Melon butterflyfish Chaetodon trifasciatus

  • Fringing Reef
  • Butterflyfish
  • Melon Butterflyfish
  • Fauna


The Chaetodon trifasciatus, belongs to the order of Perciformes and family of Chaetodontidae. It is also known as the Lineated butterflyfish, Melon butterflyfish, Pinstriped butterflyfish, Purple butterflyfish, Rainbow butterflyfish, Three-banded butterfly, and Three-banded coralfish amongst others. This butterflyfish is of a pale orange colour with a blue rear section with diagonal purplish stripes on the sides. There is an oblique black streak, lined with yellow that cross the eye, this marking is also found along the dorsal and anal fin bases. The anal fin is a reddish orange colour and the caudal peduncle is a yellowish orange colour[1].  The tip of the caudal fin is transparent. It has a total of 13 to 14 dorsal spines, 20 to 22 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 18 to 21 anal soft rays[2].


[1] ‘Chaetodon Trifascialis’.

[2] ‘Chaetodon Trifasciatus Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indian Ocean, from coastal East Africa, to Indonesia and Christmas Islands. The recorded depth range of Chaetodon trifasciatus is between 2 to 20 m. This butterfly fish inhabits coral rich, protected areas in lagoons and seaward reefs. Pairs swim around together and ignore other individuals of the same species. Its diet consists of a wide range of corals.


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red list, this species is categorized as being of ‘Least Concern’. However, population declines in the Seychelles have been reported but the impact on global abundance of this species is unknown. Coral cover loss is also a threat to the survival of this species. It is collected for the aquarium trade, but usually starves as this species only feeds on corals. The population trend is unknown. No conservation measures are in place for this species, but it is present in many MPAs [1].


[1] Pyle et al., ‘Chaetodon Trifasciatus’.

Did you know?

This species is  solely corallivore.