Body thin and round in profile. Forehead slightly concave, the eye concealed by a dark bar on the head. Body silver to white, with two wide, black midbody bands and in third bar basally in the soft portion of the rear dorsal that extends in the tail base (C. striatus).
Size up to 16 cm.
Juveniles with a black spot ringed in white on the rear dorsal fin. Fins not yellow.
Inhabit coral reefs, from 3 to 55 m. Occurs single or in pairs. Feeds on polychaete worms, coral polyps, crustaceans and mollusk eggs. Adults may form plankton-feeding aggregations of up to 20 individuals and occasionally clean other reef fishes that join the group.
Common to occasional Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.
The Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) is common on Aruba, but not on Bonaire and Curacao. The body has a yellowish back and dorsal fin and a silver-white lower body. The tail is yellow to reddish. A black bar runs over the eye, and there is a dark, bar-like, area on the rear body.