Chelmon rostratus (Linnaeus)

Vertebrate - Fish

Butterfly fish; Paru-parong Isda (Tagalog)
Least Concern (IUCN)

Butterflyfishes have small heads with prominent or prolonged snout (small terminal mouth with tiny bristle-like teeth). They are small with a very maneuverable body shape; short, deep, and laterally compressed which enables them to make extremely fast turns and quick stops. Their pectoral and pelvic fins are important in remaining stationary in mid-water and back up. They use their broad dorsal and anal fins for increased stability during fast turns. They are brightly marked with patterns of bands of lines and ocelli in colors of black, white, yellow, orange and red. Male butterflyfishes are more colorful than the female.

Butterflyfishes mostly thrive in coral and in rocky reefs and are also found in tropical and a few in subtropical waters of East Coast of Africa to China, the Philippines, East Indies and Australia. They are usually found swimming around coral formations alone, in pairs or in small to large groups. They poke in crevices and ledges in search of small invertebrate prey. They can dart in and out of the coral formation with great ease and facility, leaving the less agile predators behind. Their diet consists of minute crustaceans, worms and other small organisms and probably some algae. They breed in shallow seas and produce pelagic eggs.

Butterflyfishes are usually attracted to light. Using a dip net, these fishes are easily captured by projecting surface light in the open sea during moonless nights. Valued as ornamental fish for aquarium purposes, they are also considered as important pollution or siltation indicator. Their presence in a particular marine habitat denotes a healthy reef.

This page was last modified Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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