Butterflyfish is a type of marine fish. There are 120 species of the butterfly fish that can be found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Many people keep them as pets, which is not very simple because they require specific conditions of water. Butterfly fish live near the coral reefs which serve as hiding place from predators and as the source of food. Due to climate changes and ocean pollution in the last couple of decades, number of coral reefs and the number of butterfly fish decreased drastically. This group of fish is on the list of endangered species.
A quarter of butterflyfishes are obligate corallivores, meaning they only feed on living coral polyps.
Depending on the species, butterflyfish vary in size from 3 to 6 inches in length. Certain species may grow up to 8 inches.
Wrought iron butterflyfish, found only around Japan’s Izu Islands, reportedly sell for $3,800.
Butterflyfish is named that way because of the attractive coloration of their body. They can be black, orange, yellow, red, silver and white in color, with different kind of spots and patterns on their body.
Butterflyfishes are the most likely reef fish to breed with other species.
Many species of the butterflyfish have black stripes across their eyes and eye-like spots on the body. Both stripes and spots serve to confuse the predators and allow butterfly fish to escape on time.
The threadfin variety has been recorded hybridizing with at least seven other butterflyfishes.
Butterflyfish has flattened disk-shaped body. It has round tail and uninterrupted dorsal fin.
Butterflyfishes make several sounds that can be used to ward off members of the same species and aid communication between a pair.
Another interesting feature on the body is the elongated nose. It helps the fish to reach the food from the crevice of rocks.
Butterflyfishes that feed on coral polyps tend to be monogamous; the male defends the pair’s territory, allowing the female to feed.
The barberfish is a tropical eastern Pacific butterflyfish that cleans other fishes of their parasites.
Butterflyfish usually swims in the shallow water (up to 65 feet), because it eats animals and algae that can be found in this section of water.
The newest species of butterflyfish to be discovered was Basabe’s, found living at 180 feet off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and named in 2016.
Butterflyfish has a lot of predators. Large fish, sharks and eels often prey on butterfly fish.
Many butterflyfishes form pair bonds, but others form aggregations hundreds strong.
Butterflyfish are diurnal animals (active during the day). They take a rest in the corals and rock crevices during the night.
There are more than 130 species of butterflyfish throughout the world’s oceans; many live on coral reefs, but they also inhabit deeper waters.
Most butterflyfish live in larger groups called schools.
Many butterflyfishes have a black stripe through the eye, to conceal it, and a fake eye spot near the tail.
Certain butterflyfish are solitary until they find a mating partner. When they find a partner, they travel, hunt and mate together for the rest of their lives.
If you see a large number of butterflyfishes on a dive, that’s a good sign for the coral reef.
Butterflyfish spawns at the dusk (when the visibility is low) to increase the survival rate of her eggs.
The family Chaetodontidae — a combination of the ancient Greek words for “hair” and “tooth” — to which butterflyfishes belong, is named after their special comblike teeth.
Released eggs become part of the plankton. Most of them will be eaten by animals that feed on plankton. Baby of the butterflyfish is known as “fry”.
Five thousand fishes are recorded from coral reefs, but only 41 feed directly on hard corals as their primary source of nutrition. 60% of these are butterflyfishes.
Since they are very tiny and vulnerable at birth, babies develop armor plates which protect their bodies until they grow and become stronger.
Baby butterflyfish are called ‘fry’.
Average lifespan of the butterflyfish in the wild is 7 years. They live between 8 and 10 years in the captivity.
When butterflyfish spawn, their eggs become part of the plankton.