Chaetodon auriga 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Chaetodon auriga Forsskål, 1775
Common Name(s):
English Cross-stripe Butterfly, Diagonal Butterflyfish, Threadfin, Threadfin Butterfly, Threadfin Butterflyfish, Threadfin Butterflyfish, Threadfin Coralfish, Whip Butterflyfish
French Papillon jaune
Spanish Mariposa de aleta ribeteada
Anisochaetodon auriga (Forsskål, 1775)
Chaetodon auriga setifier (Bloch, 1795)
Chaetodon lunaris Gronow, 1854
Chaetodon satifer Bloch, 1795
Chaetodon sebanus Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon setifer Bloch, 1795
Linophora auriga (Forsskål, 1775)
Pomacantrus filamentosus Lacepède, 1802
Pomacentrus setifer (Bloch, 1795)
Sarothrodus auriga (Forsskål, 1775)
Tetragonoptrus auriga (Forsskål, 1775)
Tetragonoptrus setifer (Bloch, 1795)
Taxonomic Notes: The Red Sea population generally lacks the dark spot on the soft dorsal fin. This population has been described as the sub-species C. auriga setifer Ahl 1923. However most recent authors regard it a conspecific with C. auriga.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-08
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 C. auriga in some areas and research is required to understand apparent reliance on live corals. It is collected for the aquarium trade but the impacts are unknown. 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 distributed throughout the entire tropical Indo-Pacific region. It is found from the Red Sea and East Africa in the west to the Hawaiian Islands (USA), Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia) and Ducie Atoll (Pitcairn Islands, UK) in the east. It is found in the north from southern Japan and south  to south eastern and western Australia including Lord Howe Island (Australia) and Rapa (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). Vagrants are occasionally seen in the eastern Pacific at the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). It has been recorded at depths of one to 61 m.
Range size ~82.2 million km2, from values estimated by Jones et al. (2002) based on projection of distribution maps from Allen et al. (1998).
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; Bahrain; Bangladesh; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; Chile (Easter Is.); China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Djibouti; Ecuador (Galápagos); Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; Hong Kong; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kiribati (Phoenix Is.); Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Qatar; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United Arab Emirates; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., US Line Is., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – western central; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – northwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):61
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


This species is generally common (e.g., mean of 0.7 individuals per 20 0m2 in northern Great Barrier Reef; Pratchett and Berumen 2008). It has however, exhibited significant declines in abundance on the Great Barrier Reef (Pratchett 2001) and in French Polynesia (Berumen and Pratchett 2006) following extensive coral loss.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits a wide variety of coral reef habitat, and can be encountered in coastal, lagoonal, and outer reefs (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). It feeds mainly by tearing pieces from polychaetes, sea anemones, coral polyps, and algae (Myers 1991). It may be found singly, in pairs and in aggregations. This species only very rarely consumes coral on the Great Barrier Reef (Pratchett 2005), but consumes mainly live corals in the Indian Ocean (Graham et al. 2006). It declined significantly in Moorea between 1979 and 2003, following shifts in coral community structure (Berumen and Pratchett 2006).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Large volumes of this species (>25,000 individuals) are reported to have been exported for aquarium markets (GMAD 2009). It is a very common aquarium trade species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

While declines in abundance of C. auriga have been observed following localized coral loss, it is unknown why this species should have any reliance on live corals. It neither feeds or recruits on live coral (Pratchett et al. 2008). This species is collected for the aquarium trade however there is no data on how this affects the population. This species is harvested by artisanal fishers, accounting for 72% of the butterflyfishes caught (Mangi and Roberts 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for Chaetodon auriga. This species is present within marine protected areas. Ongoing monitoring of  catches by aquarium collectors is required. 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

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

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

Bibliography [top]

Adrim, M., Chen, I.-S., Chen, Z.-P., Lim, K.K.P., Tan, H.H., Yusof, Y. and Jaafar, Z. 2004. Marine fishes recorded from the Anambas and Natuna Islands, South China Sea. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Suppl. No. 11: 117-130.

Burgess, W.E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the world. A monograph of the Family Chaetodontidae. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.

Edgar, G.J., Banks, S., Fariña, J.M., Calvopiña, M. and Martínez, C. 2004. Regional biogeography of shallow reef fish and macro‐invertebrate communities in the Galapagos archipelago. Journal of Biogeography 31(7): 1107-1124.

Global Marine Aquarium Database. 2009. World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNEP.

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.

Mangi, S.C. and Roberts, C.M. 2006. Quantifying environmental impacts of artisanal fishing gear on Kenya’s coral reef ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 1646-1660.

Myers, R.F. 1989. Micronesian Reef Fishes: A practical Guide to the identification of the Coral Reef Fishes of the Tropical Central and Western Pacific. Coral Graphics, Barrigada, Guam.

Pratchett, M.S. 2001. Dynamics of outbreak populations of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci L.) and their effects on coral reef ecosystems. School of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University.

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., Marnane, M.J., Berumen, M.L., Eagle, J.E. and Pratchett, D.J. 2008. Habitat associations of juvenile versus adult butterflyfishes. Coral Reefs 27: 541-551.

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.

Steene, R.C. 1978. Butterfly and angelfishes of the world. A.H. and A.W. Reed Pty Ltd., Australia.

Citation: Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon auriga. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165631A6073721. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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