Fun Saddle Butterflyfish Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read more amazing saddle butterflyfish facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

The saddle butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium) is a marine ray-finned fish species of the family Chaetodontidae. This fish, along with lined butterflyfish, is a giant in the genus. Georges Cuvier, a French anatomist, first described this fish in 1831 and discovered it in the waters around Bora Bora. This fish belongs to the subgenus Rabdophorus and is closely related to the dotted butterflyfish (C. semeion). The saddle butterflyfish has a yellow-gray body with a large black spot bordered by a white band. This fish is found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans near Sri Lanka,the  Cocos-Keeling Islands, Tuamotu, Marquesan, the Hawaiian islands, southern Japan, and Australia, around corals. Also, they can be found moving in and out of crevices in search of food. This large fish does well in an aquarium with coral reef and any intermediately experienced aquarist can keep them.  In the genus Chaetodon, there are around 90 recognized species that are called butterflyfish. The butterflyfish species of the family Chaetodontidae are also called coral fish and banner fish. In this family, 12 genera consist of 129 fish species.

If you liked these facts, then make sure to check these rainbow cichlid and milkfish facts on Kidadl.

Saddle Butterflyfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a saddle butterflyfish?

The saddle butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium) species is also called saddled butterflyfish, saddled coralfish, saddleback butterflyfish, and black blotch butterflyfish. This fish is of the order Perciformes and phylum Chordata. These fishes are non-reef-safe fish but do well around corals in a tank. These fishes are not aggressive, however, can be territorial with their own kind. With good conditions and diet, they can one of the best aquarium fishes.

What class of animal does a saddle butterflyfish belong to?

Saddled butterflyfishes belong to the class of Actinopterygii of animals.

How many saddle butterflyfish are there in the world?

The exact population number of these aquarium fishes is not known.

Where does a saddle butterflyfish live?

The saddled butterflyfish species occupies a wide range in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This range extends from the Cocos-Keeling Islands and Sri Lanka through to Marquesan, Tuamotu, and the Hawaiian Islands. Also, you can find this fish to the north in southern Japan and the south in Rowley Shoals and New South Wales, Australia.

What is a saddle butterflyfish's habitat?

The saddled butterflyfish species is spread across tropical and sub-tropical regions. They occupy coral reef areas at a depth of 98.4 ft (30 cm). They inhabit coral reefs, rocky shores, clear open coral reef slopes, outer reef areas, and lagoons.

Who do saddle butterflyfish live with?

Saddled butterflyfish live alone, in a small school, or in pairs.

How long does a saddle butterflyfish live?

The lifespan of saddled butterflyfish is around five years.

How do they reproduce?

These fishes have not yet been bred in captivity. The saddleback butterflyfish species is pelagic spawners and these fishes release many tiny eggs into the water column where planktons float with the currents until they hatch. After they hatch in their post-larval stage, they are are covered in bony plates. Successful spawning of this marine species has not happened in captivity.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this saddleback butterflyfish species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Saddle Butterflyfish Fun Facts

What do saddle butterflyfish look like?

The appearance of this saddled butterflyfish species resembles a few angelfishes. They have oval-shaped bodies which are laterally compressed. Their body has a long snout, rounded tail fin, and small mouth. They have a yellowish-gray body with a large black spot bordered with a white band and blue wavy lines on their lower sides. They have a continuous dorsal fin and on mature adults, a long pennant kind of extension streams from dorsal filaments. Above the base of the pectoral fin, there is a narrow line and behind their head, a narrow vertical line. There is a reddish area in the caudal peduncle and the blackish caudal fin has a yellowish edge. They have yellow pelvic fins and gray anal fins.

The underwater Habitat of Saddle Butterflyfish

How cute are they?

These aquarium fishes are considered cute and are popular aquarium fishes.

How do they communicate?

These marine fishes communicate using visuals and chemicals.

How big is a saddle butterflyfish?

Saddle butterflyfishes are 12 in (30 cm) in length. These fishes are almost twice the length of ornate butterflyfish.

How fast can a saddle butterflyfish swim?

The swimming speed of these fishes is not known.

How much does a saddle butterflyfish weigh?

The weight of these fishes is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no particular name given to male and female saddle butterflyfishes.

What would you call a baby saddle butterflyfish?

There is no particular name given to baby saddle butterflyfishes.

What do they eat?

The diet of these fishes is omnivorous. Their diet includes coral polyps, fish eggs, filamentous algae, and small invertebrates. Their diet also includes foods like sponges and tunicates. In a fish tank, you can give them flake food. However, it is good to give them foods like shrimp, worms, meaty food, and tablets. You can also add commercially prepared food with algae and sponges to their diet. When you first feed this fish in a tank, make sure to give them different types of foods. Adults in a tank must eat twice a day and juveniles must eat three to four times a day.

Are they aggressive?

These fishes are not aggressive to other species but can be aggressive with their own kind.

Would they make a good pet?

They do make a good pet with proper space and different kinds of foods in a tank. These fishes need hiding places as well as space to swim freely. The minimum tank size is 100 gal (379 l) with moderate lightning.

Did you know...

These fishes have many predators like sharks, eels, sea snakes, and other reef fishes.

A unique characteristic of butterflyfishes is their long nose which helps them reach their food in crevices.

How did the saddle butterflyfish get its name?

The common name saddleback or saddle refers to their black spot with a white border. Some other common names are saddled coralfish and black blotch butterflyfish.

What are they types of butterflyfish and how are they different?

There are around 129 species in the butterflyfish species. The relative of the saddle butterflyfish, dotted butterflyfish (C. semeion) is of the same subgenus Rabdophorus. They are yellow-colored with a teardrop-shaped bar running through their eyes.The next closest relatives of this fish are blackback, spot-tail, and yellow-dotted butterflyfish. The blackback species' dorsal portion turns a different color when threatened except for two white patches.

The yellow-spotted butterflyfish is whitish with grayish spots running in a line and deep-blackfin butterflyfish have brown and white stripes and a black spine on their ventral fin. The black-nosed butterflyfish is silver-yellow-colored and as the name has black bands along their snout, also on their forehead and base of the dorsal fin.

There are many other types of butterflyfishes including the ornate butterflyfish, horned butterflyfish, the Red Sea butterflyfish, longnose butterflyfish, and blackfin coralfish. The majority of butterflyfishes are named for their coloration or different shapes of their fins and bodies.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these sucker fish facts and codfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring on one of our free printable saddle butterflyfish coloring pages.

Saddle Butterflyfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Coral polyps, fish eggs, filamentous algae, and small invertebrates

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

Many tiny eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical and sub-tropical regions, coral reef, rocky shores, clear open coral-reef slopes, outer reef areas, and lagoons

Where Do They Live?

indian and pacific ocean

How Long Were They?

12 in (30 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Chaetodon ephippium

What Do They Look Like?

Yellowish-gray and black

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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