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It is a distinct species, most closely related to the fourspot butterflyfish (C. quadrimaculatus). Together they are basal in the subgenus Exornator, and might be intermediate between the core group of this subgenus and the species of the Rhombochaetodon (or Roaops) lineage. If that is correct, the latter would require to be merged into Exornator. If the genus Chaetodon is split up, Exornator might become a subgenus of Lepidochaetodon.
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