Yellow teardrop butterflyfish Chaetodon interruptus

  • Fringing Reef
  • Lagoon coral patches
  • Fauna
  • Fish
  • Butterflyfish
  • Yellow teardrop Butterflyfish


Chaetodon interruptus, belonging to the order of Perciformes and family of Chaetodontidae is commonly known as the Yellow teardrop butterflyfish. It has a concave dorsal head profile. Its body is of a bright yellow colour with a black teardrop shaped spot found on the middle dorsal side. Juveniles possess a white rim around the black teardrop mark, which is usually rounder in shape than for the adults. A black streak passes across the eye. A thin black patch with a white tinge is present at the rear of the dorsal and anal fins. Pale chevron shaped lines run across the body. It has a total of 12 to 13 dorsal spines, 21 to 23 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 18 to 20 anal soft rays[1]. It can reach a maximum length of 20cm.


[1] ‘Chaetodon Interruptus Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indian Ocean, from East Africa to South Africa, East to Northern Sumatra and Western Thailand, including  all the islands in between and Southern India. Its recorded depth range is between 2 to 45m and its habitat ranges from coral reef flats to deep slopes. The diet of the Yellow teardrop butterflyfish consists of soft corals, hard corals, sponges, algae and polychaetes. Adults usually form pairs during breeding[1]. When the female swells with eggs, spawning occurs in the water column and males fertilise the eggs. Spawning is believed to take place with respect to lunar cycles but more research is required. A bony plate forms over the head area of the larvae when they hatch. The larvae are called tholichthys.


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red List, this species is categorized as being of ‘Least Concern’ as it is common and widespread with no major threats. No declines in populations have been documented but this species does feed on live coral and with the event of coral bleaching due to climate change, this species might be at risk. It is caught in artisanal fisheries and seldom collected for aquarium trade. No conservation measures are in place for this species but it is present in many MPAs within its range[2].


[1] ‘Yellow Teardrop Butterflyfish - Chaetodon Interruptus - Details’.

[2] Myers and Pratchett, ‘The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’.

Did you know?

This species is monogamous and will keep the same mate unless the mate dies[1].


[1] Sutton, ‘Yellow Teardrop Butterflyfish - Facts and Photographs’.