Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Chaetodon ephippium
Species Authority: Cuvier, 1831
Common Name(s):
English Blackblotch Butterflyfish, Saddle-back Butterflyfish, Saddleback Butterflyfish, Saddle Butterflyfish, Saddle Butterflyfish, Saddled Butterflyfish, Saddled Coralfish
Chaetodon garnoti Lesson, 1831
Chaetodon mulsanti Thiollière, 1857
Chaetodon principalis Cuvier, 1829

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.
This species is abundant and widespread. There are no major threats for this species. It is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is distributed from the Indo-Malayan region throughout the tropical insular Pacific Ocean (Pyle 2001). It has been recorded from Sri Lanka (most likely a vagrant) in the west as far east as the Hawaiian Islands (USA), Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia) and Tuamotu Islands (French Polynesia), and from southern Japan in the north south to New South Wales (Australia) and Rapa (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). It has been recorded at depths of 1-30 m. Range size ~10.3 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 (American Samoa); Australia; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Cook Islands; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati (Phoenix Is.); Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., US Line Is., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
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:It is generally common (mean of 0.46 individuals per 200 m2 in northern Great Barrier Reef; Pratchett and Berumen 2008). There have not been any recorded changes in abundance, even in coral reef habitats with extensive coral loss (Berumen and Pratchett 2006). The global population is most likely stable.


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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Populations inhabit a wide variety of coral reef habitats, being frequently found in areas of rich coral growth in lagoons and on outer reefs. It occurs as solitary animals, in pairs or in small groups. The diet includes coral polyps, algae, sponges, fish eggs and benthic invertebrates (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). This species lives exclusively within coral reef habitats, but has limited direct reliance on live corals (Pratchett 2005).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is frequently exported through the aquarium trade (Pyle 2001). Approximately 5,000 individuals traded between 1988-2002 (Global Marine Aquarium Database 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is collected for the aquarium trade however there is no data on how this affects the population. There appear to be no other major threats to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There appear to be no species specific conservation measures in place (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). In view of its wide range this species is likely to be present within many marine protected areas. Ongoing monitoring of catches by aquarium collectors is required.

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
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

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

Bibliography [top]

Allen, G.R., Steene, R. and Allen, M. 1998. A guide to angelfishes and butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research.

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.

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

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

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.

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 ephippium. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165681A6089748. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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