Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Bleeker 1857)

A Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis, on Holmes Reef in the Coral Sea, November 2016. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A striking butterflyfish with a large white pyramid-shaped marking on the sides, white caudal, pectoral and pelvic fins, a brown head and the rest of the body bright yellow.

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

Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Bleeker 1857)

More Info


Found in Australia from Rowley Shoals, WA, Darwin, NT, Boot Reef and Frederick Reef, Coral Sea, and Lizard Island, QLD to Ballina, NSW. Elsewhere, widespread in the East-Indo-west-central Pacific, including Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas islands.

Inhabits steep current-swept outer reef slopes, especially near drop-offs. Forms large feeding aggregations high in the water column.


Forms large shoals of up to several hundred individuals feeding on zooplankton high in the water column. 

Species Citation

Chaetodon polylepis Bleeker, 1857, Acta Societatis Scientiarum Indo-Neerlandicae 2: 54. Type locality: Ambon (as Amboina), Indonesia.


Dianne J. Bray

Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Bleeker 1857)


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., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Burgess, W.E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the world. A monograph of the Family Chaetodontidae. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

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)

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.

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Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Butterflyfishes, Bannerfishes and their Relatives. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.

Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Hemitaurichthys polylepis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 18 August 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.

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:37365074

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:3-60 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish (difficult)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map