Butterfly Fish Facts and Pictures

Most of the butterfly fish species exist near shallow craggy coral reefs. That’s where they search for food and seek protection from their predators.

So what eats butterfly fish? Large barracudas, moray eels, and most of the pelagic shark species will eat butterfly fishes as part of their normal diet.

In fact, the total number of recognized species is around 114. They range from the very smallest around three (3) inches long, up to the largest. In fact, adult butterfly fishes can reach around twenty 20 centimetres in length.

Most snorkelers and scuba diving enthusiasts will find marine butterfly fish in tropical and subtropical oceans. Thus, they thrive particularly well around the shallow reefs of the Indian Ocean.

The genus can live a solitary life quite happily. But, there are some species which school together in small clusters. Furthermore, once they find a partner they usually become mates for life.

Why are they Called Butterfly Fish?

They are ‘appropriately’ named butterfly fish because of their bright intricate patterns and striped or spotted coloration.

Even so, there are several species of butterfly fishes which are dull-colored. But, most have a conspicuous body which displays striking background colors of yellow, blue, orange, and red.

You can characterize schools of butterfly fishes by their thin disk-shaped flattened body. They also display an exaggerated and elongated snout. The dazzling fishes use their long narrow snouts to peck at rock and coral formations.

They search for small worms, coral polyps, and most small invertebrates. So, in many ways, they closely resemble the angelfish species – which happen to be their distant cousins.

What Creatures Eat Butterfly Fishes?

Let’s look at the predatory facts about butterfly fishes. In fact, the majority of the butterfly fish species are on the endangered species list. Moreover, the average lifespan for the genus is around seven (7) years.

They have several body markings that they use to confuse their predators. For example, many of them display dark eye bands and circular eye-like dots on their flanks.

Nevertheless, the fishes which eat butterfly fish the most include adult morays, most sharks, and many other big predators.

Note: There are several reasons why butterfly fish are endangered. But, the biggest threat to the butterfly fish survival comes from oceanic pollution and global climate change.

Interesting Facts about Butterfly Fish

  • Butterfly fish are omnivores, meaning they will eat meat as well as plants.
  • The largest butterfly fishes grow to over 20 centimetres in length and the correct name for their young is ‘fry’.
  • This particular species of fish are diurnal. Thus, they feed during the daytime on algae, zooplankton, worms, and small crustaceans.
  • The species use their long pointed nose to feed from the rocky crevices around the coral reefs and rocky outcrops.

Pictures of Butterfly Fish

The pictures show the copperband butterfly fish and yellow butterfly fishes.

Note: The fish families section has further information about animals and plants that live in the oceans. Check out other marine life found in the shallow waters around coral islands.