Threeband Butterflyfish, Chaetodon tricinctus Waite 1901

Other Names: Three-band Coralfish, Three-stripe Butterflyfish

A Threeband Butterflyfish, Chaetodon tricinctus, at Sugarloaf Island, Lord Howe Island, December 2008. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A easily recognised butterflyfish with a narrow brownish-orange band through the eye, two broad dark bands on the body and fins, a yellowish-orange bar above the pectoral fin and a yellowish-orange margin on the dorsal and anal fins that continues through the caudal fin.
The Threeband Butterflyfish occurs in eastern Australia, and in the Tasman Sea at Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs and Norfolk Island. It is one of the most common butterflyfishes seen at Lord Howe Island.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chaetodon tricinctus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Threeband Butterflyfish, Chaetodon tricinctus Waite 1901

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Recorded in Australia from about Currumbin, Queensland, to Bowen Island, Jervis Bay, New South Wales, and in the Tasman Sea at Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, and Norfolk Island.
Inhabits coral rich areas in lagoons and seaward reefs

Species Citation

Chaetodon tricinctus Waite, 1901, Rec. Aust. Mus. 4: 45, fig. 12. Type locality Lord Howe Island.


Dianne J. Bray

Threeband Butterflyfish, Chaetodon tricinctus Waite 1901


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

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.

Allen, G.R., R. Steene & M. Allen. 1998. A guide to angelfishes and butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing-Tropical Reef Research, Perth.

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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.

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93, 193-228 in Hutchings, P. (ed.). Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp.

Hoey, A.S., M.S. Pratchett, J. Johansen, & J. Hoey. 2014. 2014 marine ecological survey of Elizabeth and Middleton reefs, Lord Howe Commonwealth marine reserve. Report to the Department of the Environment, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

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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.

Pratchett, M.S. 2014. Feeding preferences and dietary specialization among obligate coral-feeding butterflyfishes. Pp. 140–179 in M.S. Pratchett, M.L. Berumen & B. Kapoor (eds). Biology of butterflyfishes. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL

Pratchett, M.S., Hoey, A.S., Cvitanovic, C., Hobbs, J.-P.A. & Fulton, C.J. 2014. Abundance, diversity, and feeding behavior of coral reef butterflyfishes at Lord Howe Island. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.1208

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

van der Meer, M.H., M.G. Gardner, J.-P.A. Hobbs, M.S. Pratchett & L. van Herwerden. 2012. Identification of 21 microsatellite loci for conservation genetic studies of the endemic butterflyfish Chaetodon tricinctus. Conservation Genetics Resources 4: 243–246.

van der Meer, M.H., J.B. Horne, M.G. Gardner, J-P.A. Hobbs, M. Pratchett & L. van Herwerden. 2013. Limited contemporary gene flow and high self-replenishment drives peripheral isolation in an endemic coral reef fish. Ecology and Evolution 3(6): 1653–1666. PDF

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365057

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:15 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map