Dorsal fin with 12 spines and 18-21 rays. Anal fin with 3 spines and 16-18 rays. Pectoral fin with 14-15 rays. Body depth 1.6-1.8 in standard length. Overall white with bright yellow fins. Numerous yellow oblique black lines on sides. Upper back blackish. A black blotch above anal spines. A yellow edged, black bar through eyes.
Usually solitary or in pairs in coral-rich areas of reef flats, lagoons, and seaward reefs to a depth of over 15 m. Juveniles inshore. In pairs or traveling in small groups. Feed on octocorallian and scleractinian coral polyps. Oviparous. Form pairs during breeding. Easy to maintain in the aquarium.
Black-backed butterflyfish feeds on coral polyp