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FAQs on Butterflyfish Stocking/ Selection

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Butterflyfish, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Disease, Butterflyfish Reproduction, Hawaiian ButterflyfishesRaccoon B/F's, Double-Saddlebacks, Threadfins

Chaetodon auriga Forsskal 1775, the Threadfin Butterflyfish. A great beauty and hardy aquarium specimen, though it will eat coral polyps and anemones.


Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Butterflyfish compatibility question      8/16/17
Hello Wetweb Media Crew! I hope this email finds you well. ��.
<Thank you Kathy; yes>
I am currently in the finishing stage of cycling my 560 gallon FOWLR tank. ( tank size : L 72", W 60", H 30")
I was wondering if I can put some golden semilarvatus and Tinkeri Butterflyfish together in this tank? In your opinion, would these 2 have a chance of co existing together?
<Yes; have high confidence (have collected both species... in the Red Sea and HI), that they will be fine together in a system of this size, type. I would MAKE SURE the system is completely cycled first>
And, given that the Tinkeri requires a lower water temperature , will the other fishes do okay with this?
<I'd shoot/aim for an intermediate temperature... the mid to upper 70's F will suit all; as will a "normal" spg/density of water; 1.025 or so at this temp.>
Future tankmates that I have in mind would be a red sea emperor angel or a scribbled angel and some tangs.
<Okay>
Thank you very much for taking time out to read my email. Your website has been a source of very useful information to me ever since I got into this hobby.
<Ahh!>
Sincerely yours,
Kathy
<Please do report back regarding your ongoing stocking, observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Butterflyfish compatibility question       8/17/17

Thank you very much For your prompt reply Mr. Fenner. Will keep my fingers crossed that I will be able to find these 2 species of Butterflyfish. I just have a follow up question about the Tinkeri .... is this fish better kept as a single specimen or as a small group of like 3?
<Best as an individual. In the wild almost always found solitary>
�� ( assuming I have enough budget to buy 3. They are quite expensive! )
Again, thank you very much. ����
Kathy
<The genus, subgenus Roa are all worthy (but expensive) Butterflies. BobF>
Re: Butterflyfish compatibility question       8/17/17

Thank you very much Mr. Fenner. Will update you.
Kathy
<Ahh, I thank you Kathy. BobF>

Butterfly Fishes In A Five Foot Tank – 02/14/13
Hello guys,
<<Hey Steve>>
I have a really quick question and won’t take up too much of your time hopefully.
<<Ok>>
I have a five foot long 187 gallon tank (60" x 24" x 30"). I want to put 2 Heniochus butterfly fish into my tank and was wondering if I could also add either 2 yellow pyramid butterfly fish, a latticed butterfly fish, or a golden butterfly fish, with the 2 Heni's? I can’t seem to get a definitive tank size on most of them. I'm also not too sure about the compatibility but since there are all different species I can’t imagine any quarrels between them but then again I could be wrong. I would appreciate any help you could give me.
Thanks,
Steve
<<There’s no guarantee these fishes will get along, but if you can add them all at once I think the Heniochus with either the Latticed Butterfly (Chaetodon sp.), or a “pair” of Golden Butterflies (Semilarvatus sp.), or a “pair” of Yellow Pyramid Butterflies (Hemitaurichthys sp.) could do fine in this tank. Adding more than four of these fishes total is pushing it a bit for this tank, in my humble opinion. Cheers, EricR>>
Re: Butterfly Fishes In A Five Foot Tank – 02/19/13

Thanks for the reply Eric,
<<Quite welcome Steve…and my apologies for this late response>>
The Heniochus are the fish I really want to put in. I actually didn't think I could put a pair of golden butterfly fish in as well, they're a favourite of mine so that's a bonus, but I'm thinking of putting a yellow tang and a fox face rabbit fish in the tank as well as the 3 or 4 butterfly fish. Would this be ok or would I have to rethink my stocking list?
<<I think one or the other (Tang or Rabbit Fish) here...at least for now…see how the system handles the bio-load>>
Sorry for all the questions Eric, but I appreciate your help.
Thanks,
Steve
<<No worries mate…happy to share… EricR>>
R2:  Butterfly Fishes In A Five Foot Tank – 02/20/13

Thanks again Eric,
<<Always welcome Steve>>
No worries on the late reply mate you've been very helpful and I’ll take your advice.
<<Ah good>>
I got a magnificent fox face yesterday it's the first I've seen one here in Ireland so I snapped him up.
<<A “magnificent” fish <grin>…and likely the better choice versus the Yellow Tang re control of nuisance alga>>
So I’ll wait at least a month then I’ll add the butterfly fish and I’ll take things from there.
<<Excellent>>
Thanks again Eric,
Steve
<<Good luck with the fishes!  EricR>>

Re: Suitable for a Mandarin? Plus BF comp.     10/24/12
Hello,
<Jeff>
It's been close to 2 months now and my green mandarin has been doing great!
 He has no interest when I feed the other fish, but definitely is getting plenty of pods to keep his belly full and has grown since I got him.  He is most active around "dusk" when the lights are low and the pods begin to come out more. 
I have seen no visible evidence of pod populations waning since I added the mandarin.  The other fish seem to completely ignore the mandarin and let him do his thing.  I really enjoy the mandarin, so thanks again for your encouragement!
<Welcome>
Next question.  I am considering trading my one-spot Foxface for a coral, which would open up some room to add another fish.  I'd really love to add a butterfly fish, though realize they can be a challenge in a reef setting and ideally they would should be added as one of the first fish rather than last.   The leading candidates I'm considering are the Longnose butterfly and Chelmon marginalis. 
From the research I've done the Longnose would be the safer bet.  These are my concerns that I wanted to get your thoughts on (plus anything else I'm not considering).  I also realize that fish vary from individual to individual, so there are no guarantees. 
1) Compatibility with my rock flower anemones.  I may be adding a tube anemone
<See WWM re... I wouldn't>

(I have some open space for one in a back corner), so that would be another factor.
2) Compatibility with LPS and SPS corals
<Both species are about as "coral" compatible as a Butterflyfish gets>
3) Aggression with my other fish.  I think the Kole tang is the only candidate to act aggressively, but overall the only aggression he shows is occasionally
chasing my red-line wrasse around harmlessly.  (The tang and Foxface get along great)
<Not likely an issue>
4) Would the butterfly make a big dent on the pod population, outcompeting the mandarin for food?
<Not much really from either one of these BFs... some species of Chaetodontids are very zooplanktivorous though>
If the butterfly wouldn't make a good choice, my next choice would be another Halichoeres wrasse.
<Okay. Bob Fenner>
Jeff 

Juvenile Butterflyfish. BF sel. f'     7/2/12
Hi, Do any of you guys and girls know why in the trade you never see small, say 3 or 4 cm.s Yellow Longnose or Copperband Butterflyfish?
<These are not collected, used in the trade... Butterflyfishes period "die easily"... Small ones almost always>

 I have never seen them diving also? Regards, Adam.
<I have; though they're usually "hidden" deeply w/in branching types of hard corals. BobF> 

Butterflyfish forming mated pairs? Chaetodon Behavior/Sexing    2/28/12
Hi,
<Hello Adam>
As we know many species of butterfly fish form mated pairs. I have two questions which I am not sure you can answer. 1. If one of the pair dies does the other fish find a new mate, or carry on alone, or mourn and die I am particularly interested in Chaetodon Trifasciatus.
<I would tend to believe the remaining fish would pair up with another. 
Why the C. Trifasciatus, an extremely difficult Butterflyfish to keep and an obligatory coral feeder.
 2. How do the fish know what sex the other is as there are no external differences. I imagine it must be a chemical sense?
<There are physical differences in some species and egg bound females tend to be a little plump.  Other than that I will ask Bob to comment here.><<Can't tell in almost all cases I've seen UW. B>>
 Regards,
<Ditto.  James (Salty Dog)>
Adam.
Re Butterflyfish forming mated pairs? Chaetodon Behavior/Sexing 2/28/12

Hi,
<Hello Adam>
When I swim in my local beach I see many of these butterfly fish and they always seem in pairs.
<Many species do pair up.  Have you been able to identify the species you have seen?>
As we know it is unlikely that they will both live to the same age. Is there an area where they would pair up as the local fish are fully grown at about 5 to 6 inches.
<Likely so.  Bob is an amphibian and dives their waters/observes their behavior often and may input here.>
Therefore once in my area how would they find a new mate, or do they swim over large distances or the currents take them into "communal" zones.
<Butterflyfish generally spawn at early dusk and usually only pairs are involved and this is what you may be seeing depending on the species.
During the reef courtship the fish chase each other around, doing headstands and lateral displays.  A pair will circle each other until one swims off while the other follows.  Juveniles are generally found in shallow grassy areas where they feed.  Some species will form large aggregations and swim over large areas in search of food.  There are many species of Butterflyfish and their personalities/behavior can vary.>
 Thanks,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Butterflyfish forming mated pairs? Chaetodon Behavior/Sexing 2/28/12

Hi James,
<Hello Adam>
As in my earlier email the species is Chaetodon Trifasciatus.
<Depending on your location, it may also be a Chaetodon lunulatus which is said
(Randall) to be a subspecies of Chaetodon Trifasciatus.  Either one is a poor choice
for hobbyists as both are obligatory coral feeders with preference to Pocillopora corals.
A gorgeous fish for sure.  Seems like all the gorgeous fish are the ones most difficult to keep.
And this species does indeed form pairs when breeding but I do not believe they, or any Chaetodon species are paired for their entire life.....more like a hot date. :-)
Bob may/will comment if I am incorrect.>
Regards,
<Ditto.  James (Salty Dog)>
Adam.

Butterfly tank mates; stkg./sel.    11/18/11
I am in the early stages of a FOWRL build. Planning on a 180 gallon, but don't have the equipment picked out yet.
I am going to build this around two specimens, a snowflake and H tusk fish.
I have been considering a tang and butterfly mix. I am familiar with the species except butterflies.
I don't have any particular species picked because I wasn't sure about the mix. What do you think?
<Chaetodontids could go in here... volume, tankmate-wise. Some are far more suitable than others>
Also, are there any corals that will survive butterflies?
<Yes>
Mushrooms or green star polyps maybe? Anything to add a little life to the live rock.
<Take a read through WWM on the family: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/FishInd2.htm
... My top three choices are raccoons, threadfins, Heniochus acuminatus.
Bob Fenner>

Butterfly tankmates
I am planning a 240 gallon fowlr tank. I am planning my fish selections around a harlequin tusk, snowflake eel, and possible a porky. Are there any butterfly's that can coexist with these tankmates?
<Mmm, well, there are some choices that have much better likelihood than others. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm
and the linked files...>
The skimmer that I plan to use has yet to be picked, but it will be very aggressive.
<Yes... a very good idea to place the BF/s first. Bob Fenner>
James

Butterflyfish ID/Four Eye Butterflyfish/Poor Butterflyfish 1/31/11
Hello,
<Hello Richard.>
I'm trying to identify a butterfly fish that I have purchased from local fish store.
It says assorted Atlantic butterfly but couldn't find out any more information on it.
I browsed your site but couldn't find anything on it either however did see the picture on your butterfly fish section.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ButterflyPIX/ChaetodonPIX/C.%20capistratus/Chaetodon%20capistratus%20COX%20vert.jpg 
Can someone help me identify this fish for me please?
<Is a Chaetodon capistratus (Four Eye Butterfly Fish) and very difficult to adapt to prepared foods. Wild foods include, but not limited to, are mainly cnidarians, Polychaete worms, gorgonians and tunicates. I'd try my best to return this fish. Always best to research before buying.>
Thank you so much.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Richard.

