These fish got their name for an unusually bright and colorful coloration, which really reminds butterflies. Butterflyfish, although exotic inhabitants of reefs, but to some extent familiar to everyone, because they are favorite objects of shooting underwater naturalists. Butterflyfishes belong to the family of bristle-chicks of the Okuniforms, but the common perch form them with a very distant relationship. Systematically, to fish-butterflies, the angels are the closest.
Butterflyfish have a length of 15 to 30 cm. Their body is strongly flattened from the sides and seems high. The head is relatively large, the mouth is very small, in some species the lips can be elongated into an elongated tubule. This structure of the mouth allows you to extract food from hard-to-reach coral reef slots. The teeth of these fish are very small, their apexes are often split (hence the name of the family – bristle teeth).
Anal and dorsal fins wide, their bases covered with scales why it seems that the fins continue the body line, making it square, rectangular or triangular. Caudal fin short. Scales in these fish are small, yellow, orange, silver and black colors predominate in the color of the body.
It is characteristic that each species of butterfly fish combines several colors in its color, often there are bands or spots. Large single spots in the tail are common to many types of butterfly fish. These spots perform a masking function: they create the impression of a false eye and disorient the predator during the attack, and the bright color on the whole perfectly masks the fish among the variegated coral reef.
Inhabit butterfishes only in the saline waters of the equatorial and tropical belts. The largest number of species lives in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, the second most important area of species diversity is the Caribbean. Their favorite habitats are coral reefs or underwater rocks, occasionally they can be found among algae. Butterfly fish are sedentary, they occupy a very small portion of the reef and are not removed far from it. In connection with such territorial attachment, these fish have pronounced possessive instincts.