Tripleband Butterflyfish, Roa australis Kuiter 2004

Other Names: Triple-banded Butterflyfish

Tripleband Butterflyfish, Roa australis. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial

A whitish butterflyfish with three yellowish-brown to reddish-brown bands, the first through the eye, second extending onto the spinous dorsal and pelvic fins, and the thirdt extending onto the soft dorsal and anal fins,  and one on the caudal peduncle and caudal fin base, a slightly darker head, and a dark elongate ocellated spot on the soft dorsal fin partly encircled by a broad pale margin. The species occurs on mesophotic reefs off northern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Roa australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Tripleband Butterflyfish, Roa australis Kuiter 2004

More Info


Endemic to tropical waters of northern Australia, from just south of Rowley Shoals, northwest of Port Hedland, Western Australia, to the Arafura Sea, northeast of Darwin, Northern Territory. Depth range 97-205 m.


Dorsal fin XI, 19-25; Anal fin III, 16-18; Pectoral fin 13-16; Lateral line scales (tubed) 37-46.

Body depth 63-73% in SL.


To a standard length of 11.4 cm.


Body whitish overall with three vertical brown to reddish-brown bands - the first from the origin of the dorsal fin through the eye and over the lower cheek; second extending from below the 4th and 5th dorsal-fin spines to the mid-abdomen; third band extending from below the posterior 3rd to 4th dorsal-fin spine to the caudal peduncle, and narrowing onto the first soft-anal-fin ray.

Fin spines white; membranes of the first and second dorsal-fin spines black; soft dorsal fin with an elongate black spot with a broad white anterior border between 2nd and 7–8th rays extending somewhat below the black pigment; soft dorsal and anal fins with a submarginal white band; caudal fin mostly clear, pale reddish-brown at base; pelvic-fin rays brown to a dusky reddish-brown with a black margin and fin tip.


Although of no interest to fisheries, the species may be taken as bycatch in commercial trawls.


IUCN Red List: Least Concern


The name australis is from Latin, meaning southern, in reference to the southern Hemisphere distribution of this species.

Species Citation

Roa australis Kuiter 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus. 56: 168, fig. 1.Type locality: off Port Hedland, Western Australia, 18°24'S 119°02'E, 140 m.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Tripleband Butterflyfish, Roa australis Kuiter 2004


Allen, G.R. 1980. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons Vol. 2 pp. 149-352 figs 214-510 (p. 162, as Chaetodon modestus)

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (as Chaetodon modestus)

Kuiter, R.H. 2004. Description of a new species of Butterflyfish, Roa australis, from northwestern Australia (Pisces: Perciformes: Chaetodontidae). Records of the Australian Museum 56: 167-171. PDF available, open access

Pyle, R. & Myers, R. 2010. Roa australis . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T180103A7642592. Downloaded on 19 February 2020.

Rocha, L.A., Pinheiro, H.T., Wandell, M, Rocha, C.R. & Shepherd, B. 2017. Roa rumsfeldi, a new butterflyfish (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae) from mesophotic coral ecosystems of the Philippines. ZooKeys 709: 127-134.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. (as Chaetodon modestus)

Tea, Y.-K. 2015. Reviewing Roa: an intimate look at this handsome genus. Accessed: 20 October 2017

Uejo, T., Senou, H. & Motomura, H. 2020. Roa haraguchiae, a new species of butterflyfish (Teleostei: Perciformes: Chaetodontidae) from Japan and the Philippines. Ichthyological Research

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365006

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:97-205 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:12 cm SL


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CAAB distribution map