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Crown Butterflyfish

Crown Butterflyfish

Photo copyright Tim Nicholson.
Taken in the Egyptian Red Sea.
Crown Butterflyfish, Chaetodon paucifasciatus

Found only in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the Crown Butterflyfish (Chaetodon paucifasciatus) lives between 4 and 30 m. You can spot it by its distinctive red rear, but its key identification feature is the yellow stripe through the eye. This species is the most common of all the butterflyfish along the Jordanian, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian coasts.

The Butterfly fish family or Chaetodontidae are small, colourful fishes with a continuous dorsal fin. Chaetodontidae comes from the Greek, meaning bristle teeth, and indeed they do have small, brush-like teeth. Most species are active during the day, resting among corals or rocks at night. Some species feed on coral polyps, and these tend to be territorial. When part of a coral is attacked in this way, the surrounding polyps often withdraw as far as they can into their protective skeletons. The fish then has to move further along the reef.

The Crown Butterfly fish likes to live around hard corals: an abundance of these fish indicates good hard coral coverage on the seabed. A scarcity in a previously abundant area, though, signals that the coral may be in trouble.

Further Reading:
Coral Reef Fishes, Indo-Pacific and Caribbean , Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers
Khalaf, M. and Crosby, M. P. (2005), Assemblage structure of butterflyfishes and their use as indicators of Gulf of Aqaba benthic habitat in Jordan. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst., 15: S27S43. doi: 10.1002/aqc.698
Khalaf, M. A. and Abdallah, M. (2005), Community structure of butterflyfishes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst., 15: S77S89. doi: 10.1002/aqc.708