Spot-tail Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellicaudus Cuvier 1831

Other Names: Spot-tail Butterfly Fish, Spottail Butterflyfish, Spot-tail Coralfish, Tail-spot Butterflyfish

A Spot-tail Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellicaudus, at Madang, Papua New Guinea, February 2010. Source: Jan Messersmith / License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A whitish butterflyfish encircled in yellow, with many diagonal black stripes, a black bar through the eye, and a black spot on the caudal peduncle.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chaetodon ocellicaudus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Spot-tail Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellicaudus Cuvier 1831

More Info


Scott Reef, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef to Moreton Bay, Queensland; also reefs in the Coral Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, east-Indo-west Pacific - from northern Borneo (Malaysia) and Java to the Solomon Islands and north throughout the Philippines and south to Scott/Seringapatam reefs off the northwest Australian shelf and northern Great Barrier Reef.

Inhabits coral-rich areas of lagoons and outer reefs, most commonly on steep outer reef slopes and in reef crest channels. Occurs singly or in pairs, at depths of 1-50 m. 


Dorsal fin XIII, 19-20; Anal fin III, 17-18; Pectoral fin 13-14; Lateral-line scales 29-34.


An obligate corallivore - feeds only on coral polyps, mostly soft corals.


The species is occasionally traded in the aquarium industry.


As this species relies on live coral for food and recruitment, populations are likely to be affected by habitat loss, including coral bleaching due to warming oceans.

Similar Species

The Spot-tail Butterflyfish differs from the very similar Black-backed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon melannotus), in having a paler back, usually 14 (vs 15) pectoral-fin rays, a black spot (vs a black saddle) on the caudal peduncle, and no black marking on the anterior base of the anal fin.

Species Citation

Chaetodon ocellicaudus Cuvier 1831, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 7: 69. No type locality given.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Spot-tail Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellicaudus Cuvier 1831


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365046

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:1-50 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:14 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map