Ocellate Butterflyfish, Parachaetodon ocellatus (Cuvier 1831)

Other Names: Eye-spot Butterflyfish, False Batfish, Kite Butterflyfish, Ocellate Coralfish, Sixspine Butterflyfish, Six-spined Butterfly-fish, Six-spined Coralfish

An Ocellate Butterflyfish, Parachaetodon ocellatus, at Main Beach, Southport, Queensland, June 2018. Source: Kelly-Anne Masterman / iNaturalist.org. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A whitish butterflyfish with a tall triangular dorsal fin, five brownish to yellowish bands along the body, including one through the eye and an indistinct bar through the rear of the dorsal and anal fins and tail base, a 'false eyespot' on the tail base, and an indistinct 'eye-spot' on the dorsal fin.
Video of Ocellate Butterflyfish (Kite Butterflyfish) in Singapore.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Parachaetodon ocellatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/429

Ocellate Butterflyfish, Parachaetodon ocellatus (Cuvier 1831)

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos islands (juveniles further south to at least Perth), Western Australia, around the tropical north to Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the East Indo-west Pacific from India and Sri Lanka eastwards to the Solomon Islands and Fiji, north to the Ryukyu Islands, southern Japan, and south to Australia.
Inhabits coastal and inner reefs, usually in pairs or small groups on open sandy and silty areas, occasionally among seagrass. Juveniles are sometimes seen amongst seagrass in bays or lagoons.


Dorsal fin VI-VII, 28-30; Anal fin III, 18-20; Pectoral fin 14-16; Lateral-line pores 34-44; Lateral scale rows 39-46.
Body deep, highly compressed, snout slightly protruding. Lateral line ending near posterior end of dorsal fin. Dorsal fin triangular in shape, fin spines increasing in length posteriorly; anterior dorsal-fin rays elongated; caudal fin truncate.


Feeds on small benthic invertebrates and possibly sponges.


Taken as incidental bycatch in commercial trawls. Although Ocellate Butterflyfish occasionally enter the aquarium trade, they are difficult to maintain in captivity. 


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Least Concern


Some authors consider that the valid name of the Ocellate Butterflyfish, or what is referred to as Parachaetodon ocellatus in Australia, is Chaetodon oligacanthus Bleeker 1850 (previously considered to be a junior synonym of Parachaetodon ocellatus). Parachaetodon is considered to be a subgenus of Chaetodon (Smith et al. 2003; Littlewood et al. 2004), potentially making the name Chaetodon ocellatus invalid, as it is preoccupied by Chaetodon ocellatus Bloch 1787.


The specific name oligacanthus is from the Latin oligos (= few) and acanthus (= spine, thorn), in reference to the fewer dorsal-fin spines of this species compared with other species of the genus known at that time.

Species Citation

Platax ocellatus Cuvier, in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1831, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons Vol. 7: 229. Type locality unknown.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Ocellate Butterflyfish, Parachaetodon ocellatus (Cuvier 1831)


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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. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9940375

Black, R., Robertson, A.I., Peterson, C.H. & Peterson, N.M. 1990. Fishes and benthos of near-shore seagrass and sandflat habitats at Monkey Mia Shark Bay, Western Australia, pp. 245-261 In Berry, P.F., Bradshaw, S.D. & Wilson, B.R. (eds). Research in Shark Bay: Report of the France-Australe Biocentenary Expedition Committee. Perth: Western Australia Museum.

Bleeker, P. 1850. Bijdrage tot de kennis der Chaetodontoïden van den Soenda-Molukschen Archipel. Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen 23(9): 1-31 (described as Chaetodon oligacanthus)

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

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1831. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 7 531 pp. pls 170-208. (described as Platax ocellatusSee ref at BHL

De Vis, C.W. 1884. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(3): 453-462 (described as Chaetodon townleyi, type locality Moreton Bay, Qld) See ref at BHL

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. 

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. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2), 709-762. 

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. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 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. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 304-622. 

Kuiter, R.H. 2002. Butterflyfishes, Bannerfishes and their Relatives. Chorleywood, U.K. : TMC Publishing 208 pp.Kuiter R.W. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 3. Melbourne : Zoonetics pp. 623–893. 

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. 

Littlewood, D.T.J., McDonald, S.M., Gill, A.C., Cribb, T.H. 2004. Molecular phylogenetics of Chaetodon and the Chaetodontidae (Teleostei : Perciformes) with reference to morphology. Zootaxa 779(1): 1-20. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.779.1.1

McCulloch, A.R. 1929. A check-list of the fishes recorded from Australia. Part II. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 5: 145–329 (as Parachaetodon townleyi)

Moore, G.I., Morrison, S.M. & Johnson, J.W. 2020. The distribution of shallow marine fishes of the Kimberley, Western Australia, based on a long-term dataset and multiple methods. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 85: 105-115 http://dx.doi.org/10.18195/ issn.0313-122x.85.2020.105-115 (as Parachaetodon oligacanthus)

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. 

Ramm, D.C., Pender, P.J., Willing, R.S. & Buckworth, R.C. 1990. Large-scale spatial patterns of abundance within the assemblage of fish caught by prawn trawlers in Northern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41(1): 79-95. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9900079

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 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. 

Rocha, L.A., Allen, G. & Myers, R. 2010. Parachaetodon ocellatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165661A6083782. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T165661A6083782.en. Downloaded on 22 March 2019.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365003

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-95 m

Habitat:Reef associated, sand/silty areas

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map