Threadfin butterflyfish are found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are found in the Red Sea and the coast of eastern Africa, off the coasts of Australia and New Guinea, east to the Hawaiian, Marquesan, and Ducie islands, as far north as southern Japan, and south to the Lord Howe and Rapa islands. (Capuli, 2006; Nelson, 1984; Steene, 1977)
Threadfin butterflyfish are found in tropical coral reef habitats (Nelson 1984; Herald 1975; Jobling 1907). Although they are usually found where there is abundant coral, they are occasionally found in areas with sparse coral as well (Steene 1977). (Capuli, 2006; Herald, 1962; Jobling, 1995; Nelson, 1984; Steene, 1977)are found at water depths between 1 and 35 meters (Capuli, 2006).
- Range depth
- 1 to 35 m
- 3.28 to 114.83 ft
Threadfin butterflyfish are small, boldy colored fish (Findley and Findley 1985). They have a dark band running across the eye from the top of the head to the jaw, and a dark eyespot on the posterior part of the body (Nelson 1984). They have black lines and a yellow coloration on the posterior part of the body. They have broad, laterally compressed bodies and elongated snouts with small, sharp teeth (Moyle and Cech 2000). Adults can reach up to 23 cm (Steene 1977). Although young have patterns similar to adults, adults have a long filament extending from their dorsal fin (Steene 1977). (Findley and Findley, 1985; Moyle and Cech, 2000; Nelson, 1984; Steene, 1977)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Range length
- 23 (high) cm
- 9.06 (high) in
Butterflyfish release eggs into the water column, which are externally fertilized (Hourigan 1989). Embryos hatch approximately 30 days after spawning and the larvae then spend about 40 days floating in the water column as plankton before they metamorphose into juveniles (Hourigan 1989). (Hourigan, 1989)
- Development - Life Cycle
- Mating System
- Key Reproductive Features
- year-round breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Threadfin butterflyfish breed frequently. Factors influencing breeding frequency are not known.
- Breeding season
- Threadfin butterflyfish may breed throughout the year.
- Average time to hatching
- 30 days
- Parental Investment
- no parental involvement
There is little information known about the lifespan of butterflyfish.
Threadfin butterflyfish are found in pairs, but are sometimes found singly or in large feeding groups (Steene 1977). Threadfin butterflyfish use their tubular snout to poke into coral holes and crevices in order to find prey (Norman 1975). They can also feed by scraping the surface of coral (Moyle and Cech 2000). They are active during the day and are non-migratory. (Capuli, 2006; Moyle and Cech, 2000; Norman, 1975; Steene, 1977)
There is no information on home range in threadfin butterflyfish.
Communication and Perception
Threadfin butterflyfish are visual predators, and they use their appearance to fool potential predators. Little additional information is available on how they communicate with one another (Nelson 1984). (Nelson, 1984)
- Communication Channels
gastropods, nemertime worms, and polychaetes (Steene 1977). Threadfin butterflyfish have elongated snouts, with small protractile mouths that are filled with many small, sharp teeth (Moyle and Cech 2000; Herald, 1962 Jordan, 1907). They are able to use their elongated snouts in order to scrape the surface of coral to obtain algae and other small prey (Moyle and Cech 2000). (Herald, 1962; Jordan, 1907; Moyle and Cech, 2000; Pratchett, et al., 2001; Steene, 1977)are benthic feeding fish that feed mostly on plankton (Pratchett 2001). However, they are omnivorous, and also feed on coral polyps, algae, shrimp,
- Primary Diet
- Animal Foods
- aquatic or marine worms
- aquatic crustaceans
- Plant Foods
There are few documented predators of threadfin butterflyfish (Jordan 1907). Their spiny fins and quick speed make them difficult prey (Norman 1975; Jordan, 1907). Threadfin butterflyfish have mechanisms in order to deter and avoid potential predators. The dark bands over their eyes, as well as the posterior eyespot are probably mechanisms to confuse potential predators, making their tails seem to be their head and their head seem to be a tail (Nelson 1984). Other butterflyfish species have been reported swimming short distances tail first, and then rapidly swimming off in the opposite direction in order to confuse and escape potential predators (Norman 1975). (Jordan, 1907; Nelson, 1984; Norman, 1975)
Butterflyfish are dependent on coral reefs to obtain much of their food. The number of butterflyfish in an area is largely dependent on the amount of coral in a particular reef ecosystem (Ohman et al. 1998). In addition, butterflyfish are important in reducing the amount of algae that accumulates on coral (Moyle and Cech 2000). Butterflyfish and their eggs and larvae are important food items for marine predators. (Moyle and Cech, 2000; Ohman, et al., 1998)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
It may be possible to use butterflyfish, such as threadfin butterflyfish as bio-indicators in order to monitor coral reef ecosystems (Brokovich and Baranes 2005; Ohman 1998). (Brokovich and Baranes, 2005; Ohman, et al., 1998)are also kept in aquaria as pets.
- Positive Impacts
- pet trade
- research and education
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
are not known to negatively affect humans.
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Alison Rauss (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kevin Wehrly (editor, instructor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
- Pacific Ocean
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
- external fertilization
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
union of egg and spermatozoan
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
photosynthetic or plant constituent of plankton; mainly unicellular algae. (Compare to zooplankton.)
structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.
- saltwater or marine
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
- year-round breeding
breeding takes place throughout the year
animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)
Brokovich, E., A. Baranes. 2005. Community structure and ecology of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) in the Gulf of Aqaba (northern Red Sea). Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 15: S45-S58.
Capuli, E. 2006. "Chaetodon auriga, Threadfin butterflyfish" (On-line). Fishbase. Accessed November 20, 2006 at http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5557&genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=auriga.
Findley, J., M. Findley. 1985. A search for pattern in butterfly fish communities. American naturalist, 126/6: 800-816.
Herald, E. 1962. Living fishes of the world. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
Hourigan, T. 1989. Environmental Determinants of Butterflyfish social systems. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 25/1-3: 61-78.
Jobling, M. 1995. Environmental biology of fishes. London, New York: Chapman & Hall.
Jordan, D. 1907. Fishes. New York: Holt and Company.
Moyle, P., J. Cech. 2000. Fishes: an introduction to ichthyology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Nelson, J. 1984. Fishes of the world. New York: Wiley.
Norman, J. 1975. A history of fishes. New York: Wiley.
Ohman, M., A. Rajasuriya, S. Svensson. 1998. The use of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) as bio-indicators of habitat structure and human disturbance. AMBIO, 27/8: 708-716.
Paxton, J., W. Eschmeyer. 1998. Encyclopedia of fishes. San Diego, California: Academic Press.
Pratchett, M., N. Gust, G. Goby, S. Klanten. 2001. Consumption of coral propagules represents a significant trophic link between corals and reef fish. Coral Reefs, 20: 13-17.
Roberts, C., R. Ormond. 1992. Butterflyfish social-behavior, with special reference to the incidence of territoriality-a review. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 34/1: 79-93.
Steene, R. 1977. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World Volume 1. New York, Toronto, Chichester, Brisbane: Wiley-Interscience Publication.