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Related FAQs: Indonesian Butterflies, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

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/Fishwatcher's Guide Series

Butterflyfishes of Indonesia


Bob Fenner  

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Genus Chaetodon:

Chaetodon adiergastos  Seale 1910, the Panda Butterflyfish. Far west tropical Pacific in distribution. A coral polyp plus other invertebrate feeder. To six inches total length. This one in Pulau Redang, Malaysia. 

Chaetodon assarius Waite 1905, the West Australian Butterflyfish. A rare beauty outside the Land Down Under, where it's found all along the west coast. Generalized feeder on algae and zooplankton. To five inches total length.

No photo (yet!)

Chaetodon aureofasciatus  Macleav 1878, the Golden-Striped Butterflyfish. From all along Australia's northern coast over to New Guinea. Another coral polyp feeder. Images from off of Queensland in Australia. Go visit it there. Below; one, two and five (maximum size) individuals. 
Chaetodon auriga Forsskal 1775, the Threadfin Butterflyfish. A great beauty and hardy aquarium specimen, though it will eat coral polyps and anemones. See other materials on this species by clicking on name. Widespread Indo-Pacific. A juvenile (about an inch and a half long) in N. Sulawesi, an Auriga B/F in Hawai'i, and a Red Sea one w/o the rear dorsal area eyespot. 

Chaetodon baronessa Cuvier 1831, the Eastern Triangular or Baroness Butterflyfish. Like the similar Indian Ocean congener, Chaetodon triangulum, this fish is a strict feeder on coral polyps. Too often shipped out of Fiji, the Philippines and Indonesia. To six inches in the wild.

Chaetodon bennetti Cuvier 1831, Bennett's Butterflyfish. Central Pacific to Africa's east coast. To about six inches total length. Most all food consists of coral polyps. Juvenile and adult coloration in specimens in the Cook Islands and Fiji shown.

Chaetodon (Roaops) burgessi  Allen & Starck 1973, Burgess' Butterflyfish. Deepwater in Philippines, Sipadan, Australia, New Guinea. Not a great beauty, but much better than the aquarium photo here. To five inches long. Photo by H RMF of one in an aquarium.

Chaetodon citrinellus Cuvier 1831, the Speckled Butterflyfish. Aggressive in the wild, this is another broad feeder of invertebrates, including corals. Widely distributed and common, though never plentiful in the mid-Pacific all the way over to Africa. To five inches overall. A juvenile in Hawaii and adult in the Cooks

Chaetodon collare Bloch 1787, the Pakistani, Red-Tail or Collare Butterflyfish. Along the continental coast of the Indian Ocean Oman to the Philippines in distribution. A delicate looking species that fares well in general. Best shown and kept in pairs to groups. Image made in the Andaman Sea off of Thailand.

Chaetodon decussatus, Cuvier 1831,   Indian (Ocean) Vagabond Butterflyfish. A hardy beauty not to be confused with its congener loser from the wider Indo-Pacific, the Vagabond Butterflyfish, Chaetodon vagabundus which rarely lives (see below). An Indian Vagabond juvenile in captivity, an intermediate in the Andaman Sea and an adult in N. Sulawesi.

Chaetodon ephippium Cuvier 1831, the Saddleback Butterflyfish. To a large size (9") and too often collected too large for aquarium use (get one 3-4" best). Central and western Pacific. Very nice out of Hawai'i for use in the U.S. Broad feeder on benthic invertebrates including coral polyps. Aquarium, Fiji, and N. Sulawesi images.

Chaetodon falcula Bloch 1793,   Saddle-Back or Falcula Butterflyfish. A hardy addition to fish only and very large reef systems (to 8 inches long) if you can acquire initially undamaged specimens. Indian Ocean from Andaman Sea to east coast of Africa. This one in the Andaman Sea.

