I’m slowly working through some recent images from the Red Sea and hopefully you’re enjoying seeing them. Here is a selection of butterflyfish.
The first on my list is the Masked or Blue cheek Butterfly. Chaetodon semilarvatus is perhaps the quintessential Red Sea Butterflyfish. It certainly is a stunner. It is quite large at 23 centimeters and usually seen in pairs. It is found in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and seems to be a little more common in the south of the Red Sea.
If you get to see one up close you can really appreciate the warm yellow coloration of the fish. I particularly like the lining and detail on the edges of its dorsal and anal fins.
Next up is C. paucifasciatus, the Crown Butterflyfish. I find these really hard to approach as they are so very shy and will disappear into the coral very readily.
This is a smaller fish, at 14cm and again is a Red Sea and Gulf of Aden species. A similar species, C. madagaskeriensis, replaces it in the Indian Ocean.
A much more common fish is the Red Sea Bannerfish (Heniochus intermedius). This fish has a similar range to its cousins above. You often see these fish in groups which makes a mockery of the name of their close relative the Schooling Bannerfish (H. diphreutes), which, as you guessed, is often found in groups. H. diphreutes has a smilar appearance but does not have the yellow anal fin of its relative, instead the anal is cut in two by a black and a silver stripe running across the flank.
C. auriga is a much more well-known species. There is a Red Sea specific subspecies but as yet I haven’t found one. It is reported to have a black spot on the dorsal fin.
My final fish is C. melanottus, the Blackbacked Butterfly fish. I had wondered about keeping this picture, as it is not that great, but decided to share it anyway. I was having camera trouble, but at least you can see the fish in its native habitat.