Re Butterflyfish ID/Four Eye Butterflyfish/Poor Butterflyfish 1/31/11- 2/1/11
Hello James,
<Richard>
Thanks for the quick response.
<You're welcome.>
Yea, this was an impulse buy and I'm not too proud of it. However to justify for it, I couldn't figure it out on the store because they didn't know the name of the fish as well. (usually I'm tapping on my smart phone researching in the store haha) It has been there close to 3 weeks and was eating brine shrimps well when was fed and at the price tag of $7.99, I couldn't resist this beauty.
<Eating is a good sign.>
I knew that butterflies are hard to take care of but looking at the article in your site and your recommendation, it looks like it's REALLY difficult.
<The difficult part is getting it to eat nutritious foods.>
I minced up some squid, shrimp and scallops and prepared Nori and Mysis shrimps. Hopefully it will start to eat then I can wean on to Spectrum pellets and flakes as well...
There is no way I can take back the fish. Any personal recommendation that you can give me to take care of this finicky fish, I would appreciate it.
<Your above food recipe is good. Might want to paste this mixture on a Brain Coral (or similar) skeleton. Although Brine Shrimp isn't all that nutritious, soaking it with a few drops of Selcon is advantageous as long as it still eats the Brine Shrimp. I also suggest feeding small amounts three or four times daily. Might want to look through our FAQs on Butterfly Fish feeding for more ideas/suggestions.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bffdsfdgfaqs.htm James (Salty Dog)>
Richard.

Aiptasia Gone!!!   11/20/10
Hi Bob & crew,
<Hey Edith>
Success at last!
<Yay!>
Like everyone else, I have been fighting a mostly losing battle with Aiptasia in my 90 g. FOWLR + shrimp, snails, polyps. A couple weeks ago I introduced a Klein butterfly and two skunk cleaner shrimp to replace the one who died.
Within a couple days, ALL the Aiptasia had disappeared. I don't know who ate them, but I am guessing it was BF. I know other butterflies will kill that pest, but I haven't read anything about Klein butterflies (Chaetodon kleini).
<One of my fave Chaetodontid species>
Just wanted to share the good news!
Edie
<Thank you. BobF>

Indian Ocean Chaetodontidae in the reef aquarium 3/10/10
Hello Mr. Fenner,
<Michael>
I have recently read with interest on the WetWebMedia website your articles on Butterflyfishes. I am keen to add a Butterflyfish to my Aquarium but have yet to decide what, if any, would be best suited to the environment I am able to provide ?
<??>
For information, my current live rock and miracle mud based system has been up and running for just over 2 years and consists of a 6x2x2 aquarium (plus sump) with 2 centrally arranged coral 'bommies' for max. swimming space with lots of Tunze stream flow and 3x250w 14,000k halide lighting.
<Sounds/reads as very nice>
Corals mainly 'soft' including assorted Discosoma & Ricordea, 3 Sinularia, 7 Sarcophyton, Pachyclavularia colonies, several small Zoanthid and yellow polyp colonies and 1 large 'colt' coral. Also, 1 Favia brain coral and 1 Platygyra maze brain coral (I would like to add Favia, Favites, Acanthastrea, Blastomussa coral species at some point)
Fish population is 5 x Chromis atripectoralis, 1 pair of Amphiprion Percula, Centropyge Bispinosus & Eibli, 1 Labroides Dimidiatus and 1 Naso brevirostris, 1 Zebrasoma Desjardini, 1 Acanthurus Leucosternon and 1 Acanthurus bariene.
<Glad to find your tangs all get along>
Many clean up crew including 8 x cleaner shrimps, 1 Blue tuxedo Urchin, 1 large serpent star and many assorted snails, hermits, starfish etc etc..........
With my set-up, I have tried to mirror my own experiences of the Indian Ocean, especially the waters around the Maldives (where I went on a holiday just last November) and the pictures I was able to take whilst snorkeling there on both the Honeymoon and Holiday - with the obvious exception of the Coral beauty dwarf angelfish ! and perhaps the Eibli angel too !!
This has led me to the subject of the Butterflyfish for my own aquarium, I am particularly drawn to Hemitaurichthys Zoster and would love to add a pair, but in 4 years of marine fish keeping I think I have seen them available for sale on just one occasion !!!!
<The genus is quite hardy in large systems... just never has generated much popularity... and it's/their behavior is such that they are not easily caught by conventional catch gear (fence, barrier nets on the bottom)>
So I have looked through my underwater photos and have identified the following species that are more readily available from my local retailer (Oasis, Manchester).
These are Forcipiger Longirostris, Chaetodon Collare and Chaetodon Auriga and I would be particularly grateful if you would impart some of your knowledge and experience with the family Chaetodontidae and be able to offer any advice on my chances of successfully maintaining any 1 or 2 of these Butterflyfish in my own aquarium set-up and what, if any, fish / coral husbandry issues I would have to consider or would likely be expected to encounter.
<Oh! This is largely archived on our website:
http://wetwebmedia.com/index.html
you can either peruse the Indices or use the gen. to more specific search tools placed there:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm>
The messages in the industry seem to be so very mixed with retailers seeing the addition of almost any Butterflyfish into a reef as a big no no !!!
<Agreed... many folks in the trade eschew trading in Chaetodontids for their at-times easy loss. This family needs special care in handling, shipping in larger bags (more cost...) than fishes of similar size>
but species experts such as yourself offering hope to those aquarists who harbour thoughts and dreams of keeping these fishes successfully in our reef aquariums.
<Oh yes... many BF species have been kept (in public aquariums w/ good records) for teens of years>
I am sure you are inundated with such questions from confused aquarists like me but any advice based upon your own experiences would be very much appreciated indeed.
<Glad to help you. Again, WWM is a worthy collection of input here... other than the Collare, the other species mentioned can be kept as singles... though are much more interesting in twos...>
Yours sincerely and best regards,
Michael Taylor
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon and large angel compatibility with mushrooms 8/30/2009
<Ahh, Bruce, friend Steven Pro's wife's maiden name and your family's are the same>
Hi WWM crew,
I've been enjoying your site for some time now, and I appreciate all the help you give to us in the hobby.
I am going from a 125 gallon (5' X 18" X 24" tall), to a 180 gallon, (8' X 18" X 24" tall). This is to be a FOWLR based on the fish that I am choosing and in the sense that I am not specifically setting up a reef
tank. However I do believe that a few sessile inverts really help to add to the aesthetic appeal of a system. Currently I have a Chaetodon miliaris, Centropyge bicolor and bispinosus, and three BG Chromis, along
with several Actinodiscus, a Ricordea, two Sarcophyton and a Fungia in my 125. So now to the hard part.
I would like the new tank to contain two or three additional Chaetodon, depending on ultimate size, and one large angel as well as a Naso lituratus. My goal is to find species that will leave the mushrooms alone.
I can always find a home for the Fungia if I need to. I am interested in adding any of the following Chaetodon: falcula, semilarvatus, melannotus, ulietensis, or collare.
<Mmm, amongst Chaetodontids, these are all good choices... the Blue Face gets big... I'd likely choose the Ulietensis>
For the angels, either a Pomacanthus annularis, imperator, or semicirculatus, or a Holocanthus.
<Well... the Koran is my choice here... if this is what you're looking for from me/us>
It's been very difficult finding the few cnidarians that would be unmolested by such a varied group, and being only able to choose a total of three or four fish, I want to make the right choice the first time.
I am thinking that mushrooms seem to be left alone by quite a few otherwise non reef safe fish. So I am considering that maybe we might be able to "create" a new category of tank style. Not FOWLR or reef, but
something in between; that is a non reef safe tank, with a few non palatable cnidarians and crustaceans. Any further suggestions? Thanks!
Bruce
<Can be done! Bob Fenner>

A question for Bob, please (since he wrote the article), B'fly fish sel., disease   8/20/09
Hi there Bob. I have learned much from your book, the photos are fantastic, as well.
I have a question on the disease resistance nature of two species you place high on the list of suitable aquarium inhabitants. In one write up on Golden Butterflies, and in a few questions from readers, you state they usually come in pretty clean, and would really only recommend a dip before placing directly in the display, skipping the QT for these.
However, I followed a link you posted to a reader that gave an updated version for the care of these butterflies, and in that article you'd stated they are quite susceptible to Ich and velvet.
Perhaps I interpreted your statement incorrectly?
<Sorry for the confusion... this Chaetodontid is "more susceptible" than many fishes/groups used in our interest, but amongst the Butterflyfishes as a family is very sturdy, typically parasitic et al. disease resistant. Does this make (more) sense? Tough as BF's, but BFs themselves are quite susceptible...>
do not point this out to show a contradiction, for I don't believe there is one...only to receive clarification on the disease prone nature of the Golden Butterfly.
Are they as susceptible to Ich and velvet on the level of a Hippo Tang? Or more hardy (disease-wise)
<Much less susceptible than Paracanthurus... which in turn are relatively tough for Acanthurids!>
like a damsel or a Mac Angel?
<Two notches down from a Mac let's say>
Your approval of them had me put a pair on hold at my LFS.
My second choice for my 320 FOWLR display (that currently only houses an 8" Naso Tang) would be a pair of schooling Bannerfish if the Golden Butterfly is not the best choice. I would like to get a
pair of either one. It all comes down to which of the two are more susceptible to getting those marine
diseases of Ich/velvet.
<Heniochus of all species are about "on par" with Chaetodon larvatus...>
I am aware that even the hardiest of fishes can succumb to such parasites,
but I'd love to hear from you which of the two species you'd recommend on just that one factor alone.
Your decades of fish keeping and wholesale importing have certainly yielded some fascinating files
of information.
Thank you kindly,
Martha
<Happy to share, Bob Fenner>

Re: Bob, please (since he wrote the article)/THANX! 8/20/09

Greeting Bob, thank you for taking the time to explain, it is very clear now.
2 notches down from a Mac is great! I'll get a pair of both the Goldens and the Banners. Thanks again.
<Ahh! I know you will enjoy them>
Also. I live in San Diego. I saw a news report a couple of months back regarding the canyon fire issues a little further north of me. There was a resident named Robert Fenner featured. He was in his backyard explaining how he'd planted all of these ice plants as a safety barrier to the annual canyon fires and the city wanted him to rip it all out just because he didn't have city permission to plant them, even though it was on his own property! (go figure)...He was shown sitting at a large dining table inside his home as well as out on his wooden deck overlooking an incredible valley view. Was that you?
Martha
<Yes, Martha (my dear). BobF>

