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16 Fascinating Facts About Great Barrier Reef Butterfly Fish

Nemo, watch out... the butterfly fish is here to steal your thunder!
Here at Sunlover, we love the Great Barrier Reef butterfly fish so much that we have it in our logo!

So what exactly is it about these little critters that we are so fond about?

These 16 fun facts about Great Barrier Reef butterfly fish will have you craving an underwater butterfly hunt on your next Cairns Great Barrier Reef Trip...

Sorry Nemo... The Great Barrier Reef is about to have a new A lister...

1. Butterfly fish are monogamous and stay with their selected partner for their entire life! With one-third of Australian marriages ending in divorce, us humans could certainly take a few pointers from these colourful creatures.

2. Baby butterfly fish are called 'fry'. They go through a 'tholichtys stage', in which they grow a large bony armor to protect themselves.

3. When butterfly fish spawn, their eggs become part of the plankton. Unfortunately, this makes them a particularly tasty delicacy to plankton-feeders.

4. The Great Barrier Reef butterfly fish's real name is 'chaetodontidae', which is a combination of the words 'hair' and 'tooth' in Ancient Greek. We dare you to say 'chaetodontidae' 10 times really fast!

A Rainford's Butterflyfish

5. The closest relative to the butterfly fish is the angel fish. Butterfly fish are distinguished by their long pointed mouths, which they use to eat from small nooks and crannies in coral.

6. You may think that fish can't speak, but the butterfly fish may just prove you wrong! The multiband butterfly fish is known to make sounds to warn off threats. Marine biologists believe that this is an internally generated sound that is caused by the resonance of the swim bladder.

7. These cute critters feed mostly on coral pops, although they are known to enjoy the odd crustacean as a snack!

8. Butterfly fish were iconic in Japan in the 1990s. As a matter of fact, many Japanese tourists yearned to see these creatures on The Great Barrier Reef. Long story short, they were pretty much the Nemo of the 90s.

Two melon butterfly fish forage for coral polps

9. Females produce a whopping 3000 to 4000 eggs a day.

10. Butterfly fish may be named for their vibrant patterns, but their colours and patterns fade when they settle against the coral to protect them from predators.

11. To their marine pals under the sea, some species of butterfly fish may look like they have three eyes! The spot on the tail acts as a 'third eye' to confuse those pesky predators.

12. There are 130 species of butterfly fish. As well as dwelling on The Great Barrier Reef, they can also be found in tropical and subtropical pats of the Pacific, Atlantic & Indian Ocean.

13. Forget zebroids and ligers, butterflyfish have been known to breed with other species to create hybrid reef fish!

14. A large amount of butterflyfish are a sign of a healthy reef! This species thrives on fresh coral.

15. The majority of butterflyfish are small and dainty, but the largest species, the lined butterflyfish and the saddle butterflyfish, can grow to 30cm!

16. The schooling bannerfish is also known as a 'false Moorish idol' and is often mistaken for the Moorish idol. Will the real Moorish idol please stand up...

You can spot butterflyfish on our Moore Reef Cairns Great Barrier Reef Tour!