Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region, from East Africa to the Line Islands, north to Japan, south to Lord Howe Island. In Australia recorded from north of Exmouth in Western Australia, across the tropical north including the Gulf of Carpentaria, south through Queensland to northern New South Wales and including Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.
Frequents seaward reefs, flats and lagoons, sometimes in turbid waters subject to freshwater runoff. Depth to at least 35 m. Juveniles often in estuaries and bays.
Pale body with offset crosshatching on sides. Similar looking Chaetodon auriga has crosshatching on the sides but does not have the black bar at the rear of the body nor on the trailing edge of the dorsal and anal fin. Feeds on algae, crustaceans, worms and coral polyps. Monogamous, forming pairs. Top photograph shows adult, juvenile in lower photograph. Grows to 23 cm but usually 15 to 18 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.213.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://fishbase.ca/summary/Chaetodon-vagabundus.html. Accessed 11/05/18.