Western Talma, Chelmonops curiosus Kuiter 1986

Other Names: Coral Fish, Southern Butterflyfish, Squareback Butterflyfish, Square-back Butterflyfish, Square-back Coralfish, Talma, Truncate Butterflyfish, Truncate Coralfish

A Western Talma, Chelmonops curiosus, at Rapid Bay, South Australia. Source: Graham Short. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A large silvery butterflyfish with a long pointed snout and high dorsal and anal fin. Body with five dark bars, posterior margins of dorsal- and anal-fins black, and pelvic fin black with a white spine and first ray. Juveniles have an ocellus on the upper rear of the dorsal fin.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Chelmonops curiosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2408

Western Talma, Chelmonops curiosus Kuiter 1986

More Info


Endemic to southern and western Australia from about Victor Harbor, South Australia, to Shark Bay, Western Australia. Inhabits coastal rocky reefs, especially near vertical rock faces. Adults are usually seen in pairs.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XI, 25-27; Anal fin III, 19-20; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 15-17 (usually 16); Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 48-53; Gill rakers (total) 12-14.

Body very deep (approx. 57% SL), short, strongly compressed; caudal peduncle shallow. Head small (approx. 39% SL); snout long and tapered; eyes of medium size (approx. 25% HL); mouth very small, at tip of tube like snout; jaws with bands of bristle like teeth; gill rakers small and flat, outermost rudimentary or undeveloped.
Scales ctenoid, firmly attached, covering body, most of vertical fins and pectoral fin bases, those on body much larger than those on fins; lateral line following contour of back.
A single elongate dorsal fin with little separation between spines and segmented rays; first spine small, subsequent spines progressively longer; soft portion rounded in juveniles, high and acutely pointed in adults, triangular when raised; posterior margin almost vertical; anal fin much smaller than dorsal fin, but similar and opposite posterior portion; caudal fin truncate, uppermost rays longest. Pectoral fins with upper rays longest. Pelvic fins thoracic, large, with first ray extended.


Silvery with five black vertical bands on each side; first band through eye; following three bands progressively broader and on body; last band encircling caudal peduncle; each pale interspace of about same width as the preceding band. Scales along margins of bands uniformly silver, forming a pale margin to bands; remaining scales in interspaces with dark centres. Posterior margins of dorsal and anal fins black; pelvic fins black with white spine and first ray. Juveniles with distinct white edged ocelli on soft portion of dorsal fin.


Omnivore - feeds on small worms, crustaceans, and algae.

Similar Species

The closely related Chelmonops truncatus, from Queensland and New South Wales, has a deeper body (55–60% SL) and less angular soft dorsal-fin and anal-fin lobes.

Species Citation

Chelmonops curiosus Kuiter, 1986, Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 13(3): 74. Type locality: near Perth, WA. 


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon

Western Talma, Chelmonops curiosus Kuiter 1986


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. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Chaetodontidae. pp. 608-609 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 544 pp. [Revised]

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.
Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1986. A new species of butterflyfish, Chelmonops curiosus, from Australia's south coast. Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 13(3): 73-78.

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Chaetodontidae. pp. 625-627, figs 550-551 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

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.

Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010.Chelmonops curiosus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 29 September 2013.

Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 2(1): 1-208 293 figs pl. 1

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365066

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-60 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:26 cm TL


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