Chaetodon guentheri Ahl 1913, Gunther's Butterflyfish. Found along the Wallace Line, from southern Japan to eastern Australia. To five inches long. Aquarium image.

Chaetodon guttatissimus Bennett 1832, the Spotted Butterflyfish. Some folks rate this species higher for aquarium use, but it takes a beating often in transit, especially its small mouth. Tropical Indian Ocean. To five inches long. Generalized feeder on invertebrates (including coral polyps), and algae. A juvenile and adult in the Maldives.

Chaetodon kleini Bloch 1790, Klein's Butterflyfish. Widespread from Hawai'i over to Africa's east coast. To five inches overall. A hardy, but shy species that often perishes due to too much commotion and competition in captivity. Below: A juvenile and adult in Hawai'i, an adult one Redang, Malaysia.

Chaetodon lineolatus Cuvier 1831, the Lined Butterflyfish. At a foot long, vying for largest Butterflyfish of the family. Widespread from Hawai'i over to the east coast of Africa, into the Red Sea. A beauty that eats corals, anemones, much of all else, but doesn't live. Below: One in Hawai'i, another in Fiji, and a third in the Red Sea.

Chaetodon lunula (Lacepede 1803), the Raccoon Butterflyfish. Though not as attractive as its namesake in the Red Sea (C. fasciatus), the Indo-Pacific Raccoon is just as hardy, and a very good choice for eating pest Aiptasia anemones in reef tanks, though it will consume coral polyps in some cases. Click on name for more information, images. This one in the Cook Islands, South Pacific.

Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard 1824, the Redfin Butterflyfish. Easily confused with the Indian Ocean Redfin Butterflyfish, Chaetodon trifasciatus, this western Pacific to Hawaii congener fares no better in captivity. To about six inches long in the wild... leave it there. Here's a specimen in Fiji.

Chaetodon melannotus  Bloch & Schneider 1801, the Black-Backed Butterflyfish.  To six inches, mainly 3-4. Widespread distribution from Africa's east coast and Red Sea (pictured here) over to the mid-Pacific. Hardy, though it does eat soft and hard coral polyps. Red Sea images, 2 and 4" specimens. 

Chaetodon meyeri Bloch & Schneider 1801, Meyer's Butterflyfish. Widespread in the Indian Ocean to western Pacific Oceans, this species is another loser that is too-frequently sold as a "miscellaneous" butterfly. Only eats coral polyps... In the Maldives and N. Sulawesi.

Chaetodon ocellicaudus Cuvier 1831, the Spot-Tail Butterflyfish. A look-alike species for the more commonly offered Black-Backed B/F, C. melannotus. Similar in habits, hardiness. Centered in the other's distribution in the far western Pacific. This one off of Pulau Redang, Malaysia. 

Chaetodon octofasciatus Bloch 1787, the Eight-banded Butterflyfish. Often sold as a "misc." butterfly, this is a strict feeder on coral polyps... rarely lives more than a few days. A juvenile in Pulau Redang, Malaysia, a semi-adult in captivity and a more typical yellowish one in N. Sulawesi.

Chaetodon ornatissimus Cuvier 1831, the Ornate Butterflyfish. Yet another obligate corallivore. Yes, a beauty, but does not live in home fish tanks. Indo-west Pacific, Including Hawaiian Islands. To about seven inches in length. Commonly offered, doesn't live. Adult in Hawai'i by RMF.

Chaetodon oxycephalus Bleeker 1853, the Spot-Nape or Pig-Face Butterflyfish. Like the very similar and commonly (mis)offered Lined B/F, C. lineatus, this is a very large, poor-surviving species in captivity. Indo-west distribution from the Maldives to Palau. To ten inches. 

