Fun Threadfin Butterflyfish Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Jan 31, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read more fun threadfin butterflyfish facts here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

The threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga), also called cross-stripe butterfly, Auriga butterflyfish,  whip butterflyfish, diagonal butterflyfish, belongs to the family Chaetodontidae. This fish is a marine ray-finned species and the most recognized coral reef fish. Threadfin butterflyfish have a white body with chevron markings on their sides. There are two recognized subspecies of the threadfin fish, Chaetodon auriga auriga, and Chaetodon auriga setifer. These two subspecies can be differentiated by the presence or absence of the dorsal eye spot. They are widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific region. These fishes also do well in aquariums and community tanks. The threadfin fish can be used as bio-indicators to monitor coral reef ecosystems. This fish belongs to the subgenus Rabdophorus and is a close relative of the Indian vagabond butterflyfish and vagabond butterflyfish. In the genus Chaetodon, there are around 90 recognized species and are all 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 find these facts about the threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga) interesting, then read more racoon butterflyfish and skate fish facts on Kidadl.

Threadfin Butterflyfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a threadfin butterflyfish?

The threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga) is a marine ray-finned fish and an aquarium fish of the order Perciformes and phylum Chordata. This fish is peaceful and mostly ignores other fishes in the aquarium. However, this fish can show aggression to the same kind. This fish can be shy at first but once they become acquainted with the aquarium environment, they live peacefully and will also easily eat aquarium foods. This fish species is active in the day and sleeps in hiding spots like crevices at night.

What class of animal does a threadfin butterflyfish belong to?

The Auriga butterflyfish belongs to the class of Actinopterygii of animals.

How many threadfin butterflyfish are there in the world?

The exact population number of Auriga butterflyfish in the world is not known.

Where does a threadfin butterflyfish live?

The range of the Auriga butterflyfish occurs in areas with coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. This range extends from eastern Africa (Mossel bay in South Africa) and the Red Sea through to the Marquesas, Hawaiian, and Ducie Islands, southern Japan, and south to Rapa Iti and Lord Howe Island.

What is a threadfin butterflyfish's habitat?

The habitat range of the cross-stripe butterfly occurs in regions with coral reefs. They inhabit a range throughout lagoons, inner and outer reefs, fore-reef slopes, and reef flats. They can also be found in deep waters at a depth of 3-115 ft (1-35 m).

Who do threadfin butterflyfishes live with?

The cross-stripe butterfly can live on their own, in pairs, or sometimes in a group even with other butterflyfishes. The young ones, however, can be found in shallow waters on their own. When one fish from a pair is separated, then that fish will swim up to another one.

How long does a threadfin butterflyfish live?

This species of butterflyfish lives for an average of five years in the wild. With proper aquarium care, they can live longer.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding of this threadfin coralfish species has not been successful in captivity. They are monogamous and pelagic spawners in the wild. Butterflyfishes spawn at dusk in low visibility which increases the survival of the eggs. The pairs remain together for years due to the low mortality rate of adults. The fishes will tend to find another mate if they lose their mate. Females release hundreds of thousands of eggs at once. As these fishes have a long breeding season, they frequently breed. These fishes reach their sexual maturity when they are 5.1 in (13 cm).

There is very little information about parental care during the breeding season. The eggs hatch after 30 days. Larvae then join plankton to move with the currents for 40 days before their metamorphosis stage. Some reports on the successful breeding of wild larvae are found.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Auriga butterflyfish (threadfin butterflyfish) is evaluated as Least Concern. Their population, however, is threatened by the destruction of coral reefs.

Threadfin Butterflyfish Fun Facts

What do threadfin butterflyfish look like?

The Auriga butterflyfish (threadfin butterflyfish) species has a small body and are boldly colored. The body is pearly-white colored which becomes yellow as it extends to the rear and onto the tail, anal, and dorsal fin. They also have black lines on their posterior parts. Their body is laterally compressed and broad with small, sharp teeth and elongated snouts. They have a continuous dorsal fin. Juveniles are similar to adults. However, adults have a long filament that extends from the fifth and sixth soft dorsal fin. Also, they may or may not have an eyespot on the back half of the dorsal fin. There is no difference between males and females.

Auriga butterflyfishes are hardy fishes and diseases in a well-maintained aquarium are minimal.

* Please note that this is an image of a blacktail butterflyfish. If you have an image of a threadfin butterflyfish please let us know at

How cute are they?

