Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Oval Butterflyfish - kapuhili

Chaetodon lunulatus


So beautiful, they glow even when they sun is not shining on them. Apricot-yellow with grey-mauve horizontal lines on the body, black accents on tail and fins, grows to 5 1/2 inches.


Never on the exposed reef, only protected areas where it feeds on polyps of living coral. Defends a permanent feeding territory against other Oval Butterflyfish. The Hawaiian name means "person with many taboos". This is one of the few butterflyfish with a specific Hawaiian name.


Photo #1 shows the Tails up display that these fish use when they encounter another one of their own species. It could give them time to recognize the other individual as their mate or, if not, then a stranger and they will attack. In his excellent guide "Hawaiian Reef Fishes" Hoover discusses this behaviour studied by Shinji Yabuta in Okinawa. Really interesting. I was excited to find some info about this as I had observed it on the reef myself.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Spotted by

Hawaii, USA

Spotted on Mar 28, 2013
Submitted on Apr 12, 2013

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors

Join the Project Noah Team Join Project Noah Team