Chaetodon punctatofasciatus Cuvier 1831, the Spot-Banded Butterflyfish, though often (mis)sold under the common moniker as the ill-fated Dot-Dash (see below), C. pelewensis. Similar in distribution (western Pacific) and size (five inches or so). Eats most foods... including coral polyps in reef tanks. One in captivity, and a juvenile and adult Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/CountrySpeciesSummary.cfm?Country=Indonesia&Genus=Chaetodon&Species=punctatofasciatus

Chaetodon rafflesi Bennett 1830, the Latticed or Raffles' Butterflyfish. Indo-west Pacific from eastern India to the Tuamotus. Omnivore that does eat anemones and coral polyps. To six inches total length. Here in Fiji.

Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831, the Reticulated Butterflyfish. Nice looking, and "friendly" underwater toward divers, but dismal survival records in captivity for this coral polyp eater. Found commonly in central and western Pacific. To six inches total length. One in the Cooks, another in N. Sulawesi.

Chaetodon selene Bleeker 1853, the Yellow-dotted Butterflyfish. Western Pacific; Philippines, New Guinea, Indonesia... To 16 cm. Found near steep drop-offs. Generally in pairs as adults, single juveniles. Feed on benthic invertebrates. N. Sulawesi photo of an adult. 

Chaetodon semeion Bleeker 1855, the Dotted Butterflyfish. A touchy species that is occasionally imported into the West... found in the Indo-west Pacific from Sri Lanka to the Tuamotus of French Polynesia. This adult in northern Indonesia.

Chaetodon speculum Cuvier 1831, the Mirror or Oval-Spot Butterflyfish. A shy species that lives in coral rich areas where it feeds on same and other benthic invertebrates. To some seven inches in length. Eastern Indian Ocean to western Pacific. Ones off of Bunaken, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Chaetodon trifascialis Quoy & Gaimard 1824, Chevron Butterflyfish. This fish is way too often offered in the trade, belying it's wide distribution, mid-Pacific to the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea. Almost exclusively lives on eating Acroporid polyps. To seven inches in length. One in the Red Sea, another two during the day and night in Fiji.

Chaetodon trifasciatus  Park 1797, the Melon or Indian Ocean Redfin Butterflyfish. Like the same named Redfin Butterflyfish from the Pacific this is primarily a coral polyp feeder. Note the I.O. species much bluer dorsal coloration To about six inches long in the wild. Two Indian Ocean Butterflyfish, the first one in the Seychelles, the other the Maldives

Chaetodon ulietensis Cuvier 1831, the Pacific Double Saddleback Butterflyfish. A Pacific version of the Falcula or Saddleback Butterflyfish (Chaetodon falcula) of the Indian Ocean. Omnivorous eating habits, chowing down on many types of invertebrates and algae.. To about six inches in length. Aquarium adult pic. Click on name for more.

Chaetodon unimaculatus Bloch 1787, the Teardrop Butterflyfish. Often, too often imported from Indonesia, the Philippines and even Hawai'i... like the similar Indian Ocean species of the same common name this is an "iffy" fish that mainly perishes due to the rigors of human (mis)handling. Shown: at right: Juveniles of two and three inches in Hawaii and the Cooks.

Chaetodon vagabundus Linnaeus 1758, the Vagabond, Crisscross Butterflyfish. In the wild feeds on anemones, coral polyps, worms and algae. Compared with the similar Indian (Ocean) B/F (see above), Chaetodon decussatus, this species does poorly in captivity. In the Andaman Sea, and one in Fiji in the South Pacific

Chaetodon xanthurus  Bleeker 1857, the Pearlscale or Yellow-Tail (though it's more orange) Butterflyfish. Tropical western Pacific around the Philippines and Indonesia to Japan. A generalized feeder on benthic invertebrates and algae. Note cross-hatch pattern compared with C. mertensii and the Red Sea's C. paucifasciatus. Aquarium photo.

Genus Chelmon

Chelmon rostratus  (Linnaeus 1758), the Copperband Butterflyfish or Beaked Coralfish. Most die within a week or two of capture from trauma and starvation, dying "mysteriously" in the night. Due to better conditions in the age of reef keeping, some folks are able to salvage specimens, even hand feeding them. From the tropical western Pacific, to six inches overall length.