This marine fish species is considered beautiful due to its chevron markings.

How do they communicate?

These butterflyfishes communicate using visuals and chemical release. They fool their predators and prey using their appearance. However, there is not much information available on how they communicate with each other. Possible mechanisms to escape predators include their dark bands on the eyes and their posterior black spots. Also, they make their head look like their tail and tail like their head.

How big is a threadfin butterflyfish?

In the wild, these butterflyfishes can grow up to 9 in (23 cm). These fishes are almost 3 in (7.6 cm) longer than ornate butterflyfishes. Lined butterflyfish and saddle butterflyfish are the largest species of butterfly fish measuring 12 in (30 cm). In some butterflyfishes, the jaws measure 25% of their bodies.

How fast can a threadfin butterflyfish swim?

The exact swimming speed of these fishes is not known.

How much does a threadfin butterflyfish weigh?

The exact weight of these butterflyfishes is not known. However, butterflyfishes can weigh up to 0.04-0.17 lb (20-80 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female threadfin fish species.

What would you call a baby threadfin butterflyfish?

There is no specific name given to the baby threadfin fish species.

What do they eat?

The diet of these fishes is omnivorous. Their diet mostly includes planktonic food and directly on corals. They also feed on food like shrimps, algae, coral polyps, worms, gastropods, and polychaetes. They have a small protractile mouth on their elongated snout with sharp teeth. They use their snout to scrape out the surface of corals to find algae and small prey.

It is important to feed them a variety of foods in the aquarium, like frozen, live, and commercially prepared foods. You can also give them foods like frozen food with sponges, brine shrimp, flake food, pellets, vegetables, and Japanese nori.

Are they aggressive?

They are not usually aggressive. In a tank with the same kind of butterflyfishes, they can show aggression.

Would they make a good pet?

Auriga butterflyfishes do make a good aquarium pet. They do not need frequent changes of water and sudden water changes can cause them trouble. The minimum threadfin butterflyfish tank size must be 100 gal (379 l). The aquarium must-have decorations for these fishes to swim freely as well as to hide. These fishes are not reef-safe as they nip corals. It is not recommended to place coral reefs in the aquarium. The lightning must be moderate but they can also adapt well to normal lightning. The temperature must be 72-82 F (22.2-27.8 C)) and a 8.1-8.4 pH. The water movement in the aquarium needs to be weak. Suitable tank mates include gobies, tilefish, cardinalfish, flasher wrasses, and fairy fishes. They are also popular community fish.

Did you know...

Chaetodotidae is a derivation of two Greek words, 'chaite' meaning 'hair' and 'odous' meaning 'teeth.'

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

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

Butterflyfishes like threadfin butterflyfishes can act like a bio-indicator to monitor the coral reef ecosystem. A large number of butterflyfish in one area represent a large amount of coral reef. These butterflyfishes, their larvae, and the eggs are an important source of food to marine predators.

The fifth edition of the 'Fishes Of The World' book classifies the family Chatodontidae under the suborder Percoidei but placed under an unknown clade. There are seven families in this clade, which seem to have some type of relationship to Monodactylidae, Acanthuroidae, and Priacanthidae. Some authorities placed this family in the order Chaetodontiformes with the family Leiognathidae. Previously, there was confusion about whether the taxonomy was a subspecies or species before DNA sequencing.

Fossil records and evidence of this fish are limited because of the distribution of these species to coral reef habitats. Their fossils are dispersed by scavengers or do not survive erosion.

How did the threadfin butterflyfish get its name?

Threadfin butterflyfish are given this name because of their filaments extending to their dorsal fin. The genus Chaetodon has two terms meaning 'hair teeth' and 'coachman' in Latin.  Butterflyfishes are given names because of their coloration with various spots and their patterns.

Is the threadfin butterflyfish poisonous?

No, threadfin butterflyfishes are not poisonous. They are however susceptible to diseases even though they are hardy fishes. These butterflyfishes are susceptible to Marine Ich, Uronema marinum, Marine Velvet, and Lymphocystis. With copper drugs or medical care, these diseases can be treated.

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 lungfish facts and codfish facts for kids.

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

Threadfin Butterflyfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plankton, coral polyps, worms, shrimps, algae, and mollusks

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

Hundreds and thousands of eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical coral reef

Where Do They Live?

indo-pacific region

How Long Were They?

9 in (23 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Chaetodon auriga

What Do They Look Like?

White, black, and yellow

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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