Madagascar Butterflyfish, Chaetodon madagaskariensis Ahl 1923

Other Names: Indian Ocean Chevron Butterflyfish, Pearlscale Butterflyfish, Pearly Butterflyfish, Pearscale Butterflyfish, Seychelles Butterflyfish

A Madagascar Butterflyfish, Chaetodon madagaskariensis, from Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Source: Sally Polack / FishWise Professional. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A whitish to pale grey butterflyfish with dark grey chevron markings on the sides, a broad orange to reddish-orange band across the rear of the body, a black bar through the eye, and a pale-edged black spot on the forehead.
Occurs at the Australian territories of Christmas Island & Cocos-(Keeling) Islands.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Audrey S. Thompson, Chaetodon madagaskariensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Madagascar Butterflyfish, Chaetodon madagaskariensis Ahl 1923

More Info


Elsewhere, the Madagascar Butterflyfish is widespread in the Indian Ocean from the East Africa and Madagascar, to Sri Lanka, Cocos-Keeling Islands, Christmas Island, and western Sumatra.
Inhabits lagoons and outer reef slopes, often near drop-offs and on steep slopes.


Dorsal fin XII-XIII, 18-20; Anal fin III, 15-17; Pectoral fin 14-15; Lateral-line scales 34-41.


Feeds on benthic invertebrates and algae.

Similar Species

The similar Merten's Butterflyfish, Chaetodon mertensii, which has a dark greyish smudge on the forehead instead of a large dark pale-edged spot.

Species Citation

Chaetodon chrysurus madagaskariensis Ahl, 1923, Archiv für Naturgesch. A 89(5): 163. Type locality: Madagascar, southwestern Indian Ocean.


Dianne J. Bray & Audrey S. Thompson


Australian Faunal Directory

Madagascar Butterflyfish, Chaetodon madagaskariensis Ahl 1923


Ahl, E. 1923. Zur Kenntnis der Knochenfischfamilie Chaetodontidae, insbesondere der Unterfamilie Chaetodontinae. Archiv für Naturgeschichte A 89(5): 1-205 pls 1-3

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. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

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

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

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

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

Harmelin-Vivien, M.L., 1989. Implications of feeding specialization on the recruitment processes and community structure of butterflyfishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 25(1/3): 101-110.

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202.

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S .J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37365092

Danger:IUCN Least Concern


Fishing:Aquarium fish (uncommon)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:13 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map