Blackwedged Butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula Bloch 1795

Other Names: Double-saddleback Butterflyfish, Falcula Butterflyfish, Indian Double-saddle Butterflyfish, Pigface Coralfish, Saddleback Butterflyfish, Saddled Butterflyfish, Sickle Butterflyfish

A Blackwedged Butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula, in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, eastern Indian Ocean, March 2015. Source: cocos_karen / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A white butterflyfish with the body broadly outlined in yellow, two black wedge-shaped saddles on the back, narrow vertical lines on the side, a black bar through the eye, and a black band around the caudal-fin base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Chaetodon falcula in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Blackwedged Butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula Bloch 1795

More Info


Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Indian Ocean from East Africa to Indonesia (Sumatra and West Java).
Pairs or small groups inhabit coral rich areas in lagoons and seaward reefs at depths to 15 m.


Dorsal fin XII-XIII, 23-25; Anal fin III, 20-21; Pectoral fin 14-16; Lateral-line scales 29-34.
Body depth 1-6-1.8 in SL; snout relatively long, length 1.9-2.3 in head.


The Blackwedged Butterflyfish is thought to be an obligate corallivore like its sister species, the Doublesaddle Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ulientensis (Allen & Myers 2010).

Similar Species

The similar Doublesaddle Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ulietensis, which occurs in the East-Indo-west-central Pacific, differs in having two broad diffuse dark grey to blackish bars on the upper side, and a black spot on the caudal-fin base. Both species are found at the Australian Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean.


The specific name is from the Latin falcula (= small sickle, scythe) presumably in reference to the pair of black wedge-shaped saddles on the back that are sickle-shaped in the original illustration.

Species Citation

Chaetodon falcula Bloch 1795, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische,vol. 9: 102, Pl. 425 (fig. 2), Type locality: Tranquebar [Tharangambadi], India.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Catalog of Fishes

Blackwedged Butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula Bloch 1795


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. & Myers, R. 2010. Chaetodon falcula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165607A6066720. Downloaded on 26 August 2020.

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

Bellwood, D.R., Klanten, S., Cowman, P.F., Pratchet, M.S., Konow, N. & van Herwerden, L. 2010. Evolutionary history of the butterflyfishes (f: Chaetodontidae) and the rise of coral feeding fishes. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 335–349 

Bloch, M.E. 1795. Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin. v. 9: i-ii + 1-192, Pls. 397-429. 

Blum, S.D. 1989. Biogeography of the Chaetodontidae, an analysis of allopatry among closely related species. Environmental Biology of Fishes 25(1): 9-31 

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

Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of the butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae): Taxonomy and biogeography of a global coral reef fish family. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 45(1): 50-68,

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

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 304-622.

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.

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:37365097

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-15 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:20 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map