Chaetodontidae: L III F2

Chaetodon blackburnii Desjardins 1836, C. dolosus Ahl 1923, C. kleini Bloch 1790 & C. auriga Forsskål, 1775, among others

Brownburnie;                                   Blackedged butterflyfish;   White spotted butterflyfish; Threadfin butterflyfish


Egg diameter in µm

Number of oil globules

Diameter of oil globule in µm

Yolk texture

Perivitelline space

Position of oil globule at hatch

Gut length   at eye- pigment stage








62% of NL



Egg: This egg has a clear oil globule, which is astern in the yolksac of the unhatched embryo (A).The embryo has tiny black pigment spots evenly scattered dorsally along the whole body, which often help to identify this egg on a white background (A1). The oil globule is sometimes light amber, possibly another species in this complex of Chaetodon eggs. The yolk has a rough surface. Incubation is about 26 hours.

Larva: The 1-day larva has yellow pigment dots, ventrally along the notochord, from head to tail, and dorsally, along the notochord, from the oil globule to beyond midtail (B). Black pigment intensifies, giving the larva a greenish tint, with a dark line running from eye to tail, ventrally, and from anus to tail dorsally (C, C1, C2).  Larval colour patterns are variable (e.g. C, C1, C2, D), suggesting numerous species. The dorsal, ventral and caudal finfolds are peppered with fine black dots. (C1). B: 1 day, C: 2 days, D: 4 days (23°C). Plate E shows a 4.5mm NL juvenile Chaetodon from a plankton saample collected off Park Rynie, species unknown.

Attempts at rearing this egg were unsuccessful. Thirtyfour larvae have been barcoded (BOLD); 5 matching 3 adult C. blackburnii, 20 matching 4 adult C. dolosus, 2 matching 4 adult C. auriga, 5 matching 3 adult C. kleinii, 1 matching 1 adult C. vagabundus, and 1 matching 1 adult C. lunula (all adults locally collected). The first two species are the two most common butterflyfish seen in 30-40m on reefs off Park Rynie, along with C. marleyi (FIIIA5). The other four species are seen on the Aliwal Shoal. Further careful separation for barcoding is needed to establish whether all six species can be recognised at the larval stage.


Linked samples Offshore Inshore
Eggs 1895 1960
Hits 217 252

This was a common egg off Park Rynie (Introductory Notes Table 3), and was found all year round (blue graph). It was also common in the DHM samples (green graph), where it showed a summer spawning peak. Egg catches off Park Rynie have remained fairly steady over the study period (white graph). The Park Rynie linked samples showed slightly more eggs inshore (51%), suggesting the adults are spawning mainly around the 30m depth contour. See Section 7.3 and Table 1 of the Introductory Notes, for more information on the linked samples