Butterfly fish are a group of tropical marine fish with colorful and patterned bodies.
They have thin, flattened, disk-shaped bodies, with an uninterrupted dorsal fin.
Most species have elongated noses which allow them to reach small crevices to feed.
They closely resemble the angelfish, but they are smaller and lack the preopercle spines at the gill covers.
Many butterfly fish have dark bands across their eyes, and round dots on their flanks which can be confused with eyes to predators.
This confuses the predators as to which way the fish is likely to flee.
Their vivid patterns in whites, blues, reds, oranges, yellows, and blacks vary depending on the species and the habitat.
Some species are duller in color, yet still with intricate patterns.
Butterfly fish are mostly found on the coral reefs of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, in tropical and subtropical waters.
They feed on plankton, coral and sea anemones.
The smaller species tend to stay in groups, whereas the larger species are usually solitary or swim with their mating partner, with whom they mate for life.
Butterfly fish are diurnal animals, which means they are active and feed during the day and rest on the coral during the night.
Some of the best known species of butterfly fish are:
- The Auriga Butterflyfish, which has a black and white striped body with yellow fins and a black spot on the rear of the dorsal fin.
- The Raccoon Butterflyfish, which has a yellow body with black bands around the eyes and a black patch on the tail.
- The Copperband Butterflyfish, which has a white body with copper-colored vertical stripes and a long snout.
- The Saddle Butterflyfish, which has a yellow body with a black saddle-shaped patch on the back and a black spot on the eye.