Pyramid Butterflyfish, <i>Hemitaurichthys polylepis</i> Click to enlarge image
A Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis, at a depth of 26m, Mantis Reef, far northern Great Barrier Reef, November 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    polylepis
    Genus
    Hemitaurichthys
    Family
    Chaetodontidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 18 cm in length.

Introduction

The Pyramid Butterflyfish can be recognised by its colouration. The species is usually seen in outer reef areas close to drop-offs.

Identification

The Pyramid Butterflyfish can be recognised by its colouration. It has a brown to black head. The dorsal and anal fins are yellow. There is a large white pyramid-shaped area on the side of the body. The caudal fin is white.

Habitat

The Pyramid Butterflyfish is usually seen in depths between 3 m and 60 m in outer reef areas close to drop-offs.

Distribution

The species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western and Central Pacific, from South-east Asia, Christmas Island and Coco-Keeling Atoll, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to the Hawaiian and Pitcairn Islands. In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Feeding and diet

It often forms large shoals containing hundreds of individuals all swimming high in the water column feeding on plankton.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Butterflyfishes. Bannerfishes and their relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Chaetodontidae & Microcanthidae. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.
  5. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.