Butterfly fish, with their amazing array of colors and patterns and protruding mouth parts, are most common fish on the reefs. Although extremely widespread, today they are at considerable risk of extinction following ongoing degradation of coral reefs around the world, because the coral itself is exceptionally vulnerable.
Most butterfly fish have intricate patterns with striking backgrounds of yellow, orange, or yellow. Many have dark bands across their fins/eyes and round, eye-like dots on their body to confuse predators as to which end to strike and in which direction they’re likely to escape.
Some butterfly fish species travel in small schools, whereas most species are solitary until they find a partner, with whom they spend their entire life. According to fishbase, there are 114 reported species of butterfly fish. They have thin, disk-shaped bodies that closely resemble their equally recognizable cousins, the angelfish. They spend their days tirelessly pecking at coral and rock formations with their long, thin snouts in search of coral polyps, worms, and other small invertebrates and are considered as a keystone species for a reef. Thus, healthy or abundant populations are indicative of health of the reef.