Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch likes)
Family: Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfishes) The name “Chaetodontidae” means “bristle-tooth”.

Genus/species: Chaetodon sedentarius.

Reef butterflyfish  Chaetodon sedentarius ChaetodontidaeIMG_5652

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Silver body, yellow and black dorsal fin, and yellow tail; two vertical black bars, one on the head through the eye and a black bar across the caudal peduncle. Max length: 6 inches (15 cm). 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: a tropical western Atlantic species, found in the waters of the Carolinas to northern South America, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Lives in the shallows and as deep as the light restricts coral growth. ( 48-130 feet deep).

DIET IN THE WILD: Coral polyps, polychaete worms, shrimps, amphipods and hydroids. Can be quite acrobatic in its feeding, often swimming upside down to get into crevices where prey might be hiding.

REPRODUCTION: Found in pairs, suggesting monogamy. The larvae of butterflyfishes are unique from all other species of fish. The head is encased in bony armor and large bony plates extend backwards from the head. These larvae, called “tholichthys,” grow to about 20mm, after which they settle on the bottom during the night.

PREDATORS: Preyed upon by larger fish, such as moray eels, snappers, and groupers. If it can’t find cover, will defend itself by facing its predator with dorsal spines erected, suggesting a sharply distasteful meal.


CONSERVATION: IUCN:  Least concern (LC)

REMARKS: Gets its name from its flitting movements about the reef and its beautiful color pattern that resembles the movements and appearance of the insect. 

Caribbean reef,  Currently not on exhibit


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