Chaetodon trifasciatus

Melon butterflyfish | Lineated Butterflyfish | Pinstriped Butterflyfish | Purple Butterflyfish | Rainbow Butterflyfish | Redfin Butterflyfish | Three-banded Butterflyfish
Chaetodon trifasciatus
Chaetodon trifasciatus, adult, Maldives, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
Chaetodon trifasciatus
Chaetodon trifasciatus, adult, Bali, Indonesia, Photo: Ian Shaw
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Chaetodon trifasciatus
Chaetodon trifasciatus


Tropical Indo-Pacific


Yellow chest and head gradating into pale lavender towards back and tail, with darker lavender pinstripes along body. Black lips and black band through eye and on tail with another fainter band on gill cover behind eye. Black dash on one of the pinstripes on upper body. Orange tail base distinguishes it from C. lunulatus (Pinstripe Butterflyfish), which occurs in the Pacific Ocean and Western Australian coast. An Indian Ocean species; in Australia only found at Christmas Island.


Max Size: 15 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 21.4-31.5°C

Depth: 1-30m

Habitat Generalization Index: 9.53

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: Infrequent (7.5% 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 (3 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