Vagabond butterflyfish

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Not to be confused with the Indian vagabond butterflyfish (C. decussatus).

Vagabond butterflyfish
Chaetodon vagabundus.jpg
Scientific classification
Chaetodon (but see text)
C. vagabundus
Binomial name
Chaetodon vagabundus
Linnaeus, 1758

The vagabond butterflyfish (Chaetodon vagabundus) is a species of butterflyfish (family Chaetodontidae). It is found in the Indo-Pacific region from the Red Sea and off East Africa as far east as the Tuamotu Islands, north to southern Japan and south to the Austral Islands.[2]

It belongs to the large subgenus Rabdophorus which might warrant recognition as a distinct genus. In this group, it almost certainly is a rather close relative of the threadfin butterflyfish (C. auriga) and the Indian vagabond butterflyfish (C. decussatus). The latter might be closer to the threadfin butterflyfish; as C. vagabundus has yielded abnormal mtDNA 12S rRNA sequence data this is hard to say however. The C. auriga species group shares the characteristic pattern of two areas of ascending and descending oblique lines; species differ conspicuously in hindpart coloration.[3][4]

Chaetodon vagabundus are found in reef flats, lagoons and seaward reefs, and sometimes in turbid waters subject to freshwater runoff. They are omnivorous, known to feed on algae, coral polyps, crustaceans and worms. These oviparous, monogamous fish form stable pairs with both pair members jointly defending a feeding territory against other pairs. However they often accompany other species without being aggressive. By the standards of their genus, they are easily maintained in tanks.[2]


  1. ^ Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon vagabundus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 10 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b FishBase (2008): Chaetodon vagabundus. Version of 2008-JUL-24. Retrieved 2008-SEP-01.
  3. ^ Fessler, Jennifer L. & Westneat, Mark W. (2007): Molecular phylogenetics of the butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae): Taxonomy and biogeography of a global coral reef fish family. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 45(1): 50–68. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.05.018 (HTML abstract)
  4. ^ Hsu, Kui-Ching; Chen, Jeng-Ping & Shao, Kwang-Tsao (2007): Molecular phylogeny of Chaetodon (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae) in the Indo-West Pacific: evolution in geminate species pairs and species groups. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 14: 77-86. PDF fulltext