15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Raccoon Butterflyfish For Kids

Raccoon butterflyfish facts about the fish species found along shallow reef flats.

There are many species of marine animals that are rarely known to the masses. One such very beautiful fish native to the Indian and the Pacific Ocean waters is a raccoon butterflyfish. The name gives us some idea about the appearance of this fish. These marine fishes are species of the ray finned family of fishes and measure around 8 in (20.3 cm) in length. Butterflyfishes have an oval body outline and also have yellow and black banding patterns on their body and white bands on their face just like a raccoon animal. A raccoon butterflyfish is scientifically known as Chaetodon lunula and feeds on a varied diet consisting of algae, shrimp,  polyps, other aquatic invertebrates, and a variety of crustaceans.  This species of fish belongs to the genus Chaetodon, the genus of tropical fishes also more commonly known as the genus of the butterflyfishes.

Here are some interesting facts about the butterflyfishes native to the Red Sea. Afterwards, do check our other articles on swai fish and fluke fish as well.

raccoon butterflyfish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Nudibranchs, small invertebrates, algae, coral polyps

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

200 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.09-0.14 lb (40.8-63.5 g)

How long are they?

8 in (20.3 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

White with black vertical stripes and yellow highlights on their fins

Skin Type

Slimy skin with small scales

What are their main threats?

Overfishing and predators

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Marine shallow waters between coral reefs and lagoons


Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean





Scientific Name

Chaetodon lunula





Raccoon Butterflyfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a raccoon butterflyfish?

Raccoon butterflyfish whose scientific name Chaetodon lunula is a fish with an oval body shape and varied yellow and black banding pattern on its the body and white bands on its face  just like a raccoon dog. Raccoon butterfly fish is a ray finned marine animal that feeds on worms, nudibranchs, algae, shrimp and coral polyps.

What class of animal does a raccoon butterflyfish belong to?

This fish belongs to class of actinopterygii fishes of phylum chordata of kingdom animalia. It further belongs to the family Chaetodontidae, the family of tropical marine fishes including banner fishes and coral fishes and holds approximately 129 species and 12 genera.

How many raccoon butterflyfish are there in the world?

There are around 114 species of reef butterflyfishes known to the world. Raccoon butterfly fish (Chaetodon lunula) is observed to be breeding in good numbers but the proper population count of the of this peaceful reef fish species population is not really known.

Where does a raccoon butterflyfish live?

Raccoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) is a docile, marine dwelling fish species and is found in large numbers in coral reef regions along the Indian and the Pacific Ocean and more specifically near southern Japan and East Africa.

What is a raccoon butterflyfish's habitat?

At a depth of 98.4 ft (30 m) in the Indian and Pacific ocean, a raccoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) is found in seaweed reefs dwelling between the soft corals and shallow reefs in lagoon waters. These habitats are quite abundant in regions falling near East Africa and Southern Japan. These soft bodies reef fish spend most of their time pecking these coral reefs and rock formations with their long snouts in search of marine worms and small sized vertebrates.

Who do raccoon butterflyfish live with?

The majority of raccoon butterflyfishes live in small groups, namely small schools, where they search for partners and suitable food for feeding. But many raccoon butterflyfishes prefer living in solitary until they find a mate.

How long does a raccoon butterflyfish live?

A raccoon butterflyfish like any other lives for around five to ten years in the wild. While the observations made in captivity suggest these soft bodies fishes with a peaceful temperament may live a little longer in the proper environment and absence of possible predators.

How do they reproduce?

A butterflyfish shows a very active breeding behavior namely broadcast spawning. They show monogamous behavior and do breed in groups. After courtship displays the male and female mate. The fertilization is external where male and female fishes lay their gametes outside in the creeks. Around two spawns are created of 200 eggs on average after a gestation period of 30 hours. Not all eggs are fertilized and the fertilization rate is in the region of one to two percent.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN red list, a raccoon butterflyfish is considered as the Least Concerned species. But a threat is imposed on their existence, because of increasing human activity and in their habitat and increasing water pollution.

