Body thin and round in profile. Forehead slightly concave, the eye concealed by a dark bar on the head. Body silver-gray, with numerous dark, thin lines that radiate at a diagonal from the midbody. A black spot, ringed in white, on the rear body near the upper base of the tail (C. capistratus). A submarginal band on the rear dorsal, tail and anal fins. Ventral fins yellow.
Size up to 7.5 cm.
Juveniles with the black spot near the tail base and two wide, dusky body bars. Ventral fins yellow. Very young have a second, smaller black spot ocellated in white on the rear dorsal fin, above the larger spot.
Inhabits shallow reefs and occurs singly or in pairs. Feeds mainly on zoantharians, polychaete worms, gorgonians and tunicates.
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.