This butterflyfish, found on reefs throughout the western Atlantic, can be recognized by its distinct coloration. While many butterflyfishes are bright in color, this species is mostly white with a broad black band over the eye, and two more dark bands along each side. Like most butterflyfishes, its body is deep and laterally compressed with a continuous dorsal fin along its back. The diet of the banded butterflyfish is varied, and includes marine worms, coral polyps, tiny crustaceans and mollusk eggs.
  • Size

    6.5 inches (16 cm)
  • Diet

    Coral polyps, polychaete worms, crustaceans and mollusk eggs
  • Range

    Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil
  • Habitat

    Tropical waters in coral reefs

Physical Characteristics


  • Maximum length of approximately 6.5 inches (16 cm).


  • Predominantly white with two vertical black bars along sides and another vertical black bar covering eye. Fins black with white spines.


Animal Fact

The banded butterflyfish is typically seen singly or in pairs, but may form larger groups of up to 20 individuals while feeding on plankton. It has also been known to clean other reef fishes, such as surgeonfishes, parrot fishes and grunts.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of coral polyps, polychaete worms, crustaceans and mollusk eggs.
  • Rarely, groups as large as 20 adults gather to feed on plankton. Will also clean reef fish joining the assembly, including grunts, surgeonfish and parrotfish.


Range / Habitat


  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.


  • Found in tropical waters in coral reefs, commonly at depths of 15-60 feet (5-20 m). Depth range is approximately 9-165 feet (3-55 m).

Reproduction & Growth


  • An oviparous, or egg-laying species


  • Forms breeding pairs for reproduction.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Most often alone or in pairs.
  • Easy to approach.


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