Chaetodon ocellatus

Chaetodon ocellatus is one of 88 members of the genus Chaetodon, which together with 11 additional genera make up the butterflyfishes family (Chaetodontidae) in which a total of 129 species are currently described. This species is found in the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, from the coasts of New England, the entire Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and as far as Brazil. It is a species with a preference for coral reefs.

The body of Chaetodon ocellatus is oval, laterally compressed and with a short but pointed snout. In the most terminal part of the snout we find a small mouth inside which has bands of small teeth. As for the size they can reach, the maximum total length of this species is 15 cm. The dorsal fin consists of a spiny part with 12-13 spines whose membranes are indented, followed by 18 to 20 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 16-17 soft rays. The soft ray portions of both the dorsal and anal fins form an angle towards the end that makes these portions appear to be continuations of the caudal fin. The pectoral fin has 14-15 soft rays.

As for the coloration of Chaetodon ocellatus, the body is white, with the dorsal, anal, caudal and pelvic fins of yellow color that adopts a more intense color in their respective posterior parts. It has a stripe that starts at the beginning of the dorsal fin, and making a 'C' shape that goes through the center of the eye to the base of the operculum. Its specific name ocellatus refers to a dark spot on the back of the dorsal fin, next to its base. Likewise, the males have a second black spot, this one more intense but smaller in size in the part of the dorsal fin where the angle towards the caudal peduncle is created.

The diet of Chaetodon ocellatus consists predominantly of benthic invertebrates that it captures while patrolling the bottom of coral reefs. We will usually observe this species in pairs.


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