Lined Butterflyfish – Facts and Photographs

Lined Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus) is also known as the Line Butterflyfish, Lined Butterfly and New-moon Coralfish

The Lined Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus) is also known as the Line Butterflyfish, Lined Butterfly and New-moon Coralfish .  They are the largest of the Butterflyfish and are widely distributed but are not common in any part of their range.


The body of the Lined Butterflyfish is a typical butterflyfish shape, laterally compressed and oval with a pointed nose. The main body color is white with solid thin black vertical stripes down the main part of the body. On the rear upper body there is a black stripe that follows the body tapering down to a point in the caudal area. A yellow line is immediately adjacent to this area allowing the vertical black stripes to show through.

There is a black bar through the eyes which leaves a white circle above the eyes on the front of the body.  The  dorsal fin is yellow as is the anal fin and the pelvic and pectoral fins are white. They have a pointed mouth with sharp, narrow teeth and grow to up to 30 cm. In the wild most seem to be 15 to 18cm. It is impossible to sex them from their looks.

Lined Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lineolatus) is also known as the Line Butterflyfish, Lined Butterfly and New-moon Coralfish


The Lined butterflyfish are mainly seen on deeper reefs in Tanzania usually in pairs but sometimes singularly. They are reputed to live for up to ten years in the wild although there is reportedly unpublished evidence of them living for up to fifty years.  In Tanzania they are usually found in coral rich areas with a fair amount of current.


Lined butterflyfish are found from South Africa, north to the Red Sea and across to Southern Japan, down to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Lord Howe Island and across to Hawaii.  They are  found from 2 to 170 meters in depth but in Tanzanian waters but are more common below 15 meters.

Chaetodon lineolatus 3

[/divider]LINED BUTTERFLYFISH DIET[/divider]

Lined butterflyfish are omnivores and feed on a variety of foods ranging from algae, tubeworms, nudibranchs, anemones, coral polyps and small benthic crustaceans.


Little is known about the mating habits of the Lined Butterflyfish. They are often seen in pairs.  As with most Butterflyfish, the female swells with eggs and spawning takes place by scattering into the water table with the male fertilizing the eggs.

The eggs are spherical and buoyant and it is thought they hatch in 28 to 30 hours. Once the eggs hatch a bony plate forms over the head area and the larvae called tholichthys, are pelagic for quite some time. They slowly develop into  juveniles. This phase makes it extremely difficult to breed butterflyfish in aquariums.

Chaetodon lineolatus 2


Lined butterflyfish are sometimes kept in aquariums but due to their habit of picking on anemones, coral and other invertebrates are not that commonly kept. Their potential size of up to 30cm would require a very large aquarium. They are not reef safe.

Chaetodon lineolatus 1


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Chaetodontidae
Genus: Chaetodon
Species: C.  lineolatus


Allen, Gerald R. 1979. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Vol. 2.

Burgess, Warren E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the World; A Monograph of the Family Chaetodontidae. T.F.H. Publications, NJ.832 pp.

The Reef Guide: Southern Africa’s East and South Coasts
Dennis King and Valda Fraser

The butterflyfishes: success on the coral reef
edited by Philip J. Motta



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