Chaetodon kleinii

Common Names: Blacklip butterflyfish, blue-face butterflyfish, bluehead butterflyfish, brown butterflyfish, corallicola butterflyfish, Klein's butterflyfish, Klein's coralfish, sunburst butterflyfish, white-spotted butterflyfish, yellow-spot butterflyfish, etc.

Type Locality: East Indies

Range: Indo-Pacific: Red Sea; East Africa south to South Africa, to Hawai‘i and Samoa; north to southern Japan; south to New South Wales, Australia, and New Caledonia. Eastern Pacific: GalÁpagos Islands

Taxonomic Troubles: This is the original description, but at various times this fish has been known as—aside from the misspelling C. kleini—C. corallicola, C. cingulatus, C. bellulus, C. flavescens, C. melammystax, C. melastomus, C. virescens, Tetragonoptrus kleini, and Anis

Size: 15 cm (6 inches) TL.

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine.

Difficulty: One of the recommended butterflies. An excellent choice for beginners.

Tank Setup: A large tank with plenty of swimming space and hiding spots. Live rock is the ideal decoration. Not reef-safe due to its corallivorous nature, but it loves to eat Aiptasia anemones. Usually peaceful, it can be harassed by aggressive tankmates. Generally a

Feeding: Omnivorous. Natural diet consists mainly of soft coral polyps, algae, and plankton. Will take most foods and should have a varied diet with several small meals throughout the day.

Breeding: Not successfully bred yet in captivity.

Fish Description

As with most species with an extensive natural range, there are regional variants. Basic coloration is brownish yellow with a black bar through the eye and black snout. One or two additional vertical bars can be white or beige.


The butterflyfishes contain some excellent choices for the marine aquarium, as well as some terrible choices. This is one of the best. Smaller than many other species, this butterfly is also hardy and adapts well to captivity. And although it will eat live coral, it is not an obligate corallivore and can be maintained on regular aquarium fare. If anything, its main drawback is its shyness. It is very important to provide hiding places and to make sure that tankmates are not aggressive.