Butterfly Fish of Koh Tao


Learn about Butterfly Fish on Koh Tao

Butterfly fish are one of the most common fish species you can see whilst scuba diving and snorkeling around Koh Tao.

Found at shallow and deep dive sites you can see the Eight Band Butterflyfish, Copper-Band Butterfly fish, Lined Butterfly fish, Weibels Butterfly fish and the Longfin Banner Fish.

Butterfly Fish of Koh Tao
Butterfly Fish of Koh Tao

Where to find Butterfly fish on Koh Tao

You can see various species of Butterfly fish at almost every single scuba diving or snorkeling location you visit.

Shallower dive sites like Twins Peaks, Mango Bay, Japanese Gardens and White Rock have marine life in abundance and they are very easy to find.

How to identify Butterfly Fish

Nearly all Butterfly fish share a common body shape and have a compressed round body with a protruding snout like mouth, however, their colourations differ a lot.

Tropical Eight banded Butterflyfish Fish on Coral Reef
Tropical Eight banded Butterflyfish Fish on Coral Reef

Eight Band Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

The Eight Band Butterflyfish is a lot smaller than many other species of Butterflyfish.

They can grow up to just twelve centimetres (12cm) and have a pale-yellow body colour. As the name suggests, they have eight (8) black bands vertically down their body with the first one usually passing through their eyes.

Lined Butterfly Fish Koh Tao
Lined Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

Lined Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

The Lined Butterflyfish is one of the largest of its family and can reach lengths of up to thirty centimetres (30cm).

Their main body is a silvery white colour with thin back lines hanging vertically from the top of their body.

Their faces have a thick black band across them and their fins at the rear of their body are yellow with another black band.

These specific butterfly fish are carnivorous and will prey on smaller fish, shrimp and other invertebrates.

Weibels Butterfly Fish Koh Tao
Weibels Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

Weibels Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

The Weibels Butterflyfish is one of the most common Butterflyfish around Koh Tao.

Growing up to sixteen centimetres (16cm) in length, they are one of the most social Butterflyfish and can be seen together in huge schools.

They have bright yellow bodies with both their face and caudal fins owning a black and white stripe down them.

Copperband Butterflyfish Koh Tao
Copperband Butterflyfish Koh Tao

Copperband Butterfly Fish Koh Tao

The Copperband Butterflyfish are one of the harder butterflyfish to find in this family.

More often seen at shallower dive sites like Junkyard Reef, which provide a perfect nursery for them at a young age.

Their bodies are white with amber coloured vertical bands and they have a black circular spot above their caudal fin with a much longer thin snout, which helps them feed on sponges and pluck algae between corals.

Long Fin Bannerfish Koh Tao

The Long Fin Bannerfish is commonly mistaken for the Moorish idol as they resemble one another.

Although the Long Fin Bannerfish does not have a typical Butterflyfish body shape, they are in fact in the Butterflyfish family.

Their bodies are alternating thick black and white bands with a pale-yellow caudal fin and an impressive elongated dorsal fin which is solid white.

They can grow up to thirty centimetres (30cm) in length and are often found in shoals.

Longfin Bannerfish Koh Tao
Longfin Bannerfish Koh Tao

Butterflyfish Characteristics & Behaviour

Butterflyfish are believed to be highly social fish and can often be found in shoals around Koh Tao and they cleverly stay together by synchronising the rowing strokes of their pectoral fins.

Butterflyfish are an extremely loyal species of fish and once they have found a mating partner, they will stay with the same partner for breeding and stay together for life, eating and travelling the reefs together.

Interesting facts about Butterflyfish on Koh Tao

Butterflyfish are normally a slow-moving species of fish and can be very agile if they need to be and even have the ability to swim backwards.

Hybrid through mating in the wild is thought to be extremely rare between fish however, Butterflyfish are the most likely fish to breed between different species in their family.

Social Fish

Most Butterflyfish either have a black spot on their bodies to look like a fake eye or a black stripe across their face to conceal their actual eye, which is a defence mechanism to try and deter any nearby predators from taking a lunge.

If you see a large number of Butterflyfish whilst diving, it is an indication of an extremely healthy reef.

Their diet requires very large areas of healthy coral for food, so if they are in groups, it is a good indicator on the health status of the surrounding reef.