Latin name

Chaetodon ornatissimus

Other names

–°lown butterflyfish


Snout length 2.6-3.2 in HL. Body depth 1.3-1.6 in SL.

Features of fish fins

The dorsal fin has 12-13 barbs and 24-28 soft rays, while the anal fin has 3 barbs and 20-23 soft rays.  

Ornate butterflyfish need to be able to hover motionless in the air while nibbling on coral, and to swim short distances quickly to catch up with hiding organisms before they escape. They do this by using their pectoral fins as paddles for braking, sprinting, turning and reversing.

Fish colouring

Colour white with orange or orange-brown diagonal stripes on sides. Unpaired fins with two narrow black stripes along the edge. Head yellow with two broad black horizontal stripes, one of which passes through the eye.


It inhabits the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans from the Maldives and Sri Lanka to Polynesia and Hawaii, north to southern Japan and south to the Lord Howe and Easter Islands. 


Marine, coastal, tropical species. Inhabits outer and lagoonal coral reefs, found at depths from 1 to 36 metres.


Body length up to 20 cm. 


Adults live mainly in pairs and occupy areas such as clear lagoons and coral-rich nearshore reefs. Juveniles are solitary, usually hiding in branching corals. They form pairs when they reach breeding age. 

Food and feeding habits

They feed exclusively on coral polyps and cannot adapt to substitute foods. These fish have very fine, hair-like teeth that allow them to select small organisms that most other fish cannot eat.


Monogamous fish. Form temporary family pairs during spawning. Many mate for life. Spawning occurs at different times in different biomes. In the tropics, spawning peaks in winter and early spring, while in temperate latitudes it occurs in midsummer. Spawning takes place at dusk, with eggs laid and fertilised in the water column.


Not interesting for fishermen.

Relationship with a person

Keeping them in a home aquarium is impossible.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Chaetodontidae
Genus Chaetodon
Species C. ornatissimus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 20
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Not edible
Way of eating Planktonophage

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Ornate butterflyfish

Tags: ornate butterflyfish