Also known as the double sash butterflyfish, this is the only butterflyfish species to be found in both the Indian (warm) and the Atlantic (cold) oceans.

The South African butterflyfish is endemic to our coast. 

Solitary juveniles can be seen in estuaries and tidal pools while pairs of adults prefer rocky and coral reefs at depths from 1 to 120m.

These fish feed on invertebrates, including small crabs and worms, which are picked from crevices on the reef. The adults tend to be more herbivorous than the juveniles and feed on a variety of seaweeds.

Proudly South African

The oceans off southern Africa are home to more than 2 500 known species of fishes (almost 16% of all the known marine fish species in the world). This rich diversity is due to the variety of habitats in this region, ranging from estuaries, mud flats and sandy beaches; rocky shores, coral reefs and kelp beds to ocean depths of more than 5 000m.

About 16% of our coastal fishes are endemic to this region – this means that they are only found off southern Africa and nowhere else in the world. We are proud of them!


Species Facts

  • Endemic to South Africa
  • There are more than 2 500 species of fish that occur off southern Africa, and about 16% of these are endemic
  • Lives in warm Indian and cold Atlantic