Marine life of

#World's » #Butterflyfishes

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Butterflyfishes mostly range from 12 to 22 cm (4.7 to 8.7 in) in length. The largest species, the lined butterflyfish and the saddle butterflyfish, grow to 30 cm (12 in). The common name references the brightly coloured and strikingly patterned bodies of many species, bearing shades of black, white, blue, red, orange, and yellow. Other species are dull in colour. Many have eyepots on their flanks and dark bands across their eyes, not unlike the patterns seen on butterfly wings. Their deep, laterally narrow bodies are easily noticed through the profusion of reef life. The conspicuous coloration of butterflyfishes may be intended for interspecies communication. Butterflyfish have uninterrupted dorsal fins with tail fins that may be rounded or truncated, but are never forked.

Generally diurnal and frequenting waters less than 18 m (59 ft) deep (though some species descend to 180 m (590 ft)), butterflyfishes stick to particular home ranges. These coralivores are especially territorial, forming pairs and staking claim to a specific coral head. Contrastingly, the zooplankton feeders form large conspecific groups. By night, butterflyfish hide in reef crevices and exhibit markedly different coloration.

Butterflyfishes are pelagic spawners; that is, they release many buoyant eggs into the water, which become part of the plankton, floating with the currents until hatching. The fry go through a tholichthys stage, wherein the body of the postlarval fish is covered in large, bony plates extending from the head. They lose their bony plates as they mature. Only one other family of fish, the scats express such an armored stage.

  1. Eye-patch butterflyfish

    Chaetodon adiergastos

    cbpix (C) All rights reserved

  2. Threadfin butterflyfish

    Chaetodon auriga

    Ian Scott (C) All rights reserved

  3. Bluelashed butterflyfish

    Chaetodon bennetti

    aquapix (C) All rights reserved

  4. Foureye butterflyfish

    Chaetodon capistratus

    brian.gratwicke (CC: BY)

  5. Redtail butterflyfish

    Chaetodon collare

    aquapix (C) All rights reserved

  6. Indian vagabond butterflyfish

    Chaetodon decussatus

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  7. Saddle butterflyfish

    Chaetodon ephippium

    cbpix (C) All rights reserved

  8. Blackwedged butterflyfish

    Chaetodon falcula

    BernardP (CC: BY SA)

  1. Peppered Butterflyfish

    Chaetodon guttatissimus

    Boris Pamikov (C) All rights reserved

  2. Sunburst butterflyfish

    Chaetodon kleinii

    kaschibo (C) All rights reserved

  3. Lined butterflyfish

    Chaetodon lineolatus

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  4. Raccoon butterflyfish

    Chaetodon lunula

    stephan kerkhofs (C) All rights reserved

  5. Oval butterflyfish

    Chaetodon lunulatus

    Luiz A. Rocha (C) All rights reserved

  6. Blackback butterflyfish

    Chaetodon melannotus

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  7. Scrawled butterflyfish

    Chaetodon meyeri

    zsispeo (CC: BY SA)

  8. Spotfin butterflyfish (adult)

    Chaetodon ocellatus

    brian.gratwicke (CC: BY)

  1. Spotfin butterflyfish (subadult)

    Chaetodon ocellatus

    Brian Gratwicke (CC: BY)

  2. Spot-tail butterflyfish

    Chaetodon ocellicaudus

    cbpix (C) All rights reserved

  3. Eightband butterflyfish

    Chaetodon octofasciatus

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  4. Ornate butterflyfish (adult)

    Chaetodon ornatissimus

    zsispeo (CC: BY SA)

  5. Ornate butterflyfish (juvenile)

    Chaetodon ornatissimus

    NOAA Photo Library (CC: BY)

  6. Sunset butterflyfish

    Chaetodon pelewensis

    NOAA Photo Library (CC: BY)

  7. Blueblotch butterflyfish

    Chaetodon plebeius

    Paul and Jill (CC: BY)

  8. Spotband butterflyfish (whitish)

    Chaetodon punctatofasciatus

    Luiz A. Rocha (C) All rights reserved

  1. Spotband butterflyfish (yellowish)

    Chaetodon punctatofasciatus

    C.K.Ma (C) All rights reserved

  2. Latticed butterflyfish

    Chaetodon rafflesii

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  3. Mailed butterflyfish

    Chaetodon reticulatus

    Timothy Ewing (C) All rights reserved

  4. Reef butterflyfish

    Chaetodon sedentarius

    BernardP (CC: BY)

  5. Banded butterflyfish (adult)

    Chaetodon striatus

    laszlo-photo (CC: BY)

  6. Banded butterflyfish (juvenile)

    Chaetodon striatus

    Peter Leahy (C) All rights reserved

  7. Chevron butterflyfish

    Chaetodon trifascialis

    orlandin (C) All rights reserved

  8. Melon butterflyfish

    Chaetodon trifasciatus

    zsispeo (CC: BY SA)