Reticulate Butterflyfish, Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831

Other Names: Black Butterflyfish, Mailed Butterflyfish, Mailed Coralfish, Reticulated Butterfly, Reticulated Butterflyfish

A Reticulate Butterflyfish, Chaetodon reticulatus, on Day Reef near Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Kendall Clements / License: CC BY Attribution

A blackish butterflyfish with a pale back, pale grey scale centres, a broad yellow-edged black bar through the eye, and an orange margin on the rear anal-fin rays. The Reticulate Butterflyfish is a coral specialist, feeding solely on live corals.
Video of butterflyfishes, including Reticulate Butterflyfish, at Morane, French Polynesia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chaetodon reticulatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Reticulate Butterflyfish, Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831

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Known from the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, with juveniles as far south as the Solitary Islands, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is occurs in the tropical west-central Pacific. 
Inhabits areas of rich coral growth usually on exposed outer reefs, and occasionally in lagoons - usually in pairs, although solitary individuals and small aggregations may be seen.


Carnivore - feeds on live coral.


Although occasionally seen in the aquarium trade, most individuals starve due to their specialised coral diet.

Species Citation

Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 7: 32. Type locality: Tahiti and the South seas.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Reticulate Butterflyfish, Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831


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. & Myers, R. 2010. Chaetodon reticulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165713A6098956. Downloaded on 16 March 2016.

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

Bellwood, D.R., S. Klanten, P.F. Cowman, M.S. Pratchett, N. Konow and L. van Herwerden. 2009. Evolutionary history of the butterflyfishes (f: Chaetodontidae) and the rise of coral feeding fishes. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, doi 10.1111: j1420-9101200901904x

Berumen, M.L. & Pratchett, M.S. 2006. Recovery without resilience: persistent disturbance and long-term shifts in the structure of fish and coral communities at Tiahura Reef, Moorea. Coral Reefs 25: 647-653.

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

Cole, A.J., Pratchett, M.S. & Jones, G.P. 2008. Diversity and functional importance of coral-feeding fishes on tropical coral reefs. Fish and Fisheries 9: 286-307.

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1831. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 7 531 pp. pls 170-208.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365054

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:1-30 m

Feeding:Live coral only

Fishing:Aquarium fish (difficult)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:16 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map