Journal of Ethology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 11-15

First online:

Behaviors in agonistic interaction of the butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus)

  • S. YabutaAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan Tel. +81-75-753-4075; Fax +81-75-753-4113 e-mail:

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The butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus) forms heterosexual pair bonds. Each pair defends a feeding territory against conspecifics. In the field, I observed the agonistic interactions related to territoriality, and recognized nine behavioral patterns: staring, parallel swimming, rushing, tail-up display, chasing, fleeing, encircling, TT-fighting (two-piled-tops fighting), and attacking. Almost all interactions were conventional fighting in which attacking seldom occurred. In rare cases, interactions escalated to TT-fighting. In these cases, attacks were frequent, and outcomes were significant (e.g., territorial takeover and serious injuries).

Key words Territoriality Lateral display Conventional fighting Escalated fighting