger longirostris     X    
Merten’s butterfly Chaetodon mertensii     X X  
Ornate butterfly Chaetodon ornatissimus X        
Pyramid butterfly Hemitaurichthys polylepsis         X
Racoon butterfly Chaetodon lunula X X X X X
Redfin butterfly Chaetodon lunulatus X        
Reticulated butterfly Chaetodon reticulatus X        
Saddled butterfly Chaetodon ephippium X X X X X
Speckled butterfly Chaetodon citrinellus X X X X X
Spot-nape butterfly Chaetodon oxycephalus   X      
Teardrop butterfly Chaetodon unimaculatus X X X X X
Threadfin butterfly Chaetodon auriga X X X X X
Triangle butterfly Chaetodon baronessa X        
Vagabond butterfly Chaetodon vagabundus X X X X X

For more Butterflyfish information:

A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes

Gerald R Allen, Roger Steene, Mark Allen.

ISBN 0-9661720-1-9; Buy New: $20.00


Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide Reef Fishes of the World

Lieske and Myers, ISBN 962-593-140-6



Corals of the World, Vol. 1, 2, 3

Jen Veron, ISBN 0-642-32236-8


Marine Life of Fiji and Tonga: A Video Identification Guide

Josh Jensen and Liz Harlin



A relational database with information to cater to different professionals such as research scientists, fisheries managers, and zoologists.