Genus Coradion:

Coradion altivelis McCulloch 1916, the Highfin Coralfish. Indo-West Pacific. To six inches in length. This one off of Heron Island, Australia's GBR. No ocellus and squarish caudal mark denote this species.

Coradion chrysozonus (Cuvier 1831), the Goldengirdled Coralfish. Indo-Pacific; Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia to the Philippines. To six inches in length. Off of Pulau Redang, Malaysia and N. Sulawesi. An oval black caudal peduncle marking and single ocellus denote this species.

Coradion melanopus (Cuvier 1831), the Twospot Coralfish. Western Pacific: Indonesia to Papua New Guinea and Bismarck Archipelago. To 15 cm. in length. N. Sulawesi pix. Not two ocelli.

Genus Forcipiger: Both members of this genus occur in Indonesia.

Forcipiger flavissimus  Jordan & McGregor 1898, Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish, Forcepsfish. Wide variety of foods taken, rarely corals. Widest distribution of B/Fs, from east coast of Africa to west coast of Central America. To eight inches overall length. Hawaii and Maldives photos. 

Forcipiger longirostris (Broussonet 1782), Yellow Longnose, Long Longnose Butterflyfish. With a longer snout than its congener and patch of dark spots on the chest to distinguish the two. Also hardy and about the same size. From east African coast to mid-Pacific. Dark color forms seasonally seen. Bunaken, Indonesia and Hawai'i pix. 

Genus Hemitaurichthys:

Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Bleeker 1857), the Pyramid (often sold as H. zoster) Butterflyfish. Zooplanktivore, living in midwater and feeding in shoals. Central and western Pacific, including Hawaiian Islands. To seven inches in length. Aquarium and Fiji images.

Hemitaurichthys zoster (Bennett 1831), the Black Pyramid or Zoster Butterflyfish. Indian Ocean from Andaman Sea to Africa. Zooplanktivorous, feeding in aggregations in midwater. Here in captivity and the Andaman Sea.

Genus Heniochus:

Heniochus acuminatus (Linnaeus 1758), the Long-Fin Bannerfish, or "Poor Man's Moorish Idol". (1) Widespread, central Pacific to east coast of Africa. Not in Hawai'i. To ten inches overall length. Cleaners as juveniles. Andaman Sea and Mabul, Malaysia images.

Heniochus chrysostomus Cuvier 1831, Pennant Butterflyfish.(1) Central to western Pacific distribution. To six inches long in wild. Similar to H. varius, which is much more commonly offered in the trade. One in Australian waters, another in Fiji, a third in N. Sulawesi. 

Heniochus diphreutes Jordan 1903, Schooling Bannerfish.(1) Similar to the "common Heni", H. acuminatus, but with smaller mouth and more rounded breast area. Zooplanktivore that excels in a large, un-crowded system. Cleaners as juveniles. This one in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.

Heniochus monoceros Cuvier 1831, the Masked Bannerfish.(2). To nine inches long, and "beefy" in profile. Mid-Pacific to east African coast. Takes all foods with gusto.

Heniochus pleurotaenia, Ahl 1923, the Phantom Bannerfish.(2) The two horn-like projections on this species head are definitive. To six inches overall length. Shy, needs plenty of hiding places to feel comfortable in captivity. Northerly coasts, islands of the Indian Ocean. This young individual in the Maldives.

Heniochus singularius Smith & Radcliffe 1911, the Singular Bannerfish. (2) Similar to H. monoceros, but easily identified by its black mid-body band starting in front, versus behind the dorsal fin. Indo-west and central Pacific.


Heniochus varius (Cuvier 1829), Humphead Bannerfish.(2) Western and central Pacific; commonly shipped out of the Philippines and Indonesia. Does eat coral polyps in the wild. This one off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. 

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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