Reef Safe Butterfly Fish? 2/4/09 Hello WetWebMedia. <Hi Kai> I am considering adding a Butterflyfish for my reef tank. My tank contains ONLY LPS and soft corals. In terms of reef-safe butterflies, I have boiled down my choices to a Copperband, a Long Nosed Butterflyfish and a Semilarvatus butterfly <I'd cross this one off from your list. Can be difficult to acclimate and likely the least reef friendly.> I have had experience with a Copperband before. Survived for 2 months until a power outage killed it. It was eating everything including pellets too...what a rare find. <Absolutely!> Anyway, my question is, how reef-safe are they? Some people say 50% some say 70%, but they all give different statistics... I know it is hard to give an exact value as every fish is different. However, which out of the 3 do you think is the best choice? <My choice would be the Long Nose, but no butterfly fish can be completely trusted in a reef tank, it is the chance one must take if a butterfly fish is desired in a reef system.> I have read somewhere before that you can tell what the fishes eat by the shape of their mouths? In this case, the Copperband and the Longnose both have....long mouths....probably for reaching into crevices for worms and other inverts? <Yep, the will destroy any sessile worm population you might have.> The semilarvatus butterfly has a short stubby mouth for coral polyps? I am quite uncertain and I do not know if the material that I have read is true or false. I would really appreciate the help you have to offer :) I really don't mind any of the 3 choices haha. Except maybe the semilarvatus....it has the potential to outgrow my tank. <All your choices need more room than you are providing. I would not recommend putting any butterfly fish in your tank. Chances for success are best when kept in large systems. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm> My tank is only 3X2X2 feet. Best regards- <Cheers, and now we have a groupie following. Mmm, might be better than a roadie. James (Salty Dog)> Kai, your number 1 groupie

Butterflyfish Compatibility, sel.  12/30/08 Dear Bob, <Rusty> I plan on having a 180 gallon tank with a Saddle butterfly, a semilarvatus butterfly, a Heniochus Bannerfish, a collare butterfly, and a Copperband butterfly that I plan to keep with a clean up crew. Would these fish be safe to keep with a Linckia starfish, a tuxedo urchin, cleaner shrimps, Nassarius snails, hermit crabs, and turbo snails? Would these fish be OK to keep in a 180g tank with a 55 gal sump with loads of Chaetomorpha algae? <Mmm... if it were, my system, I'd do a bit of rethinking re this mix of Butterflyfishes... a single Ephippium/Saddleback is fine, as are Chelmons... but the Gold mask really need to be in pairs/twos to be happy and the Heniochus and Collares are really only happy in a group... 3, 5... So, I'd eliminate some, add others... to the numbers here. They'll all get along with the invertebrates you list... though I think Linckia Seastars are poor bets in almost all captive settings. The size of the tank is fine for what you list. Bob Fenner>

Re: Flutterby, sel., sys.   - 6/3/08 Thanks for the reply! <Welcome> I've revised my budget and am looking at a 100gal tank now instead of the 80! Would a raccoon, Copperband AND Blackback butterfly all co-exist in a tank this size? Or am I just being greedy... 3 butterflies in a 100gal? Is it do-able?  <Mmm... is, but... would be better to have another species mix... biotopic come to mind?> I just love butterflies... First thing I'd do if I won the lottery would be to set up a swimming-pool sized aquarium for them and try to get them to breed! :) anyway, dreaming aside... I am somewhat torn on another butterfly that I think most would like to have but would struggle in their conscience to do so... A melon butterfly. A LFS got two in, which makes me think they must know nothing about fish at all! <Happens> Anyway, one didn't eat and died. Sadly unsurprising. The second is eating heartily a variety of foods... I just don't know what to do. It's the most beautiful fish I've ever seen, a reasonable 3-4" in length and is creating the impression it would happily live in an aquarium for some time (having lost no weight over the last couple of weeks)... But by buying this would I be perpetuating the nasty habit of removing them from the wild in the first place? I guess so.. <Perhaps a well-established uncrowded reef system of size. BobF>

Re: Butterflyfish aquarium  3/9/08 Thank you for your quick reply! On my list which one would you consider to be the most difficult? <Mmm, the Saddleback... with the Raffle's and Collare as individuals (better in groups) not far behind> Also, which one would you replace if I were to add the flavissimus (Long Nose)? <Umm, the above...> Lastly, why would you add the raccoon butterfly last? Thank you once again! <Mmm, I would not... whoever answered you previously (not included below) might have other input. Please read the accounts of these species posted on WWM... MUCH useful information re archived there... Bob Fenner> WetWebMedia Crew <crew@wetwebmedia.com> wrote: Butterfly Fish Systems/Compatibility 3/7/08 Hello, I have a standard 180 gallon aquarium, 72x24x24. I wanted to make this a butterfly isotope. I would like to keep one: Chaetodon auriga, Chaetodon collare, Chaetodon ephippium, Chaetodon falcula, Chaetodon fasciatus, Chaetodon rafflesi. I calculated 1 inch per 4 gallons. Am I overcrowding the aquarium? Do I have extra room for any other possible butterflies? Are all these butterflies relatively hardy? In order, how would you add the butterflies into the aquarium? Lastly, are all theses butterflies compatible with each other? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/poorchaetodons.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm Thank you and I love your website!!

Re: Reef Butterflyfish in a Gulf of Mexico Reef Biotope Aquarium... Sel.   1/14/08 Now regarding the pairing of the Reef Butterflyfish...I have spoken with a few shop owners and divers and the Butterflyfish do not pair up until they approach adult size. They are generally collected as juveniles in groups. So my question is will any two juveniles adopt their sex and pair up similar to cherub angels? <Mmm, don't know> Or should I have them held until a pair forms? <Perhaps better> I just don't want to get two juveniles and then they turn out to both be males. Chris Sanchez <Bob Fenner>

Triangular Butterfly fish... ID, fdg., gen. care... researching before buying  – 1/2/08 Hi guys, I've got a question about a triangular Butterflyfish I just bought. It is now housed in a 20g extra high, <... way too small a volume...> with two 10g's on either side (all connected). With one other yellow tail damsel in with him, and some normal inverts. <... normal?> on the site I got him from (saltwaterfish.com) they said his care level was easy <...? Is this a Chaetodon baronessa? C. triangulum? Have you read on WWM re?> and that he ate squid and clam, not a problem. <Is this a Hemitaurichthys sp.? They're zooplanktivorous> After further research, I've come realize its difficult to keep, and eats only coral!!! how can they say that, I don't want him to die, ide rather him have stayed on the reef where he belongs :( he's really beautiful, and seems to be swimming a little and happy although he's now stationary at the top of the tank. Any suggestions on what to feed him or what I should do??? anything is appreciated. Thanks so much, Zack <... You should first figure out what this fish is species wise... Next, either find, give it away to someone who has a viable system to keep it... Next, going forward, investigate before committing resources. Bob Fenner>
Re: Triangular Butterfly fish... ridiculous continuance  1/2/08 Hi, Its housed in the 20g only for now, its small still. <Doesn't matter Zack...> The species is Chaetodon sp. <...? Which Chaetodon... Please... see WWM re this super genus...> after looking at saltwaterfish's website, they have changed the diet to include coral polyps, and changed the care level to easy-moderate. They also now say monitor around worms does this include bristle worms, because I've got those that I can feed him. Anyway with the species now, is there any other info you can tell me. And from now on ill do more extensive research before purchases. Thanks Zack <Please, don't write. READ... BobF>

Golden Butterfly, sel.  4/14/07 Mr. Fenner, <Kirk> I am getting mixed messages from several fish clubs in regards to the hardiness of this fish and ability to keep this fish in captivity. So I thought I would go to the "source" for the correct information. <And good timing... I just finished a "piece" on Chaetodon semilarvatus yesterday! And do agree with your finding concerning opinions re this Red Sea beauty... I took the usual scan/look over the Net and came up with about the same... However, I have extensive personal, industry, collection and international experience with this species of a long time period (forty plus years)... It is not only an exemplary Chaetodontid for marine aquarium use, it ranks high IME as an overall species for such... Most arrive (all are wild-collected, the majority out of Jeddah, transiting through Europe...) in great condition, readily accept foods of all sorts... My piece here: http://wetwebmedia.com/semilarvatusart.htm> I am in the midst of having a 370 acrylic gallon tank built.  I would like to keep this fish, however most everyone I have spoken to about this fish says to avoid it. The all say it is more difficult to feed than a Copperband butterfly (which I have successfully kept before) and it most likely is not reef safe. <I disagree... as you will see/read> My tank will only have a handful of LPS corals (frogspawns, torch, anemones, etc..), but the majority of the tank is FO.  I do know that on my inhabitant list will be least 2 large angelfish. (Emperor and one other). <Should be fine in this size, type of set-up... with suitable Pomacanthids> Am I crazy in trying to attempt to house this fish?? What advice can you give. BTW, I have read your article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/semilarvatusart.htm <Is just spiffed up from ayer... do take a re-read> I look forward to your reply, Kindest regards, Kirk <And to you. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly selection   4/13/07 I am currently having a 370 gallon tank built.  I am researching butterfly fish.  The two species I like the best are the Copperband and Golden Butterfly. I have successfully kept a CBB before, but haven't tried the Golden. <Chaetodon semilarvatus... a great aquarium species for folks with room... http://wetwebmedia.com/semilarvatusart.htm> I would like to know if the size of my tank is big enough to keep both <Is> or should I just choose one or the other? ( I do plan on getting two large angelfish as well). Thanks, Kirk <Could I nudge you into considering a Red Sea biotopic presentation here? Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/redseafwgv1.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Milletseed butterfly   8/24/06 Hi < Howdy! > Had a question about adding one last fish to my 75 gal w/: prism skimmer magnum 350 50 pds live rock and base Seio 620 3 Hagen 270 gph pw's 1 yellow tang 1 clarkii clown 1 purple pseudo 1 bi color blenny 1 coral beauty dwarf angel various mushrooms and polyps ph 8.2 nitrates 20-40 nitrites 0 ammonia 0 I bought a millet seed/lemon butterfly that can get up to 5 inches. < This is not a wise choice for the average reef tank. > This fish is in my qt for 2 weeks now. < I love to read/hear about people practicing this. Brilliant! > Should I add it to my tank or take it back to the LFS, b/c my tank will be overstocked with it? <Regardless of the probability of already being somewhat well stocked before the addition of the butterfly, there is a more serious question at hand: Do you have strong enough feelings for the fish to look past his affinity for your corals? There are some fish I would gladly place in a tank of corals and let them eat to their heart's content. Is this that fish for you? Invariably the butterfly will pick on some of your corals, and for some inexplicable reason, it will choose your favorite Cnidarian to snack on first! So, I again ask, is your love for this fish greater than that of your coral? >   Also are my nitrates too high for this hardy butterfly fish. < The nitrates are not too high, but they do point to either an inadequacy in filtration or maintenance. Good luck in your decision making. RichardB > Thank you very much!!

