A copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) photographed at Nebraska Aquatic Supply in Omaha
A copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) photographed at Nebraska Aquatic Supply in Omaha
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Butterflyfish

Common Name:
Butterflyfish
Scientific Name:
Chaetodontidae
Type:
Fish
Diet:
Omnivore
Group Name:
School
Size:
8 inches

Butterflyfish, with their amazing array of colors and patterns, are among the most common sights on reefs throughout the world.

Coloring and Bands

Although some species are dull-colored, most wear intricate patterns with striking backgrounds of blue, red, orange, or yellow. Many have dark bands across their eyes and round, eye-like dots on their flanks to confuse predators as to which end to strike and in which direction they're likely to flee.

Behavior

There are at least 114 species of butterflyfish. They have thin, disk-shaped bodies that closely resemble their equally recognizable cousins, the angelfish. They spend their days tirelessly pecking at coral and rock formations with their long, thin snouts in search of coral polyps, worms, and other small invertebrates.

Some butterflyfish species travel in small schools, although many are solitary until they find a partner, with whom they may mate for life.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Thomas Bannenberg, National Geographic Your Shot

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