Fish Friday Edition 3: The Butterfly Fish


Keilianette DeJesus, Student Writer

Living in Coral reefs of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean are a vast array of butterfly fish, a species also known as Chaetodontidae, a combination of two Greek words: Chaite meaning hair and odontos meaning tooth, presumably associated with the brush-like teeth in the mouth. 

The attractive coloration and flanks on their body, like other fish tactics, allows them to confuse predators. The flank, also called a “false eye,” creates an illusion to the predator to deter a potential attack from behind. In addition, their flat disk-shaped body and broadened nose allow them to reach food from crevices in the coral reef. 

Additionally, they have a sharp spine to provide protection, and allow them to make sudden stops or sharp turns. The fish measure about 12-22 centimeters (4.7-8.7 inches) in length.

With a diet that ranges from crustaceans and zooplankton, to coral, sponges and algae, the 100 species of butterfly fish are considered marine carnivores. 

Although they are not a culinary delicacy, this fish, like their airborne distant cousin the butterfly, makes the world a more beautiful place, which  is why they deserve our Fish Friday recognition.