Raccoon Butterfly problems, too small at purchase  8/23/06 Hi,   I have read through all your articles I could find on getting a raccoon b/f to eat, but I am not having any luck. My new arrival is small (1 to 1 1/2 inches) <... too small> and I was very leery about buying such a small specimen. <You should be... I would take it back, pronto> I visited this fish four times over the course of so many weeks though, and he appeared healthy and was eating flakes like a pig. <Can't, won't live for long on flake food... try it> When I got him home, he ate for the first day, and then quit. I have to mention that when he met my cleaner shrimp, the shrimp went wild on him and exposed (?) a white patch behind his gills (not near them). <Could be a factor> It has not spread and neither the shrimp or the patch have bothered him since that first day, so I am not sure what it is. As far as eating, he will pick off the live rock occasionally, <Good> but will not eat anything else I put in the tank (flakes, Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, Nori, krill, marine cuisine, oysters). So, I followed your advice and bought two different types of clams, pried them open and put them in the tank, so far- no interest. <Mmm, I'd be adding more, fresh live rock...> He is falling fast, I think, starting to lay on his side <A very bad sign> occasionally, swimming around fairly well otherwise. I know I am running out of time. There are no noticeable marks/redness around his mouth or gills. So, finally, for my question, we are thinking if he refuses to eat the clam, should we try transferring him to the refugium for a little while, so he has plenty of access to the copepods with no competition? <An excellent idea> I have to get him to eat something soon -this is about day 5 that I have had him. I am worried though that moving him again may just stress him out so much that he wouldn't make it. Do you think the move would be worth the risk? <Yes... about the only thing that might save this too-small specimen> Also, if I do put him in the refugium, should I put a clam or any other food down there with him? <No, I would not> I would appreciate any help you can give me! Thanks so much for your time. -Take care, Jennifer <Next time... please read re the species, genus (if they're available), family information on WWM re "Selection" for input on ideal size range for first purchasing specimens... like Goldilocks and the tres ursids and pudding temp... Not too big, or small... Bob Fenner>

Choosing a Reef-Safe Butterfly - 07/28/06 Hello again, <<Morning Elliot>> At Sabrina's request I am re-sending this inquiry from a different email address in hopes that others from the crew can access it.  Thank you, Elliot <<I shall try to help.  EricR>> -----Original Message----- Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 1:32 PM Subject: Pyramid, Copperband , or Golden (Semilarvatus) B/F for Reef? Greetings WWM Crew, My dilemma is a matter of choice, the great denominator of this hobby. <<Indeed>> I am trying to decide which if any of these 3 B/F choices to put in my 265 gal. tank.  I have read as much as I have been able to get to on the matter --- the WWM articles, other internet-sourced articles, a number of aquarium publication articles, etc.  I know there are no guarantees. <<Mmm, yes...is important to understand this>> I know individuals of species vary. (Indeed, I have kept a small black-backed B/F for 2 years in a 110 gallon tank with lots of live rock, mushrooms, a few soft corals and lots of small sabellid fan worms without any problems).  But I value your opinions and would like your thoughts. <<Cool!  I'm happy to share my thoughts, experiences>> My 265 gallon has about 250 lbs of live rock, a few mushroom corals, hermit crabs, 4 soft corals (hammer, finger leather, Starpolyps, tree coral), a 1-1/2 inch live sand bed, lots of small sabellid fan worms, and the following fish: 1 med. purple tang, 1 flame angel, 1 Valenciennea puellaris, and 3 Lyretail Anthias. My plans are to add a few more reef-friendly fish and a few more corals, but only soft corals, as my lighting (600 watts of compact fluorescents) dictates. <<Sounds good>> I am considering adding one B/F to the 265 gallon.  My LFS got in a 4" Copperband which, hooray, is eating everything, especially Mysis, like a pig. <<Is a very hardy species once acclimated/feeding>> The LFS also got in a 3" Golden, which I am keeping an eye on. <<Ah yes, Chaetodon semilarvatus...an exquisite fish!  My tank (375g) is a Fiji biotope else I would have some of these, but if I ever go Red Sea!...>> And I have seen almost everyplace but in the WWM article that Pyramids are considered "reef-safe". <<Seems to be highly variable yes...with the "brown" being less safe than the "yellow">> I am not all that concerned for the mushrooms and soft corals, but unlike others who have written to WWM, I truly like the fan worms, and that is my biggest concern. <<Uh-oh...that eliminates the Copperband for sure...and likely the other (any) butterfly species as well>> So here's my question:  how would you rank these 3 choices as a potential addition to my tank, keeping in mind my preference for keeping the fan worms around? <<First-choice the Golden, second-choice the Pyramid...wouldn't even consider the Copperband re your fan worms, though this fish is likely the "most reef-safe" of the three re your corals>> And also, would I need to anticipate gradually replacing my live rock if any of these 3 B/F's were added to the tank (due to the B/F's picking over the critters on/in the rock)? <<I would, yes...and is a good idea/practice in general for the overall continued good health of your tank as doing so also replenished depleted earth/mineral and microbial elements too>> As always, thanks for you consideration and input, Elliot <<Is a pleasure to assist.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Copperband in a Reef?...Sure! - 07/27/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I was hoping to get a Copperband Butterfly after hearing they eat Aiptasia and because they are so beautiful. <<Indeed...striking fish>> My questions are... well I have a reef tank.. so I have many questions.  I read from a few sources that they will eat feather dusters and possibly anemones and I read from your FAQ's that butterflies in general will eat mushrooms and polyp coral.  Will in your opinion a Copperband butterfly eat clams, star polyps, xenia, Acros, Montipora capricornis, Stylophora, LPS, Ricordea, shrimp or starfish? <<I've kept these fish in varying systems with no problems over the years (have one in my current reef tank) regarding the organisms you've just listed.  They will quickly decimate Featherdusters, spaghetti worms, etc....and they will occasionally pick at a clam (though I think this is mostly a case of mistaken identity where the fish goes after a "worm-like" protuberance, or goes for a food item that has drifted inside the clam), but never persistently/causing permanent damage in my experience.  There's always the chance a certain individual will be problematic...but this fish is worth the gamble in my opinion>> I hate to ask so many detailed and tedious thing so a Y , N or a maybe after each item would suffice as I don’t want to waste TOO much of your time. <<No worries mate>> One last thing, I currently have a 4-inch Pacific Sailfin Tang that has been in the tank for a year now. <<I hope this is a big tank>> Will the tang pick on the butterfly or do they look different enough. <<Mmm, is likely the tang won't like the butterfly to start.  But again, in my experience, it's not been a lasting issue with Copperbands and Tangs>> Thanks for the help. Adam   <<Regards, EricR>>

Butterflies and Webmail - 07/25/2006 Greetings WWM Crew, <Hi, Elliot!  My apologies for the lateness of this reply; it seems our webmail system is unable to let other crewmembers view your email.  Mine is one of the only systems that will let us view and respond, and unfortunately, I know next to nothing of marine butterflies.  My biggest request to you is to re-send your message, using a different email program; even a temporary yahoo or hotmail address would do.> My dilemma is a matter of choice, the great denominator of this hobby.   <Such a true statement!> I am trying to decide which if any of these 3 B/F choices to put in my 265 gal. tank.  I have read as much as I have been able to get to on the matter --- the WWM articles, other internet-sourced articles, a number of aquarium publication articles, etc.  I know there are no guarantees.   <Right.> I know individuals of species vary. <Right.> (Indeed, I have kept a small black-backed B/F for 2 years in a 110 gallon tank with lots of live rock, mushrooms, a few soft corals and lots of small sabellid fan worms without any problems).  But I value your opinions and would like your thoughts.  My 265 gallon has about 250 lbs of live rock, a few mushroom corals, hermit crabs, 4 soft corals (hammer, finger leather, star polyps, tree coral), a 1-1/2 inch live sand bed, lots of small sabellid fan worms, and the following fish: 1 med. purple tang, 1 flame angel, 1 Valenciennea puellaris, and 3 lyretail Anthias.  My plans are to add a few more reef-friendly fish and a few more corals, but only soft corals, as my lighting (600 watts of compact fluorescents) dictates.  I am considering adding one B/F to the 265 gallon.  My LFS got in a 4” Copperband which, hooray, is eating everything, especially Mysis, like a pig.   <A VERY good sign, but maybe not a guarantee on survival, so do keep that in mind.> The LFS also got in a 3” Golden, which I am keeping an eye on.  And I have seen almost everyplace but in the WWM article that Pyramids are considered “reef-safe”.   <I'm glad you've put that in quotes....  most everything "reef-safe" should be considered something more like "potentially reef-safe".> I am not all that concerned for the mushrooms and soft corals, but unlike others who have written to WWM, I truly like the fan worms, and that is my biggest concern.  So here’s my question:  how would you rank these 3 choices as a potential addition to my tank, keeping in mind my preference for keeping the fan worms around?   <.... I'm going to have to claim ignorance on this one, mate.  I'd really like you to re-send this query so others might have a shot at it.> And also, would I need to anticipate gradually replacing my live rock if any of these 3 B/F’s were added to the tank (due to the B/F’s picking over the critters on/in the rock)?   <This would be a good plan, butterflies or no, for *any* system.> As always, thanks for you consideration and input,  Elliot <And thank you for your kind words!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Clown Trigger in a FOWLR? III - 07/03/06 Words of Wisdom... Eric, <<Matt>> Having "digested" your previous response, and having given consideration to the practicalities of "mixing" large predators with b'flies (in terms of water quality required, food types offered and regularity of feeding, and so on) I think it might be better (for me, not generally speaking) to stick with one or the other. <<Intuitive of you...and would serve all fish keepers in "general" to make these considerations (and more) as well.  I strongly feel that keeping fishes (especially "difficult" species) becomes easier when they are kept in "natural" groupings, e.g. - not mixing fishes from different oceans, keeping fishes together from the same type environment or niche (high light levels vs. low light levels, shallow water vs. deep water, and with similar habits (active fast movers vs. slow deliberate feeders).  I'm not saying hobbyists can't be successful to the contrary, just that it's easier (on both the aquarist and the fishes) when the setting is more "natural" to the fishes>> I have enough info to ponder the pros & cons of a lionfish only tank, hence my query will concentrate of a b'fly type system. <<Okay>> I have also discounted the idea of a trigger in the interest of being able to have a decent clean up crew (stars & snails mainly). <<Mmm, do consider this...I have a 5" male Bluethroat trigger (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) in a large reef system.  He shares this tank with two species of Lysmata shrimp, serpent stars, Asterina starfish, Turbo, Cerith, and Nassarius snails...to my knowledge he has never touched any, or even shown an interest...though you'll notice I don't keep hermits so I don't know how he would react to these>> I think the clean up crew is probably even more important to keep down levels of dissolved organics, as will the inclusion of a macro algae refugium (obviously skimmers, and LR etc will all be included). <<Excellent>> If I go for a b'fly set up, I would opt for a pair of Chaetodon semilarvatus, and hence I would probably opt for a Red Sea biotope, so I can keep the s.g. nice and high as recommended by Bob in the "Best B'flies from the red sea" article. <<Indeed...I love biotope displays>> In such a set up, realistically how many b'flies could I get in there? <<Hmm...fewer than you would like <grin> >> I was surprised by Bob's recommendation of allocating 20 gals per fish - at which rate I could put up to 9 b'flies in a 180. <<A "generalized" statement no doubt...other factors to consider as well...adult size, temperament, etc.>> I know this guideline should not be taken literally, so I tried to improvise and extrapolate a realistic stocking rate taking into account the species I am considering. <<Ah, very good!>> Hence, with the Semilarvatus being quite big I was counting them as the equivalent of 2 fish each (i.e. Semilarvatus = 4 equivalent fish = allocation of 80 gals). <<Mmm, a very subjective issue...but I would go with 120 gallons as a minimum for two of these fish>> But that still allows for 5 more b'flies! <<Mmm...>> From the "The Best Butterflyfishes From the Red Sea" article, I chose 4 other species I like (in order of preference): 1 no. Chaetodon paucifasciatus 2 no. Heniochus intermedius 1 no. Chaetodon auriga auriga My feeling is that this would be too many, and would not be very interesting color scheme (i.e. all yellow / black / white). <<Agreed on the "too many", but the "color scheme" would likely not be much issue once you saw them in the display>> Hence, my idea has evolved to part two of my question - could I keep a Maculosus angel, together with the pair of Semilarvatus, and a single Chaetodon paucifasciatus.  In Bob's book he recommends "at least 100 gallons of uncrowded habitat to themselves to fare well" for a Maculosus - so my logic is: 2 no. C. semilarvatus       =    40 to 80 gallon allocation 1 no. P. maculosus          =    100 gallon allocation 1 no. C. paucifasciatus     =     20 gallon allocation Total = 160 to 200 gallon allocation. The system is a 180, and will be aquascaped so as to best suit the inhabitants (pending your advice). Does this seem like a reasonable proposition? <<Bob should correct me if I misinterpret, but "100 gallons of uncrowded habitat" reads to me as 100 gallons of open free swimming space, unhampered with by live rock, etc..  To me that would seem to say a 180 is just about right after "careful" aquascaping...but sans any other large fish like the Semilarvatus butterflies>> The order of introduction (and size) would probably be: C. paucifasciatus probably a good 3", then the pair of semilarvatus at 3"-4" medium size, then finally the maculosus as a baby 2" specimen. <<Proper species selection aside, you'll do well to obtain all these species in the 3"-5" range...selecting your larger/smaller specimens within that range>> Do you think this is a reasonable proposition? <<I'm very hesitant about including the Maculosus angel with two Chaetodon semilarvatus in a 180...I would choose "one species or the other" as the prominent display fish, and build the display around/to suit that species>> Would the inclusion of dither fish be a good idea? i.e. half a dozen green Chromis. <<I think so, yes (the Blue-Green Chromis- Chromis viridis, to keep with the Red Sea theme)...will add some visual interest as well>> I wouldn't be pushed either way about the Chromis, but if would benefit the general well being of the system, I would include them. <<Won't hurt>> Sorry for writing such a long email - but I wanted to give all the relevant info. <<No worries mate...helps me to help you>> Thanks again for your help. Matt <<Is my pleasure, EricR>>
Was: Clown Trigger in a FOWLR? V, now RS Biotope, BFs - 07/04/06 Thanks so much for all your input Eric, it is very much appreciated. <<I am pleased to assist Matt>> So it would seem I have arrived at a crossroads in my decision process regarding the 180 Red Sea biotope.  Do I go for a Maculosus angel or pair of C. semilarvatus? <<Indeed>> Option A: If I opt for the pair of semilarvatus, then is it too much to keep a pair of Heniochus intermedius and a pair of C. paucifasciatus (or even a single specimen)? <<I think the pair of Heniochus and a single C. paucifasciatus with the two C. semilarvatus could work out.  A pair of C. paucifasciatus might even be okay...just not sure of their compatibility re conspecifics>> Option B: If I opt for the angel, then could I still get the other b'flies i.e. a pair of C. paucifasciatus and a pair of Heniochus intermedius or should I steer away from the butterflies altogether? <<The butterflies might be fine, at least at first, and would definitely need to be the first fishes in the tank.  As you are aware, the angel will definitely "be the boss" and "may" become a real problem when it gets large.>> If so, then I was thinking along the lines of a Lunare wrasse, Sohal tang, Raccoon b'fly, Purple tang etc.( not all of them together, obviously). <<Obviously <grin> >> Can you suggest tankmates along these lines? <<The Lunare wrasse and Purple tang might work out...I think the Sohal tang will get too big (and maybe to mean) for this tank with the Maculosus angel.  As for other suggestions...going with smaller fish species (less than 5") may ease selection/compatibility issues.  Perform a search by ecosystem on fishbase.org for possibilities>> In any case, I would like to be able to keep starfish & snails (clean up crew) as per previous mail to keep the tank clean, so I'd probably steer clear of triggers etc., unless you can recommend a Red Sea equivalent of your Blue Jaw trigger. <<Mmm...Odonus niger is found in that region but it gets BIG...to more than 20" in the wild...>> Thanks again for your input Eric - my ideas have evolved a long way from a pair of lions!!!! <<Ah yes...research, choices and decisions.  Am happy you're taking the "slow" road...the final outcome will surely be a positive reflection of your patience>> Regards, Matt <<Cheers mate, Eric Russell>>

