Margined Coralfish, Chelmon marginalis Richardson 1842

Other Names: Margined Coral Fish, Western Beaked Butterflyfish, Willemawillum

Margined Coralfish, Chelmon marginalis, at Enderby Island, Dampier Marine Park, Western Australia. Source: Graham Edgar / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A stunning silvery white butterflyfish with two narrow orange bars on the head and anterior body, and a broad yellowish or yellowish-orange band near the tail base. Adults lack a false eyespot or ocellus on the dorsal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Chelmon marginalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Dec 2023,

Margined Coralfish, Chelmon marginalis Richardson 1842

More Info


Endemic to northern Australia from the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, to the northern Great Barrier Reef, and reefs in the Coral Sea, Queensland. 

Inhabits coastal coral and rocky reefs and nearshore islands.


Carnivore - feeds on benthic invertebrates such as crabs, shrimps, polychaete worms.


IUCN Red List of threatened species: Least Concern


The specific name is from the Latin marginalis (= bordered, edged), in reference to the yellow and blue marginal bands on the soft dorsal and anal fins of this species.

Species Citation

Chelmon marginalis Richardson, 1842, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ns 9(55): 28. Type locality: Port Essington, Northern Territory.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Margined Coralfish, Chelmon marginalis Richardson 1842


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

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

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396,

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266,

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

Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as Chelmo tricinctus)

Coleman, N. 1974. Australian Marine Fishes in Colour. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reid 108 pp.

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

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. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chelmon marginalis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 03 January 2014.

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.

Richardson, J. 1842. Contributions to the ichthyology of Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History ns 9(55): 15-31. See ref at BHL

Richardson, J. 1846. Descriptions of six fish. Pp. 484-497, Pls. 1-4. in Stokes, J.L. vol. 1, Appendix. Discoveries in Australia with an account of the coasts and rivers explored and surveyed during the voyage of H. M. S. Beagle, in the years 1837-38-39-40-41-41-42-43. By command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admirality. Also a narrative ... islands in the Arafura Sea. London. T. and W. Boone, London. xii + 521 pp., Pls.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Smith, W.L., Webb, J.F. & Blum, S.D. 2003. The evolution of the laterophysic connection with a revised phylogeny and taxonomy of butterflyfishes (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae). Cladistics 19: 287-306.

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

Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 (as Chelmon rostratus marginalis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365007

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-30 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map