Raccoon Butterflyfish Fun Facts

What does raccoon butterflyfish look like?

Raccoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) is a medium sized chordate and measures around 8 in (20.3 cm) in length. They have an oval body outline with yellow and black banding patterns and white bands on their face just like a raccoon dog or a butterfly. This acts as a mask and helps them in camouflaging between the corals. Their flanks have oblique reddish stripes and their mouth is elongated like a snout and the dorsal fin is continuous which is a characteristic feature of Chaetodon. Simply they are colorful and prefer alkaline water of around eight to survive in.

Raccoon butterflyfish is a peaceful fish with a masked appearance.

How cute are they?

These fishes are really cute with a crescent shaped mask on the head. The banding patterns, oblique yellow stripes behind the head, and different colors on their body make them even more beautiful in appearance. All these are the reasons why they are chosen as pets for aquariums.

How do they communicate?

Evolution has led to the development of certain sensory organs and mechanisms which is successfully used by these fishes for communicating. A male fish uses mechanical stimuli to evoke females for mating during courtship.  These fish are highly social and display complex social behavior. Chaetodon genus shows swim bladder horns and astrophysics connection which is a morphological feature and is said to be a unique adaptation of vertebrates that aid them in processing acoustic stimulation.

How big is a raccoon butterflyfish?

A raccoon butterflyfish is a medium sized marine animal. With their streamlined oval body, and elongated mouth that appears like a snout an average adult raccoon butterflyfish may measure around 8 in (20.3 cm) in length.

How fast can a raccoon butterflyfish move?

Proper estimation of its speed is not known but it is observed that they are active swimmers and move around with good speed.

How much does a raccoon butterflyfish weigh?

A raccoon butterflyfish is a medium sized fish with an average adult measuring around 0.09-0.14 lb (40.8-63.5 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female species do not really have separate names but they are distinguished by certain physical and biological features. A male is usually bigger in size than a female fish and the dorsal fin size may vary in both sexes. They are known as males and females respectively.

What would you call a baby raccoon butterflyfish?

A young raccoon butterflyfish is called a fry. After a few days of hatching a fry goes to become independent and start feeding on their own.

What do they eat?

A raccoon butterflyfish like feeding on an omnivorous diet. This varied diet consist of a variety of food such as small invertebrates, worms, coral polyps, algae, zooplanktons, sea anemones, shrimp and tiny motile crustaceans.

Are they poisonous?

It is not at all poisonous. In fact, this small to medium sized marine dweller is actually a very docile and peaceful fish and does not cause any harm to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

These non aggressive beings do make good pets. It is a popular practice to keep aquariums with butterflyfish in them. But the condition is that the setup with proper tank and similar environment that they live in the wild is required to hold them in captivity. Also, their diet can be a burden, besides they also do not show any spawning in captivity.

Did you know...

A raccoon butterflyfish is a good predator of Aiptasia and sea anemone. Depending upon the size of the massive aquarium a raccoon butterflyfish is capable of eliminating these nuisance pets in just a span of two and six weeks.

In captivity, they are prone to health problems marine itch which is an infection caused by the ciliate cryptocaryon irritants.  

This fish's Latin name means crescent, referring to the bold markings at head and tail.

Can we eat raccoon butterflyfish?

A raccoon butterflyfish’s flesh is non toxic but it is not a popular practice to eat them. They are often traded to be held captive in aquariums for show.

Are raccoon butterflyfish reef safe?

A reef safe is an artificial environment of coral reefs created specifically with shallow reef flats. Although a raccoon butterflyfish is not really an aggressive animal it may not be suitable to keep them in a reef safe tank. A large aquarium with 125 gal (473 L) capacity is required to hold them. Also, they are not suitable to be kept in a reef tank and corals since they will end up eating all the invertebrates.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these skate fish facts and codfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable raccoon butterflyfish coloring pages.



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