Chaetodon mesoleucos...Suitable for Aquarium Use? - 06/10/06 I would like to add this butterfly (Chaetodon mesoleucos) to my fish only tank.  Do you recommend it based on hardiness and difficulty to keep alive.  I know butterflies are fragile, but this one is from the red sea and I heard those fish do better?  What can you tell me about this fish? <<It is described on our site as one of the "better" Red Sea species in general, and Chaetodon species in particular, for aquarium use...though it can be a "frequent bully" in Bob's words>> Thank you, Alan <<Regards, EricR>>

Blue cheeked Butterfly - 05/07/2006 Hi Bob, <Justin with you today> Kudos to you, Anthony C., and the crew at Wet Web.  Your dedication to education and generosity with your time are greatly appreciated. <Thank you, will pass that along to Bob> Researching the beautiful C. semilarvatus and wonder if you'd care to opine on the conflicting information about keeping them singly or in pairs. <Mmmm one of the beautiful butterfly fish, this fish seems to do well either way, though a male and female pair does do better than a single of either.  They DO NOT ship well, being very prone to hurting their mouths by rubbing them on bags.  Be VERY careful about buying one, as a mouth injury is usually fatal in the home aquaria, the fish just stop eating.  If you can find a pair that is eating, and have the space, they make a great addition, a good hardy single specimen as well, but do be very picky about buying one.> Many thanks. Peggy <Justin (Jager)>

H. acuminatus, sel. dis.    4/14/06 Hi Bob, <Joseph> I have a quick question on my 2 newly acquired H. acuminatus which I bought 2 weeks ago. I picked them up from my LFS as soon as they were delivered from a wholesaler. <Mmm, generally better to leave most all marines at a dealers a week or more... with deposit if you "must have them"...> They are about 3 inches in size and both looked healthy. They have been in quarantine since then and during that time I have noticed that one of them absolutely loves every food I give it: brine shrimp with Spirulina, sea veggies, flakes, tiny pieces of shrimp and squid, and Nori seaweed. This one has maintained a healthy weight. The other fish, however, will only eat the Nori seaweed and spits out everything else. I would like it to start eating some fleshy foods. I have noticed that this fish has slightly lost a bit of weight. Other than this both fish look healthy and very happy. My question is whether I should be concerned about this fish's eating habits ahead of it's release into the display tank next week? <Ummm, a tough one... w/o seeing the actual specimen. But I would very likely risk moving this/these "Heni's" in the hopes of furthering the ones appetite... and not worry re the small risk in disease transmission here> By the way, this is the first time I have used a quarantine tank and I now appreciate the benefits it gives to us in not only preventing disease, but allowing us to observe the new animals in a much more tightly controlled environment. <Ah, bingo!> It makes it so much easier to acclimate the fish to the water chemistry and especially to new foods, which would be a lot trickier in the display tank (i.e. size, competitors etc.). Thanks for the informative articles on this topic! Thanks in advance, Joe <Welcome Joe. Bob Fenner>

Re: Cyano Bacteria Stumper  4/09/06 Bob, <John> As always thank you for the response. <Welcome> And yes, the Chaetodon miliaris does deserve more attention because in my experience it has been a majestic peaceful fish causing no harm to my modest reef.  They are also beautiful and this one has been easy to care for. <Ah, yes> Thanks again Bob and to the whole WWM crew for their dedication to this great hobby. Regards John <Welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Trouble with Butterflyfish ... just knowledge, application  3/3/06 Hi, I got your website from a forum and they said you could help me. I have a 30 gallon aquarium and I want to put one fish in it. The only fish that I want to put in it is an Auriga Butterfly fish. <Mmm, not a good choice... in fact, I would not place any species of Chaetodontid here.> My last one died after only a day. I noticed ick on some of his fins so I medicated with Malachite green. <...> I guess he got stressed from the shipment. My temperature is exactly at 80 degrees. My salinity is at 1.024. My nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia are all under control. My tank is done cycling. I have an aerator and a power filter that does 280 gph. I got live reef sand when I first set it up and I have 30 lbs of live rock (Fiji). I use AmQuel and NovAqua. My cleaner shrimp and Atlantic turbo snails are doing great. I just don't know what is wrong. Should I get the natural sea water. It is some kind of saltwater that comes with all of the good bacteria, trace elements, perfect salinity, or so I have read. Or is the tank just too small. <Bingo> My Butterfly was 2 inches in length so I thought that It would be okay seeing as it was the only fish in the tank. I have raises show line Bettas before that were really delicate but nothing can compare to the delicate saltwater fish. Is there any way to keep a pretty butterfly fish without killing it? Thank you for any help ~~Chess <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bfsysfaqs.htm and onto the linked files above. Knowledge is power, become powerful. Bob Fenner>

Heniochus Butterfly...Worms In My Live Rock - 02/18/06 Good afternoon! <<Hello...evening here>> I read on your site that Heniochus Butterfly fish require 15 to 20 gallons (minimum) per copy.  Does this mean that I can add 2 to a 72 gallon tank? <<Possibly...depending on what else is in/going in to the tank.  There are about a dozen different species of Heniochus but the two most commonly available are H. acuminatus and H. diphreutes...I assume you refer to one of these? >> Also, I purchased some live rock from a dealer on the internet, the owner said that he was sending fully cured rock but there were worms in it (or at least they resembled worms). <<Very normal, desirable even.>> I managed to pull most of them out except one. <<Why?>> I put the live rock in the tank.  The rock has been in there approx. 2 weeks.  Do you think I should look for the rock and try to get the worm out again? <<Nope>> I am a little afraid that this will affect my tank in the long run. <<Doubtful...wouldn't worry about it.  Regards EricR>>

