IUCN Red List status:

Least Concern

For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredlist.org

Animal vulnerability index Animal vulnerability index

Butterfly fish have flattened disk-shaped bodies, round tails, uninterrupted dorsal fins and are named after butterflies due to their vibrant and varied colours. They can be a mixture of colours including black, orange, yellow, red, silver and white in colour, with different kind of spots and patterns on their body.

The unique appearance of the Butterfly fish is a great way for them to ward off predators. Many Butterfly fish have a black stripe through their eyes which is used to conceal them, along with a fake eye spot near the tail. This confuses predators as they are unable to tell which end of the fish is the head or the tail.

Butterfly fish will also communicate via sound, this is used to ward off members of the same species and help pairs of butterfly fish communicate with each other. In particular, the butterfly fish that feed on coral polyps will swim together and work in pairs – with the male defending the pair’s territory allowing the females to feed.

The barber fish (which is a tropical eastern pacific butterfly fish) is a particularly useful fish to fellow sea life. The fish cleans other fishes of their parasites and will even do this for sharks and mantas!

Certain species can grow up to 8.5 inches
The jaws of some butterfly fishes can measure more than 25% of their body length.
There are at least 129 species of butterfly fish
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