The Great Fiji Butterflyfish Count


Butterflyfish are in the family Chaetodontidae.

They have deep, compressed bodies (oval-shaped when  side on, thin when head on).

They have small, pointed mouths, with small, brush-like teeth.


There are 116 species across the globe, including their close cousins the Bannerfish.


Most live in tropical waters, and are found where there are extensive areas of live coral, in 20m of water of shallower.

 90% of butterflyfish species are found in the Indo-Pacific, and in Fiji at least 27 species of Butterflyfish and 6 Bannerfish can be found.

(Drawing from “Reef Fishes of the World”, Lieske and Myers, ISBN 962-593-140-6

Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide

Family Chaetodontidae – Butterflyfishes

Order  Perciformes
Class:Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
No. of Genera: 10
No. of Species: 114
Environment: Fresh: No Brackish: Yes Marine: Yes
Aquarium: many
First Fossil Record: lower Tertiary,   lower Eocene             Ref.: Berg, L.S..1958
Remark: Atlantic (tropical to temperate), Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Primarily Indo-west Pacific. Highly compressed body. Dorsal fin continuous, with 6-16 spines and 15-30 soft rays. Spines in anal fin 3-5, usually 3, and 14-23 soft rays. Caudal fin with 15 branched rays, rounded to emarginate. Scales extend onto anal and dorsal fins. Mouth small, terminal and protrusible with a band or rows of small brushlike teeth. Gut coiled several times. Two anteriorly directed processes in swim bladder. Vertebrae 24 (11+13). Most with bright coloration, a dark band across the eye and an ‘eyespot’ dorsally. Generally near coral reefs. Typically diurnal. Many feed on a combination of coelenterate polyps or tentacles, small invertebrates, fish eggs, and filamentous algae while others are specialists or planktivores. Most species occur as heterosexual pairs. Pelagic spawners. Tholichthys larval stage with the head region covered with bony plates. Some of the planktivores and generalists do well in the aquarium, but most species are difficult to maintain, and obligate corallivores nearly impossible. Chaet- (gr.) = bristle, odont- (gr.) = tooth
Etymology: Greek, chaite = hair + Greek, odous, odontos = tooth, teeth. 1750 ( Ref. 45335).
Division: Marine
Reproductive guild: nonguarders
Typical activity level: normal
Main Ref.: Nelson, J.S..1994

All ID info from FishBase
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2008.FishBase.
World Wide Web electronic publication., version (04/2008).

Note: FishBase is also available on CD-ROM, with detailed information on population dynamics, genetics, morphology, trophic ecology, physiology, ecotoxicology, reproduction, etc. See the FishBase homepage or the FishBase book for more information. FishBase was assembled with the help of many partners and with the support of the European Commission and other sponsors. Contact us if you want to provide pictures, data or reprints.


For more Butterflyfish information:

A Guide to Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes
Author: Gerald R Allen, Roger Steene, Mark Allen.
ISBN : 0-9661720-1-9

Reef Fish Identification – Tropical Pacific
Author: Gerald Allen, Roger Steene, Paul Human
ISBN: 978-1878348364

Reef Fishes of the World
Authors: Lieske and Myers,
ISBN: 978-0691089959

Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific

Author: Terrence M. Gosliner, David W. Behrens
ISBN: 978-0930118211

Marine Life of Fiji and Tonga: A Video Identification Guide

Josh Jensen and Liz Harlin


A relational database with information to cater to different

More Butterflyfish Info

Butterflyfish BiologyButterflyfish Lifestyle
Butterflyfish FeedingCoral Biology
Butterflyfish PairingCoral Growth Forms