Butterflyfish sel.    2/17/06 I emailed you guys the other day and I made a mistake. I what I really meant to say was that I am interested in Butterflyfish and not a Angel. I was looking at a Aureofasciatus Butterfly. <I recall...> I was worried because I have a bubble tip anemone, leather coral, cup coral, button polyps , and mushroom coral. I have peaceful fish that will eat out of my hand they are a Achilles tang, Eibl's angel, lawnmower blenny, scarlet lady shrimp, and cleaner shrimp. The tank is a 125gal that is about 1 1/2 old. It has a good amount of different Algae's and live substrate (Ex hair algae and some  red algae) I have a 3 bulb VHO with a 660 ballast. I believe it is 420 watts. I have had trouble with it recently. A wire broke off and burned the ballast and a end cap. <Yikes> One of my neighbors is a electrician and he fixed it had to buy a new ballast which was $150.00 from Marinedepot.com. The lights flicker every once and a while, just waiting for the end cap to come in. Just like to know if the Butterfly may be okay in the tank I think probably no but I was looking for other opinions , <? I would not add this fish here> and if you could tell me what coral it may bother. So I can take the coral out I would rather have the fish than A piece of coral. <Look to hardier species is my advice... chaetodonts that are more decidedly zooplanktivorous. Posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Reef butterfly (Chaetodon sedentarius) for Aiptasia control, use period   2/14/06 Hello.  I unfortunately imported some Aiptasia into my system and it is spreading.  Grrrr! <Happens> I have had two sad experiences with Copperband butterflies.  They ate the Aiptasia but still starved to death, as neither would take any of the varied foods I offered. I hate to try one again. I was in a very good LFS here that has a great reputation.  One of the staff there who has not led me astray in the past recommended the Caribbean Reef Butterfly (sedentarius) as a voracious consumer of Aiptasia (he showed me this in the store, putting a rock covered in it in the holding tank with several of these fish in there. <Do eat them> Also claimed they leave corals alone if fed even reasonably well, <Variable... by individual... and changeable...> that they readily take frozen and even flake foods, that they get along with other fish and are among the heartiest of the butterflies. <I don't agree with this. Unfortunately it has been... Let me start again: It has been my unfortunate experience that all species of TWA, tropical West Atlantic chaetodonts do poorly in "hobbyist settings"> The only thing he didn't say was that the fish would also increase my salary by 40%. <Heeeee!> How reliable is this information?  For some reason I'm hesitant and can find next to nothing in Google on this fish. Thanks. Joel <See the works of Allen and Steene as well here... sedentarius does not historically do well in captivity. There are other means of Glass Anemone control... Please see WWM re... that I would utilize before this B/F. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reef butterfly (Chaetodon sedentarius)  - 2/15/2006
Thanks.  Is as I expected.  I've had no luck with the Caribbean Tangs either. <Ahh, thank you for this (unfortunate) data point. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
TWA Chaetodont sel.  - 02/16/2006
In case you want specifics, I've tried 4 Atlantic Blue Tangs.  I would never ever do this again.  But it was the one fish that I most wanted when I got into the hobby.  But now I will leave them alone.  Tried them young and yellow, old and blue, transitioning.   <I see> The weird thing is that they were fine for months in each case.  Two as long as 6-7 months, one 4 months, one 3 months.  All ate and swam just fine.  Fat, healthy.  In each case, one morning the fish would appear sluggish after having been fine the night before.  Then splotches by noon, dead by evening.   <My experiences parallel yours... I put the whole lot in a "just don't do well in captive conditions" category> Sad, but as I said, I am now leaving them alone. Strange thing is almost every store, online and LFS, reports them to be very strong fish, easy to keep, while only a couple report them to be delicate and difficult. <"And so it goes"> Oh well.  Thanks. <Thank you for relating your experience. You have saved many animals thereby, and hobbyists, trouble. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly Tank?   1/27/06 Hello,    <Howdy>   I have been doing some reading on your site regarding a tank dedicated to butterflies. I love the butterflies, but they also would love my corals in my display tank. <Mmm, not all> This has led me to set up an empty 150 gallon tank and try a butterfly tank. I am aware of the good butterfly choices, as well as the bad and have had some success with the rather finicky Chelmon rostratus. I would provide that butterflies with as much live rock as possible without taking up all their swimming space, how much would you suggest? <A hundred to two hundred pounds...>   Here is my list that I have taken a liking to (would like a pair in pairs if possible)      Chaetodon semilarvatus (how much room do you need for these?) <About the whole tank>   Chaetodon auriga   Chaetodon xanthurus   Chaetodon melannotus   Chelmon rostratus (I know difficult, but I have had one for a while and he's thriving)     I know I will not be able to keep a pair of each of these, but I thought you could offer some insight as to if I can keep a pair, and if so which ones. The Goldens are my absolute favorite of the group, and my top pick.    <Mine too>   Also regarding butterfly pairs, I have never seen any sold as pairs, will these fish often pair up with a random tankmate of the same species?? <Often, yes> Would it be a advisable to add them in any certain order, or all at once?? <In this case... couples at a time... with a few weeks, months between>   Thanks for your time, what you do on this site is great, it keeps hobbyist informed, and most of all it helps many people keep their fish in good health. Not to mention stay away from those beautiful butterflies that will die in a week! (the bf section is my favorite of the articles)      Sincerely, Matt Headington <Know what you mean. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly's And A Reef   1/14/06 Hail Wizards of The Wet Wonder World, I come seeking council on the wisdom of adding a butterfly to a mixed reef system. My little slice of the ocean is 110 gallons and a mix of mostly LPS, softies and a handful of SPS.<Yummy> I am considering one of the following butterflies for purchase. Yellow Long Nose, Raccoon or Copperband. I have read as much as I could find and know it's a crap shoot, as there are both success and horror stories to envy War and Peace for word count. <Although butterflies are not recommended in reef tanks, if I was to risk it I would go with the long nose.  Copperbands would be an equal but much more difficult to keep.> Fully understanding this gamble, my question is to you what of my sessile invertebrates are most at risk.<Most> In a dream world the button polyps, zoos, star polyps and tube worms, that grow like weeds in my system would be first target,<Agree, I think the worms would go first.  Keep in mind that each butterfly (same specie) will have a different personality so to speak, and one may not bother anything where as another may be going to a smorgasbord.> but your opinion would go a long way to aid my final decision. Though fish can not be removed, any picked on corals can, and I can easily arrange new and healthy homes for them. To sum up, I'm just trying to envision which coral type will be the focus of further reef development with a butterfly on board. SPS, LPS, or Softies?? <In my opinion, no specific coral will be guaranteed safe.  I wouldn't recommend anything as down the road you may say, "that @$#%&*!@ Salty Dog said so and so and so and so and my reef looks like a crown of thorns went through it."  It's your gamble my friend.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks a bunch <You're welcome> KRH

If Anyone Could do it... Adding a Large Butterfly to Established System - 11/18/05 Hi Crew, <<Hello.>> I have a simple question that is somewhat answered in your FAQ's but I wanted some reassurance. <<Alright. There, there now, it'll be alright.. or maybe it won't. I guess that's not very reassuring, is it? Sorry.. let's read on.>> I have a 250 FOWLR that currently houses 5 fish, one of which is a Longnose butterfly (approx. 5") in size and very happy/healthy. I noticed a "show size" (8") Saddleback butterfly available from a very reputable source (endorsed here on WWM) that I am very interested in. I have had very good luck with purchases from this source/company, however I have several concerns.  <<Indeed.>> First: would these two BF's get along?  <<"Get along"...? Well, it really depends. However, you have a few factors in your favor for success.>> (What I have read is maybe yes, maybe no but thought I would test any personal experience here). <<I have not done this, so you're not exactly getting my personal experience. Mine mostly lies in trade experience more than home aquaria, but I think I can offer you some insight. I think that if anyone could do this, someone with a decently sized system such as yours could. I also think that the Longnose (I don't think it matters which species Longnose), having been well-established (an assumption on my part), will have a better leg up on the Saddleback in terms of territory. However, let's say the Longnose doesn't - I believe you have a large enough system to allow for a few rows between them with relatively little harm done.>> Second question: would this size specimen be easier to acclimate to captivity or less likely?  <<Much less likely considering size/age. The problem here is feeding, really. There are tricks, such as using live bloodworms to induce feeding behavior (really drives some butterflies NUTS!), but none are guaranteed.>> I have read some species where obtaining a larger variety is preferred, while other species the larger are harder to acclimate. <<In general, I prefer to go with sub-adult fishes, obviously this is not always practicable. Biggest question: Is this fish currently feeding? If they've had the animal any length of time (if they've imported directly they should be holding it for at least two weeks, to observe, feed, let it rest from collection and shipping stressors), then they should only be offering animals that are feeding and appear well-adjusted and healthy. If they haven't had it long, then I would be more cautious.  Another issue with dominance is size disparity - if there is enough of a difference, aggression is often greatly reduced as there may be no perceived threat of sexual competition, resources, territory, etc. This may also work in your favor.>> Any words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Best! Steven <<Timing is everything, and everything is relative. Those are my words of wisdom. Oh yes, a favorite is also "Youth and Enthusiasm are No Match for Age and Treachery". <add a wicked grin here> Steven, you know that it's going to ultimately be a crap shoot. If you're skilled with a net and bucket, then not so much crap as shoot in this situation. I might be inclined to try it, assuming no other problems with the intended addition. I hope this helps. Marina>> 

Impulse Buying - 11/14/2005 I have been a little hasty and just purchased a Copperband butterfly, the tank is 23 gallons and currently serves a damsel, puffer, and clown. <Poor choice. As always, please research all purchases.> The butterfly is not yet eating, although he is picking off the live rock. Should I wait to see what happens or is the tank just to small? <Tank is too small (overstocked). And the puffer? - Josh> 

Butterflyfishes in groups  9/19.5/05 Hello Bob (perhaps): <Yes> It may be that this question is best answered by Bob Fenner because he has written many of your articles on Butterflyfishes. By the way,   we share, besides marine aquaria, a love for the Big Island. I am an astronomer and I have spent two sabbatical years there, in addition   to countless observing trips to Mauna Kea. <Ahh, Brrrrrr. Hopefully mainly remoted in Kamuela... warmer!> I am looking for advice on the species of Butterflyfishes which can be kept in small groups (3 to 4) when young. I have just set up a 120   gallon system with sump, refugium, etc. My hope is to make a small group of Butterflyfishes the centerpiece of this tank. I have kept   single Butterflyfish successfully (threadfin, Forcipiger, raccoon) in the past, but never more than one of the same species. My goal is to   find a species that does not grow too large, that I like, and that will live with conspecifics. I would seek individuals of the same   size and would introduce them together. If you could rank the following species on this attribute (the ability to live in groups in   the aquarium situation) I would be very grateful: <My all time fave here is the Pakistani, Oh, I see you list it below> Chaetodon melannotus (Blackback) Chaetodon collare (Pakistani) Chaetodon mertensii Chaetodon paucifasciatus Chelmon muelleri Chaetodon punctatofasciatus Cheers, George <If you can secure some (relatively) initially hardy Collares, you will not be disappointed... the most consistent group "schooling" butterfly species... sort of like aggregating Lunulas down at Two-Step, at times off of Puako... toward the evening... thought to assemble to appear less like potential prey. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Butterflyfishes in groups  9/19.5/05
Thank you very much. I will look for Pakistani's when the time comes. -George <A gorgeous, peaceful species, that really looks great in a grouping... in the wild as well as in large-enough captive settings> ps: Would Two-Step be that great place next to Puuhonua O Honauana,   <Oh yes> just down from Captain Cook? I have seen large groups of lunula there, just drifting. <Ah, yes... beautiful. Bob Fenner>

Banner Fish Not "banner" Reef Citizen  Hi gang, We have a 55 gal. w/80 lbs live rock. Currently there are 3 Perc. clowns, a blue damsel, a lemon peel angel, hi-fin goby & pistol shrimp, a blood shrimp and sea star. We would like to add a pair of Long Fin Banner fish. There are mixed reviews on required gallons for these fish and we want to make sure that 1. we won't have too many fish, and 2. they won't become to large for our tank. Any suggestions???  <The Heniochus can attain a length of up to 10" in it's hometown. Most are sold from 2 1/2 to 3". A 50 would be all right for a while but as they grow they will need larger quarters. I might point out to you that if you have nice rock with fan worms, other nice stuff, then this fish isn't for you. They will pick at rocks looking for goodies and are not considered reef safe. James (Salty Dog)> 

