butterflyfish it is a conspicuous tropical fish of the family Chaetodontidae. It is a small marine fish that lives in tropical and subtropical waters, around coral reefs. It is well known for having complex markings and bright colors.


There are more than 100 species of butterfly fish throughout the planet.


Butterflyfish are generally small, measuring 10-12 cm in length. However, some species of butterfly fish can measure up to 20 cm in length. Some species such as the striped butterflyfish and the seat butterflyfish may be capable of growing to about 30 cm in length. In nature it can live for about 7 years, but in aquariums it can live for about 10 years.

It is genetically related to marine angelfish It has similar colors, but the angelfish is much larger than the butterflyfish. They are distinguished from angelfish by the spots they have on the body, by the dark bands around the eyes and by the mouth that is more pointed.

Colors can be black, white, blue, red, orange, and yellow. Other species have a dull color. Many have spots on the sides and dark bands on the eyes, as well as the patterns on the wings of the butterflies.

Butterfly fish

Butterfly fish


It is a diurnal fish, therefore it feeds during the day and rests at night on the reefs. The smallest species can be seen in large groups and the largest are solitary or maintain their mate for life.

When night falls, they hide in the crevices of the reefs and show a markedly different coloration.


Butterflyfish live in tropical waters around reefs, frequent at depths of 18 meters, although some species descend to 180 meters.


The butterfly fish is distributed throughout the entire planet, so it is present in almost all oceans. They can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. In the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there are several pairs of member species of the enormous genus Chaetodon.


Butterflyfish generally feed on plankton, corals, and sea anemones. Occasionally, they feed on small crustaceans.


The butterfly fish has as predators other larger fish, eels, sharks and humans who hunt them for aquariums.


The butterfly fish maintains its mate throughout its life. They release the eggs into the water that float to become part of the plankton. Many of these eggs will be eaten by other animals that live or consume plankton. When the egg hatches, the fry fish to protect themselves develop armored plates as they are very vulnerable. As the plates age, they disappear.

Shoals of butterfly fish

Shoals of butterfly fish

State of conservation

The butterfly fish is considered an endangered species. The main reasons are water pollution and loss of habitat. In the last decades the reefs are being destroyed (due to pollution, trawling, etc.) and without the protection of the corals they have difficulty surviving because they are exposed to predators and food is scarce.

Relationship with humans

The butterfly fish, despite being a marine animal, is caught or raised to live in salty aquariums. The butterfly fish requires very specific conditions that require constant monitoring to simulate the specific conditions of the sea water where it lives in the wild.

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