Pinstripe Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard 1825

Other Names: Lineated Butterfly-fish, Oval Butterflyfish, Pacific Pinstriped Butterflyfish, Pinstriped Butterflyfish, Redfin Butterflyfish, Red-striped Butterfly-fish, Striped Butterflyfish

A Pinstripe Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus, on Norman Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC By Attribution

A pinkish-yellow butterflyfish grading to yellow on the head and lower body, with oblique purplish stripes along sides, a yellow-margined black band through the eye and along the dorsal and anal-fin bases, a white caudal peduncle, and a reddish outer portion on the anal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, A.S., Chaetodon lunulatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024,

Pinstripe Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard 1825

More Info


Rottnest Island to the Dampier Archipelago, also Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier to Moreton Bay, Queensland, including reefs in the Coral Sea; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lord Howe Province and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, east-Indo-west-central Pacific. 
Inhabits areas with rich coral growth in lagoons and on seaward reefs. Juveniles recruit into live branching coral.


Dorsal fin XIII-XIV,20-22; Anal fin III,18-21; Pectoral fin 14-16; Lateral-line scales 30-39.Body depth 1.5-1.8 in SL.


An obligate corallivore - feeds only on coral polyps from a very wide variety of coral species.


Although sometimes collected for the aquarium trade, this species rarely survives in captivity because it feeds on live corals.


The species was considered a synonym of Chaetodon trifaciatus until Kuiter (1995) separated C. lunulatus, restricting C. trifasciatus to the Indian Ocean. Both species occur together in Indonesia (Randall 2005) and at Christmas Island (Hobbs et al. 2010). Chaetodon trifasciatus is known from both Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

Similar Species

The Pinstripe Butterflyfish is often confused with Chaetodon trifasciatus, which has more bluish tinge on the back and rear of the body and a yellow caudal peduncle. C. trifasciatus occurs only in the Indian Ocean.


The specific name is from the Latin lunulatus (= somewhat moon-shaped or crescent-shaped), presumably in reference to the oval body shape of this species.

Species Citation

Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825, Voyage Autour du Monde: 381. Type locality: Hawaiian Islands, or possibly Guam, western Pacific.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, A.S.


Atlas of Living Australia

Pinstripe Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard 1825


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

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Allen, G.R., Steene, R. & Allen, M. 1998. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Cairns : Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research 250 pp. figs.

Berumen, M., Pratchett, M. & Mccormick, M. 2005. Within-reef variation in the diet and condition of coral-feeding butterflyfish (Pisces: Chaetodontidae). Marine Ecology Progress Series 287: 217-227.

Burgess, W.E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the World. New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications Inc. 832 pp. figs.

Coleman, N. 1981. Australian Sea Fishes North of 30°S. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 297 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2  (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Francis, M. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Hobbs, J.-P.A., Ayling, A.M., Choat, J.H., Gilligan, J.J., McDonald, C.A., Neilson, J. & Newman, S.J. 2010. New records of marine fishes illustrate the biogeographic importance of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 2422: 63–68.

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Australia : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1995. Chaetodon lunulatus, a sibling species of C. trifasciatus, with observations on other sibling species of butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae). Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 21(3-4): 105-106.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Butterflyfishes, Bannerfishes and their Relatives. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp. (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Pratchett, M.S. & Berumen, M.L. 2008. Interspecific variation in ditributions and diets of coral reef butterflyfishes (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae). Journal of Fish Biology 73: 1730-1747.

Pratchett, M.S., Munday, P.L., Wilson, S.K., Graham, N.A.J., Cinner, J.E., Bellwood, D.R., Jones, G.P., Polunin, N.V.C. & Clanahan, T.R. 2008. Effects of climate-induced coral bleaching on coral reef fishes - Ecological and economic consequences. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 46: 251-296.

Pratchett, M.S., Wilson, S.K. & Baird, A.H. 2006. Declines in the abundance of Chaetodon butterflyfishes following extensive coral depletion. Journal of Fish Biology 69: 1269-1280.

Pratchett, M.S., Wilson, S.K., Berumen, M.L. & McCormick, M.I. 2004. Sublethal effects of coral bleaching on an obligate coral feeding butterflyfish. Coral Reefs 23: 352-356.

Pyle, R. 2001. Chaetodontidae, Pomacanthidae. pp. 3224-3286 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp.

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1825. Chapter 9. Poissons. 329-401 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.) Voyage autour du Monde...exécuté sur les corvettes de L. M. "L'Uranie" et "La Physicienne," pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris, Atlas pls. 43-65. See ref at BHL

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Rocha, L.A., Pyle, R., Craig, M.T. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon lunulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165704A6096562. Accessed on 06 July 2022.

Steene, R.C. 1978. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed Vol. 1 144 pp. 216 figs. (as Chaetodon trifasciatus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365059

Danger:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:3-30 m

Feeding:Coral polyps only

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:15 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map