Redfin Butterflyfish (species: Chaetodon lunulatus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Chaetodon lunulatus
Redfin Butterflyfish

©Andy Lewis: An adult Redfin Butterflyfish

©Andy Lewis: A juvenile Redfin Butterfyfish at Mermaid Cove

©Andy Lewis: An adult Redfin Butterfyfish at Mermaid Cove
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Chaetodontidae
Genus Chaetodon
Species Chaetodon lunulatus



Distinguishing features

A small to medium sized pinkish-yellow fish with a series of horizontal purple lines on the body, and black stripes through the eye, ventral fin and tail.


  • Up to 15 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.


Similar taxa

  • Animalia: species: Chaetodon trifasciatus
    Chaetodon lunulatus ������������������������������������������is widespread in the Pacific and extends into the eastern Indian Ocean while Chaetodon trifasciatus is found only in the Indian Ocean. Both species occur at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and they hybridise there. The species are distinguished by the colour of the caudal peduncle (yellow in Chaetodon trifasciatus, white in Chaetodon lunulatus) and by the dark eyestripe continuing over the head in Chaetodon lunulatus but not in Chaetodon trifasciatus (Montanari et al, 2011). Older records of Chaetodon trifasciatus from Lizard Island are thus likely to be misidentified specimens of Chaetodon lunulatus.


Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy and Gaimard, 1825 is a valid name. Chaetodon lunulatus Shaw, 1803 is a different species, a synonym of Chaetodon lunula (Lacepede, 1802) (ITIS, 9 May 2012)

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of rich coral growth.

Found in most reef habitats around the island.


The Redfin Butterflyfish is specialist hard-coral feeder, taking polyps from a wide range of coral taxa including Acroporid, Pocilloporid, and Poritid corals. It is usually seen near areas of good hard coral cover, and upon maturation fish form monagamous pairs which remain together thereafter.

Web resources


  • Bellwood, D.R., S. Klanten, P.F. Cowman, M.S. Pratchett, N. Konow and L. van Herwerden (2009). Evolutionary history of the butterflyfishes (f: Chaetodontidae) and the rise of coral feeding fishes, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, doi 10.1111: j1420-9101200901904x. LIRS catalog number 1348.
  • Berumen, M.L. (2000). Influence of diet and habitat on the condition of butterflyfish, M.Sc. thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 719.
  • Berumen, M.L. (2005). The importance of juveniles in modelling growth: butterflyfish at Lizard Island, Environmental Biology of Fishes, 72: 409-413. LIRS catalog number 996.
  • View all references