Animal Species:Lord Howe Butterflyfish, Amphichaetodon howensis (Waite, 1903)

The Lord Howe Butterflyfish has a pointed snout and five black bands on the sides. It occurs in subtropical marine waters along the eastern coastline of Australia and as its standard name suggests, from Lord Howe Island.

Lord Howe Butterflyfish at Tathra Wharf

Lord Howe Butterflyfish at Tathra Wharf
Photographer: Sascha Schulz © Sascha Schulz

Standard Common Name

Lord Howe Butterflyfish

Alternative Name/s

Broad-barred Butterflyfish, Lord Howe Coralfish, Lord Howe Island Butterflyfish


The Lord Howe Butterflyfish can be recognised by its colouration. It is yellow above fading to silver on the sides and below. There are five black bands on the sides and another along the top of the snout. The pelvic fins are white anteriorly and black posteriorly. This species has a moderately elongate snout and long dorsal and anal spines.

Size range

The species grows to 18 cm in length.


The Lord Howe Butterflyfish occurs in warm temperate waters in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is known from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales. It is also recorded from Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

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.

Amphichaetodon howensis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Lord Howe Butterflyfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The species occurs on rocky reefs with coral cover.  It is known from depths between 10 m and 50 m.

Feeding and Diet

The Lord Howe Butterflyfish eats small invertebrates.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Adults are usually seen in pairs. Juveniles are often solitary.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & M. Allen. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research. Pp. 250.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Butterflyfishes. Bannerfishes and their relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Chaetodontidae & Microcanthidae. TMC Publishing. Pp. 208.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Lord Howe Butterflyfish, Amphichaetodon howensis, Chaetodontidae, black, white, yellow, 'normal fish', 10 cm - 30 cm, stripes and bands, marine, adult,


Mark McGrouther - 8.02 AM, 22 February 2010

Thanks Sascha,  That's really interesting information! Mark.

Sascha Schulz - 10.02 AM, 19 February 2010

In reference to my image above:

The fish pictured was one of a pair. The two stuck close together while feeding on what appeared to be bryazoans encrusting the pylons of the wharf. They also picked at the surface of Ecklonia kelp, which again, appeared to be feeding behaviour.

If the pair was seperated during their movements by more than a metre or so, one of them would quickly dash back to find its partner.

Judging by their size, they were juveniles.

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