Vagabond Butterflyfish Click to enlarge image
A Vagabond Butterflyfish at a depth of 19m, Steve's Bommie, Ribbon Reef #3, Great Barrier Reef off Cooktown, December 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    vagabundus
    Genus
    Chaetodon
    Family
    Chaetodontidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 23 cm in length.

Introduction

The Vagabond Butterflyfish has a white body with two series of narrow dark lines set at right angles. The species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific.

Identification

The Vagabond Butterflyfish has a white body with two series of narrow dark lines set at right angles. A broad black band passes through the eye and yellow horizontal lines cross the interorbital region. A black band is present at the rear of the body and another through the caudal fin. The soft dorsal, anal and caudal fins are yellow.

Juvenile Vagabond Butterflyfish resemble the adults, but have a black spot at the rear of the dorsal fin.


Vagabond Butterflyfish pair
A pair of Vagabond Butterflyfish forage on surfaces not covered by algae on the reef flat at North Point. Image taken not long after Cyclone Ita. Image: Anne Hoggett
© Australian Museum

Habitat

Vagabond Butterflyfish inhabit coral reefs and lagoons, often in areas of high turbidity and freshwater influxes. This fish is usually seen in pairs or small groups.

It is found in depths from 1 m to 30 m.

Distribution

This species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific, from East Africa, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to the Tuamoto Islands.

In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to the southern coast of 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

The diet consists of coral polyps, anemones, polychaete worms and algae.

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. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.