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It grows to a maximum of 20 cm (almost 8 in) long. The body is yellow with a black patch surrounded by a blue circle below the dorsal fin and two curved blue lines above the belly. Its vertical black eyestripe is flanked by two blue lines. Like the other butterflyfishes with angular yellow bodíes with black eyestripes and (except in the present species) a single differently-colored patch, it belongs in the subgenus Tetrachaetodon. Among this group it seems to be the most basal living species. If Chaetodon is split up, this subgenus would be placed in Megaprotodon.
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