Chaetodon melannotus

Black-back butterflyfish
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus, adult, Bali, Indonesia, Photo: Ian Shaw
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus, juvenile, Lord Howe island, NSW, Photo: Antonia Cooper
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus, Coral Sea, Australia, Photo: Andrew Green
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus, adult, Lord Howe Is, NSW, Photo: Andrew Green
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Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus
Chaetodon melannotus


Tropical Indo-Pacific


White body with oblique black lines leading to black patch on back. Face, belly, and dorsal, tail, anal and ventral fins yellow. Black saddle on tail base distinguishes it from Chaetodon ocellicaudus (Spot-tail Butterflyfish) which has a separate black spot on tail base.


Max Size: 18 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 19.1-30.8°C

Depth: 2-20m

Habitat Generalization Index: 21.95

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Occurrence: Frequent (17.2% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Few (2 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: RD Stuart-Smith, GJ Edgar, AJ Green, IV Shaw. 2015. Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland