Saddleback Butterflyfish
Saddleback Butterflyfish

Saddleback Butterflyfish

Chaetodon falcula

Saddleback Butterflyfish

Chaetodon falcula is known under many different common names in English, such as Saddleback Butterflyfish, Saddled Butterflyfish, Indian double-saddle Butterflyfish, Blackwedged Butterflyfish, Sickle Butterflyfish, Pigface Coralfish, and Falcula Butterflyfish.

Chaetodon falcula has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical distribution, habit and habits

The Saddleback Butterflyfish inhabits the Indian Ocean where it can be found from eastern Africa to Indonesia. It is reef-associated and typically encountered on the reef edge and upper slope. It likes environments effected by powerful current and rarely ventures below 15 meters / 50 feet. This species typically live in pairs or form small groups. Juveniles are known to hide among the corals. 

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Saddleback Butterflyfish was 20 cm / 7.9 in.

The fish derives its common name Saddleback Butterflyfish from the two well-defined black saddles that can be seen on the back. The body is decorated with shades of orange and bright yellow on both back and tail. The rest of the fish is mainly white, but the sides are adorned with narrow black stripes. There are two black patches on the dorsal side and a black eye band.

Saddleback Butterflyfish care

It is not advisable to keep this species in an aquarium smaller than 100 gallons / 375 litres. The aquarium should have plenty of free space for the fish to swim around in.

The Saddleback Butterflyfish is semi-aggressive towards other fish. If you want to keep several specimens of the same species, the safest course of action is to keep a compatible pair.

It is considered reef compatible with caution, but don’t forget that it likes to eat anemones (including mushroom anemones), hard corals and certain soft corals.

The recommended water temperature for an aquarium with Saddleback Butterflyfish is 72-78º F / 22-25.5º C. Keep pH-value at 8.1-8.4 and the specific gravity within the 1.020-1.025 range.

Feeding Saddleback Butterflyfish

The Saddleback Butterflyfish is a carnivore species that feeds chiefly on invertebrates in the wild. It is important to keep it on a varied diet consisting of many different types of invertebrates in the aquarium. You can for instance give it clams and various shrimps. It will normally accept dead food without hesitation, e.g. pieces of crustacean flesh. It loves anemones and it is a good idea to give it anemones once in a while as a treat.

Breeding Saddleback Butterflyfish

This is an egg laying species that scatters the eggs. The Saddleback Butterflyfish forms pair during breeding.


Butterflyfish Articles:

Copperbanded Butterflyfish – Chelmon rostratus
Golden Butterflyfish – Chaetodon semilarvatus
Klien's Butterflyfish – Chaetodon kleinii
Lined Butterflyfish – Chaetodon lineolatus
Longfin Bannerfish – Heniochus acuminatus
Raccoon Butterflyfish – Chaetodon lunula
Schooling Bannerfish – Heniochus diphreutes
Threadfin Butterflyfish – Chaetodon auriga
Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish – Forcipiger flavissimus


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