"Reef Safe Butterflyfish" Hello, <Howdy> My Name is Matt Headington, I would like to first commend you on the wonderful website. My question pertains to "Reef Safe" Butterflyfish. I know most of these are coral eaters, and I'm sure there are times it just depends on the individual fish. <To some extent, yes... though by genera, species, there are ones that are far more likely to be "obligate" corallivores, and at the other end of a/the spectrum free-roaming zooplanktivores> I wanted to know If the Pyramid Butterfly (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) or the Caribbean Reef Butterfly (Chaetodon sedentarius) would be suitable. <The former I'll give a "9" out of ten in terms of likeliness to be "reef safe", the latter a "5"> Currently I have a 75 gallon reef tank with mostly SPS, but has mushrooms, and zoos as well. Would either of these fish make a good candidate? <The Hemitaurichthys... though there are some good Chaetodons as well (lunula, auriga...) that score "high".> I am not planning on purchasing either of these fish until I upgrade to my 150 gallon which is sitting empty. Which of these fish is more suitable for captivity? <Both get about the same score here... middling> Also I have heard that the Hawaiian Pyramid fares better than the Indo-pacific, any truth to that? <Yes... mostly (IMO) re the issues of handling, more distal shipping> Also is there any variance in the coloration between the Hawaiian and the Indo-Pacific? <Good question... have just looked at my pix of the species... and don't discern any difference... though there definitely are such general variances in other Butterflyfish species> Thank you for any information that you have to offer.  Take Care, Matt Headington <Bob Fenner>

Should I? Shouldn't I? Copperband in Shop >Hi, Just a quick question about a Copperband at my LFS. >>Hello, yes, let's hear it. >He has been there a week and is eating brine shrimp, I've watched him forage around in the substrate looking for more food. >>Is brine the only thing they can get him to eat, or all they're offering? Are we talking live or frozen here? I'd like to know that he's ready to try *anything* when it comes to food. >He's about 4-4.5 inches and very nice color, good clear eyes and very responsive. >>Sounds like an animal to consider. >Is it safe to say that this was a well collected specimen? >>Possibly, but without knowing where he was collected, and better yet, by whom, no one but s/he who collected it can say. Shipping stress, it appears, is not a problem for this one. Handling and husbandry both in transit and while in holding facilities is just as important as methods used for collection, in my honest opinion. >I've have him on hold right now. Would it be better to get him and bring him home to my 135 gallon reef or wait awhile longer at the LFS. >>Neither - my preferred third option is to get him home into my OWN quarantine system. He's exposed to too much in shop, and there's little control over that. No shop owner, unless quarantining in their own facilities on site, can have any guarantee that they haven't introduced something (the most likely "something" being C. irritans - Ich) into their own system(s). There are those who treat with copper prophylactically, but that can be stressful as well. I'd put him into my own, hyposaline, quarantine. Search our site (via our Google bar) on quarantine procedures.  >I probably think it would be better to get him here so I could get him better nutrition. What is your opinion? Thanks A lot. Tristan >>I agree wholeheartedly, but conditionally. First, IF you see him readily accept other, non-live foods. Second, if he's already clear-skinned/scaled and fat (sounds like that's not a problem), and third (AND ONLY), if you do not introduce him immediately into the reef. Marina

Selecting a Butterflyfish for my (too small) tank 1/18/05 Hi, <Howdy> First off, it was great to go to Bob's recent lecture in Palo Alto (Algae is your friend) and meet some of the WWM crew (Bob, Paul, and a dash of Sabrina). <Oh yes> What would be a reasonable Butterflyfish to keep in a 36 gallon tank? <Mmm, actually none... all get too big for this small a system> Current inhabitants include an Amphiprion ocellaris, and a pair of Lysmata amboinensis, I like the Forcipiger flavissimus but just want to see what other options I might have. <The Longnose butterflies are great for aquariums... but need more room>   (I like the Heniochus diphreutes, but am concerned that I may not have a big enough tank for it). <Bingo> Would your recommendation get along well with a Gramma loreto? tank basics = 3 months old, 1 - 1.5" of aragonite, 20 lbs live and 20 lbs of base rock, bac Pak II skimmer, Magnum 250 HOT, 1 maxi jet 1200 power jet.  I would add the butterfly in 3 months, since I've read here that they like the tanks to be 6+ months old. Great site guys, keep up the good work. David <Keep looking David... for smaller selections that are compatible. Bob Fenner>

Butterflyfish hardiness, care opinions Hey guys, Jason here, I was wondering what your opinions on Chaetodon tinkeri, Chaetodon collare, and Chaetodon melannotus are?  Do they do well in captivity/hardy?  Are any of these rare and hard to find?  Reason why I'm asking is because on wetwebmedia.com the info on each one of these fish claims that they're hardy and are under the "good" butterfly section.  But, there are a few things in the summary next to these fish that throws me off.  For example:  "hardy where caught and acclimated properly to captive conditions."  Are the chances that this fish will survive pretty high?  Should I invest my money into these three?  I guess I just get a little turned off even by only one negative comment.  I want to only invest my money in fish that will more than likely survive and live long life in my aquarium, otherwise I stay away.  I want to start stocking my tank, love to hear back from you soon!<When hardy is mentioned, it is related to butterflies, not all marine fish in general.  First off, chances of keeping them for more than six months is slim under average care.  They do require a large tank, minimum of 70 gallons.  Most refuse to eat.  If you are considering purchasing any of these I strongly recommend that you ask your dealer to feed them.  If he refuses, then forget the purchase.  Pristine water quality is also a must.  Just doing a general search with your favorite search engine will yield tons of info on butterflies.>  James (Salty Dog) Thanks a lot guys, Jason
Butterfly Selection
<Hi Jason> Thanks for the response.  Will I have better luck with Chaetodon semilarvatus, Chaetodon ephippium, Forcipiger flavissimus, or Heniochus diphreutes?  Is there a better chance I can get these to live a while or more than six months, or are the chances still slim to get them living for more than six months under average care?  Are these hardier than the ones I mentioned previously? <The Heniochus are quite hardy given proper diet and good tank maintenance.  Some people have luck with the Forcipigers and some not.  If you have tube worms, Christmas tree rock, etc., they will soon be gone.  The Longnoses I've had before really never bothered the coral too much, at least not enough to kill it.  The Heniochus would be a little easier than the Longnose, and both would be easier than the other ones you mentioned.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again, Jason

Butterflyfish How are you, my name is Mike< I don't get it.  Your name is Mike and you signed off as Jason>and I have a few questions?  Will I have good luck with Chaetodon semilarvatus, Chaetodon ephippium, Forcipiger flavissimus, or Heniochus diphreutes?  Is there a good chance I can get these to live a while or more than six months, or are the chances still slim to get them living for more than six months under average care?  Are these among the most hardy of the Butterflyfishes? <Jason or Mike.  I believe I've just answered this query of yours very recently.  James (Salty Dog) Thanks again, Jason

Butterfly Friends? Hello, I am starting a 60 gal fish only with live sand and rock. I'm busy making my fish list...I usually make like 5 until I get the perfect fish to get along( I have 2 tanks, one reef for about 8 months now). Well I'm stuck between which butterflies to choose, I know butterflies don't always get along so that's why I am asking these few questions. I want a Bannerfish, Auriga,  and a Pakistani. Is their anyway these three will get along, I really want all three? <These are good choices, generally quite compatible, but your sixty gallon system is too small... better to just choose one of these Butterflyfishes> If not what selection will work well, I truly want more that one species, and I'm stuck with my list between these butterflies. Thank you Chris <If two individuals, I would pick either two Heniochus (diphreutes or acuminatus) or two Pakistanis.... not two Aurigas, and not dissimilar species. Bob Fenner>

Pakistani Butterfly Hello again!! How are you today? You guys are AWESOME!! <Chase you are very kind thank you! MacL here tonight with you> Thank you for replying to my lionfish question. I will just go ahead and probably purchase a fuzzy dwarf for the 40 gallon. I have heard different opinions on this but I wanted to get the experts advice;) I was wondering if I could have a Pakistan butterfly in my 60 gallon. <Collared butterflies aka Pakistanis are interesting, of the butterflies they are generally ranked as one of the best to get. They generally do better in pairs for what its worth.> Some say that this fish is just trouble, while others say it will work if it is started small. What do you think? <In my opinion all butterflies are fragile, that being said I love them!!! Seriously, if your tank is stable then some of the heartier ones should be fine. The Pakistani is considered one of the most hearty. Also, be prepared to provide them with a varied diet. Oh! and yesterday at my LFS they had 3 cherub angels housed together in a 5 gallon tank! I thought they weren't supposed to get along? <They are generally very aggressive and will pick on each other. My guess is that in that tiny a tank they have achieved a very delicate balance.  I wouldn't think it would last long.> They also had a bicolor angel with a coral beauty and a flame! strange huh?  <Most of the time there will be territorial battles between the dwarf angels.> one more question, are bristleworms bad for your tank? <I like them, they eat the detritus so in my opinion bristleworms are wonderful.  Take a look at this for a close discussion of the bristleworms http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm> sorry about all the questions. thank you for your time.                Chase in Las Vegas

Using WWM Does the Pakistani butterfly (Chaetodon collare) easy to keep and do well in captivity? <Please go to the homepage of WWM: www.WetWebMedia.com and insert this animals name in the Google search tool there, and read where it sends you. Bob Fenner>

Semi-Aggressive Butterfly? Dear Crew, <Robert> I am interested in one last fish in my 2 year old, 180g FO tank.  Here's what I have in it currently, a 3 1/2 - 4" Blue Faced Angel, a 3" lunar wrasse, a 3" white-striped maroon clown, a 5-6" dog-faced puffer, a medium purple tang, a 3-4" Picasso trigger, a 3 1/2" blood red hawk, a comet eel and a snowflake eel. <Mmm, this is already quite a bioload> I'm pretty sure I read that there are semi-aggressive BF's but I'm getting mixed information. <As marine fishes go there are some semi-aggressive Butterflyfish species>   Marine Center has a Saddleback Butterfly (Chaetodon ephippium) that I thought would be a good fit but was told by them that they are shy and should not be housed with bold fish. Anytime a company steers me away from spending money with them, I listen. Is there a BF that would fit with this mix or am I out of luck?  If not, is it a compatibility issue or do I need to add something to the tank specifically to support a BF? Bob <A Lunula/Raccoon might go... or even a Longnose (either species of Forcipiger) perhaps oddly enough... there are some other choices, but I would stick with what you have currently fish-wise, as some of your present stock will get quite bigger in time. Bob Fenner>

Aiptasia and Butterflyfish Hi Folks, I have a massive Aiptasia problem in my 300-gallon tank.  There are too many (and they are too deep in the tank) to inject them all.  I read all of your FAQs, and I've unsuccessfully tried the peppermint shrimp route.  So, I've come to the point where I want to use Butterflyfish to eat them.   << That is what I would try next. >> I have a lot of polyps, and I would prefer to keep them!  I am looking at the Copperband, Longnose, and Raccoons. << Go with the Copperband. >>  Would I be safe in saying the Raccoon is the "most likely" to eat polyps and should be the one to avoid?  << Tough to say, but I'll agree, yes Raccoon is last choice. >> As for quarantine, do you think a Copperband and a Longnose would get along in a small QT tank? << I do.  I think they are quite compatible. >> Many thanks for your thoughts, Dale M. <<  Blundell  >>

