butterfly fish, common name for certain members of the Chaetodontidae, a family of reef-dwelling tropical fishes with compressed bodies and small mouths and teeth. Butterfly fish are carnivorous, feeding on crabs, barnacles, and other invertebrates. The fast and aggressive common butterfly fish, 5 to 8 in. (12.5–20 cm) long, is marked by dark lines through the eyes and near the tail. The angelfishes were formerly classified with the butterfly fishes but are now treated as a separate family. The butterfly fishes are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Chaetodontidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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