Threadfin Butterflyfish (species: Chaetodon auriga) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Chaetodon auriga
Threadfin Butterflyfish

©Andy Lewis: An adult Threadfin Butterflyfish

©Andy Lewis: A unusually marked Threadfin Butterfyfish at Watsons Bay

©Paul Asman: Juvenile Chaetodon auriga at Clam Garden, Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Chaetodontidae
Genus Chaetodon
Species Chaetodon auriga



Distinguishing features

A small to medium sized yellow and white fish with a laterally compressed body. It has a black bar through the eye, a distinct cross hatch pattern on the sides, and a black dot at the rear of the dorsal fin. Distinguish from the similar Vagabond Butterflyfish by the presence of the black dot (not a vertical black stripe) and the trailing filament on the rear of the dorsal fin.


  • Up to 20 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of rubble and coral close to well developed reefs.

Found in most reef habitats around the island.


The Threadfin Butterflyfish is generalist feeder, taking coral polyps, invertebrates and some algae. It is usually seen in pairs or small groups near areas of coral, although it will feed over shallow reef flats quite some distance from the coral zone. The small juveniles recruit during the summer months, and may be seen amongst boulders in the high intertidal areas.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene (1990). Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other references

  • Arnal, C. (2000). Ecologie comportementale de la symbiose poisson nettoyeur/ poisson client: motivations et honnĂȘtetĂ©, Ph.D. thesis, University of Perpignan, France. LIRS catalog number 637.
  • Berumen, M.L. and M.S. Pratchett (2006). Effects of resource availability on the competitive behaviour of butterflyfishes, "Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium". : 644-650. LIRS catalog number 1018.
  • View all references