Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch likes)
Family: Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfishes)

Genus/species: Chaetodon aya

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: C. aya is a silver–white-colored fish with yellow on all fins except the pectoral fins. It also has vertical dark bars on its eyes and near its caudal fin and a broad dark bar sloping down and backward from middle of spiny dorsal fin to base of rear part of anal fin.

Bank butterflyfish Chaetodon aya,Chaetodontidae_RJD IMG_2745

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Central Atlantic: North Carolina and northeastern Gulf of Mexico to Yucatan in Mexico; unknown in Bahamas and Antilles. Found along deep offshore reefs, marine; depth range 20 – 170 m (65 – 550 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: Mouth small, terminal and protrusible with a band or rows of small brushlike teeth. Most Chaetodontidae feed on a combination of coelenterate polyps or tentacles, small invertebrates, fish eggs, and filamentous algae.

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous, Form pairs during breeding

CONSERVATION: IUCN, Least concern. (LC)


REMARKS: Is shaped to hover and navigate holes and crevices in the reef. It has a small protruding mouth and many small teeth in both jaws to reach and eat food items unavailable to many other fishes.

The vertical line going through the eye disguises the eye and makes it harder for a predator to figure out which is the front of the fish and which is the back, perhaps giving the butterflyfish a brief chance to escape while the predator hesitates.

Butterflyfish and angelfishes, have evolved bodies which are deep and laterally compressed like a pancake. Their pelvic and pectoral fins are designed differently, so they act together with the flattened body to optimise manoeuvrability.


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018


Ron’s flickr