Chaetodon vagabundus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Chaetodon vagabundus Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Butterfly fish, Criss-cross Butterflyfish, Crisscross Butterflyfish, Vagabond Butterflyfish, Vagabond Butterflyfish, Vagabond Coralfish, Vagabond's Butterflyfish
French Chétodon à vagabond, Poisson papillon vagabond
Chaetodon mesogallicus Cuvier, 1829
Chaetodon nesogallicus Cuvier, 1829
Chaetodon pictus Forsskål, 1775
Chaetodon setifer hawaiiensis Borodin, 1930
Chaetodon vagabundus pictus Forsskål, 1775
Tetragonoptrus nesogallicus (Cuvier, 1829)
Tetragonoptrus vagabundus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Taxonomic Notes: Closely related to Chaetodon decussatus and pictus (latter formerly regarded as a synonym).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-09
Assessor(s): Myers, R. & Pratchett, M.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Polidoro, B., Livingstone, S. & Carpenter, K.E.
There have been declines in the abundance of Chaetodon vagabundus in some areas and research is required to understand apparent reliance on live corals. Given that this species is very widespread and typically abundant, it is unlikely that localized declines have substantially affected the global population. It is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is very widespread from Socotra south to Natal, South Africa across the Indo-Pacific to the Line and Gambier Islands in Polynesia, north to southern Japan and south to central New South Wales, Lord Howe and Rapa Iti (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). Its geographic range is estimated to be ~76 million km2, from values estimated by Jones et al. (2002) based on projections of distribution maps from Allen et al. (1998). It is found at depth of 1-30m.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Fiji; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati (Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is very abundant (e.g.,  mean of 1.3 individuals per 200 m2 in the northern Great Barrier Reef; Pratchett and Berumen 2008) throughout much of its geographical range. There have been slight declines in abundance recorded in Moorea, French Polynesia, between 1979 and 2003 (Berumen and Pratchett 2006), but it is otherwise stable (Pratchett et al. 2006).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in most coral reef habitats, from inner coastal reef flats to outer seaward slopes. Occurs singly, in pairs, or in small groups. The diet consists of anemones, coral polyps, polychaete worms and algae. The species tolerates a wide range of ecological conditions including influx of freshwater near stream mouths and turbid water (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006).

This species rarely consumes coral on the Great Barrier Reef (Pratchett 2005), but does so frequently in the Seychelles (Graham et al. 2006). It has declined at Moorea between 1979 and 2003 (Berumen and Pratchett 2006), though the explanation for this is unknown, given that it is not thought to be reliant on live coral.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is frequently exported through the aquarium trade (Pyle 2001).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): While this species has exhibited long-term declines in Moorea, there is apparent no reason why this species should depend on live coral. There do not appear to be any other major threats to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There appear to be no species-specific conservation measures in place. This species is present within marine protected areas. Research is required to confirm or understand the apparent reliance on live corals for this species.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.1. Outer Reef Channel
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.2. Back Slope
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.3. Foreslope (Outer Reef Slope)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.4. Lagoon
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Berumen, M.L. and Pratchett, M.S. 2006. Recovery without resilience: persistent distrubance and long-term shifts in the structure of fiosh and coral communities at Tiahura Reef, Moorea. Coral Reefs 25: 647-653.

Graham, N.A.J., Wilson, S.K., Jennings, S., Polunin, N.V.C., Bijoux, J.P. and Robinson, J. 2006. Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103(22): 8425-8429.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2010).

Jones, G.P., Caley, M.J. and Munday, P.L. 2002. Rarity in coral reef fish communities. In: P.F. Sale (ed.), Coral reef fishes; Dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem, pp. 81-101. Academic Press.

Pratchett, M.S. 2005. Dietary overlap among coral-feeding butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology 148: 373-382.

Pratchett, M.S. and Berumen, M.L. 2008. Interspecific variation in ditributions and diets of coral reef butterflyfishes (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae). Journal of Fish Biology 73: 1730-1747.

Pratchett, M.S., Wilson, S.K. and Baird, A.H. 2006. Declines in the abundance of Chaetodon butterflyfishes following extensive coral depletion. Journal of Fish Biology 69: 1269-1280.

Pyle, R. 2001. Chaetodontidae. Butterflyfishes. In: K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds), FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae), pp. 3224-3265. FAO, Rome.

Randall, J.E., Williams, J.T., Smith, D.G., Kulbicki, M., Tham, G.M., Labrosse, P., Kronen, M., Clua, E. and Mann, B.S. 2003. Checklist of the shore and epipelagic fishes of Tonga. Atoll Research Bulletin 502: 1-37.

Citation: Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon vagabundus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165630A6073181. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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