Some golden butterflies with your tank? After a long and tedious task of trying to determine if we wanted a aggressive tank or a reef tank we came up with the idea of a butterfly tank. The tank is 135 gallon, the butterflies we were hoping to keep were either 2-3 Chaetodon semilarvatus or 2-3 Chaetodon paucifasciatus or   2-3 Chaetodon collare out of all these what is the best suited to our tank? Should we go with 2 or 3 of the selected butterfly? We really like the golden but it says it gets to 9 inches, that's pretty big. Thank you for all your time Sharon <If you choose the Goldens, I would stick to just this pair of butterflies for this system, maybe with some other smaller fish species. Bob Fenner>
Re: 135 gallon butterfly tank
Here's is our finalized stocking list <Hi Sharon, MacL here with you tonight> 135 gallon tank 2 golden butterflies 1 golden hamlet 1 coral beauty 1 Scopas tang Is this over stocking or can we have a couple more fish? If so what can you recommend? another butterfly or tang? or maybe a small group of fairy wrasses? <I like the idea of the fairy wrasses or perhaps some Anthias> Thanks a bunch

Chaetodon decussatus Bob, I recently ran across your article regarding the best and the worst Butterflyfishes. I was specifically researching Chaetodon decussatus. I was happy to see that you have listed it as one of the best but I was quickly confused when I noticed that you also have it listed as on of the worst. So I guess my question to you is, which is it? I was also wondering what  would be a good food for them in captivity. If you know I would appreciate any input. Thanks, Kris <I don't see it listed as a "worst" choice... perhaps the similar Vagabond Butterfly is being confused here. C. decussatus is one of the better choices. Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon decussatus II Bob, Right after I sent the last e-mail to you I went back and checked the ID of the "look-a-likes." I guess that I should have read more carefully first before I sent the e-mail. It is uncanny how similar the Chaetodon decussatus and the Chaetodon vagabundus look. The only real difference that I was able to see were the dorsal fin spines of the vagabond B/F. Is this true because I would like to ID my fish. Anyway, I apologize, but I would still appreciate any info regarding feeding Chaetodon decussatus. Thanks/sorry, Kris <Ahh, yes. No worries. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly pairs?< Hi, Mike D here>     Hello, A while back I was told by in of the crew members that I might be able to get away with one Golden Butterflyfish in my 75 with my other stock.  Here is the stocking list. Fish. 1- Moorish Idol 3 inches. (yes it eats) 2- Kole Tang 3 inches. 1- Six Line Wrasse 2 inches 1- Gold Headed Sleeper Goby 3 inches Inverts. Assorted mix of snail and cucumbers etc. Rock / Sand. Right now I only have 20 pounds of rock but I plan to get 20 more because in this somewhat small tank I just want to create a side of the reef image (so far with the little rock it looks good).  The edge of the reef design also gives my fishes more space to swim.  I have about 80 pounds of live sand in my tank. Equipment. Protein Skimmer UV Sterilizer Penguin Filter Aquafuge Refugium Now my question is, when I went to my LFS I was going to purchase 1 Golden BF.  But they insisted that I buy 2 of them.  I told them that I had a 75 gallon tank and they said that the size would be ok.  The BF they have are only 2 inches. Is this true and will I be actually able to keep these 2 fish?  I wanted to make sure before I bought these expensive $$$$$$$ fish! Scott MCkeown 

Butterfly Selection Hello again, <Hi, Ryan Bowen with you> my husband and I have put to use most if not all of the info this crew has given us and things are coming along beautifully, thanks again. <Sure! Great to hear of your success.> We recently purchased a 100g. acrylic tank with an over flow box. So far it has been stocked with 20 to 30 lbs of LR from our well established 50g. that recently cracked down the back. It was a very old tank. <I see!> The water in the 50 had just gone through a water change so we placed all of the water in to the new 100 as well as 50 gallons from our established 125 gal. In the overflow box we placed most of the bio balls that we had removed from our 125g.that same day. We finally replaced it with LR rubble.  We will soon replace the same bio balls in the 100g with LR rubble as well. As of right now it has no SB but soon will have 2 - 3 " taken from our 55g. sump/fuge, again well established. Since everything in the tank came from established systems ( 1 year plus ) would that cut down the cycling time? <Oh yes.  Considerably.  Wait until nitrates are zero, and then stock.> or should we still wait and treat it as if everything was brand new? It is already filled with pods, 1 Cerith snail, two larger snails I need to ID, and 4 fire shrimp from the old 50 gal. It was a middle of the night tank swap. Since our 125 is a reef with fish we wanted a nice FO display. <Nice to break it up a bit.> It will soon have a sump/fuge as well. So far the fish we like have been narrowed down to these few: Longnose BF, Raccoon or Red Sea Raccoon BF, Threadfin BF, Flame Angel, Fire Fish or Pearly Jawfish, Neon Goby and of course our Fire Shrimp refugees. We have read conflicting info on whether or not these fish can or should be kept in pairs or not, except for the flame angel and fire fish, "There can be only one". The same goes for whether or not the BF's listed above should  be in the same tank together. <In a one hundred gallon tank, you can certainly have a pair of Firefish.  The flame angel is best alone, as he'll bicker with anything similar.  The butterflies are the toughest choices!  I'm a big fan of the Long Nosed Butterfly, and they're peaceful enough to live in harmony with each other.  Jawfish are best left to tanks with deeper substrate.  Threadfin Butterfly is a great choice, I'd recommend it second only to the Longnose.  Good luck, Ryan>  Any help is always appreciated, thanks Shauna.

Butterfly Selection Thanks for the info, now I have a few more Q's for the crew. I have done an exhaustive search on each of these fish/shrimp, I just wanted to see if I got this section right. Here goes, time line of fish introduction: Fire fish should be one of the first and if kept in a pair, introduce at same time. Pearly/yellow head jaw fish, same as fire fish. Long nose BF, again, should be one of the first inhabitance. Should I introduce them in that order (fire fish, jaw fish, long nose)? I have read that BF's should be bought between 3-5" in size and if they are to be kept in the same tank together there should be at least a 1" size difference and should be introduced from smallest to largest. With that in mind, and with the long nose BF needing to be one of the first inhabitance, I should add the long nose at 3" wait a while then add the threadfin at 4" and the raccoon being more aggressive than the previous two should be added last at 5",or since it is more aggressive should he be introduced at a smaller size and the other two at 3 and 4 inches? This can get confusing. << I'm getting confused just reading all this. But I think your plan is good, and certainly well thought.>>  I didn't see a particular time in which I should add the neon goby, any preferences? << I would ad him towards to end.  Most neon gobies are cleaner fish, so they need fish to clean.  Now if you can get a tank raised neon, then do so and add him whenever. >> Last, but not least, being the most aggressive out of all previous inmates, I mean tank mates, the sweet little flame angel. Is there a particular size I should buy this little guy at to make for better survivability and tank cohesiveness? << I would just look for a nicely colored, eating well, flame which has been in a store for at least two weeks. That is more important than his size. >> Oh! I almost forgot my fire shrimp refugees, there are three of them so I guess they are the first since they are already in their. Am I on the right track or have I been derailed? My next set of questions deals with something you guys never dealt with :) and that is how many of each should I have in my 100 g. mentioned above? Of course, that's I haven't already exceeded acceptable and every fish is happy limit. I read the article on this and 5 gal. per cubic inch of fish was mentioned. Well, I'm not sure how wide some of these critters get or how tall but I know about how long, but with out the previous two I can't do the equation, help! What I came up with was 2 fire fish, 2-3 pearly jaw fish,1 long nose bf, 1 threadfin bf, 1 raccoon bf, 1 flame angel, << I'd say that is good.  A lot of live rock will really help with these fish as well. >> how many gobies should be in this tank to keep inhabitance pest free? << I don't know what you mean by pest free.  There are always pests, but one or two neon gobies are a great addition. >> It seems like my list is a little much, is it? What would you recommend? I also tried to keep in mind which water column each fish usually inhabits to keep them from getting in each others hair too much, I don't think I achieved this. Will this be enough of a problem to warrant some changes? Thanks for the help, Shauna. << Looks good to me.  Best of luck. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Marine Butterflyfish selection input Hi Folks, <Hello Matt> Just browsing your awesome sight and I am interested in adding a few fish to my 240 FOWLR. What do you think of Chaetodon collare?  Is this a hardy addition?  Can you add in pairs? <As far as the family goes, quite hardy... best kept in pairs to small groups if the system is large enough. Yours is> What do you think of a Heniochus Butterfly?  Is this a hardy addition?  Would you add in a pair?  Will it most likely get along with the Collare? <The genus is also quite tough for butterflies. Most are best kept in pairs as well, and all do well with the Collare. My further input here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/heniochu.htm> Your help would be greatly appreciated. Matt <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Double Saddle B/F- "No new tanks!" I just came upon a second question.  I have never purchased any Butterflies before.  As per the quote below, taken from the Double Saddle Introduction/Acclimation section, should Butterflies in general be only dipped, then taken directly to the main tank, skipping the quarantine tank? "No new tanks! As a general rule this is so with all members of the family. They do not do well in unseasoned systems." <Mmm, only some species, or individuals that are in apparent "bad shape"... It is best to quarantine almost all specimens of aquarium-suitable Butterflyfishes. Bob Fenner> Thank you again for your time, Daniel Brodie
Dipping question...
I am really impressed with your reports on the Butterfly fish! My question is, what is the proper way of dipping a new fish?  Any info you can share with me on this very important process would be appreciated. Thank you very much for your time, Daniel Brodie <Ahh, then you'll really be please with the articles archived on WWM re dips/dipping. Bob Fenner>

Butterflies Hello,<Howdy!> As you probably know my tank is 75 gallons 8 months old and been quite happy. <It is very important you give us this info because there are about 20 of us answering questions.> Right now I have a purple tang, 2 Percs, and 1 six line wrasse.  I want to know if I can add 2 more fish and those are the golden Butterflyfish. <You could add two more fish but I would skip these guys, they get large and require room to swim.  You could try a raccoon which is equally good looking and stays a bit smaller.  Cody> Thanks in advance. Scott

The Impulse Buy - Saddleback Butterfly I'm pretty new at this marine aquarium thing, having only dealt with fresh water aquariums for 30 plus years. >>Acquiring knowledge is, in my opinion, the most difficult aspect of keeping marine. >Been taking it slow, usually researching as I go, but recently couldn't resist buying on impulse a saddleback butterfly. >>Ouch.. my friend, these fish are so easily found... >Water quality is all good, and all other inhabitants are doing well. Just wondering if I made a mistake adding the butterfly. >>WithOUT quarantine?  In my very honest opinion, YES.  Everything, especially vertebrate life, must be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days.  Also, this animal will need swimming space, 4' isn't exactly the kind of space a fish that hits about 6" in length.  See these links to decide what animal you actually have - http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=ulietensis http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=falcula http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=ephippium (the pic in this last link doesn't work, so see the following) http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.cfm?ID=5562 >>As you will see perusing these, there is a rather LARGE disparity in ultimate sizes of these animals, some hitting 6", others 12"!  (all measurements are given in metric units on this site.  So, range of 15cm-30cm) >It's a community tank, no live coral or live rock. >>No live rock leaves any butterfly at a decided disadvantage, actually, many marines, as there is GREAT benefit to having at least some live rock.  Do consider replacing some decorations with good quality live rock if you can. >The other inhabitants are a diamond goby, a small clown, 2 blue damsels and a blue velvet damsel, a green Chromis with one small hermit crab. Tank size is 55 gallon. >>Decidedly small for the butterfly itself, and definitely getting crowded, especially once ultimate adult sizes for these animals are calculated.  The clown species is important here, too. >The butterfly is about 3 inches and is the largest fish in the tank at this point.  Am I overcrowding at this point? >>You are very, very close right now.  Do be prepared with water changes, and consider either quickly upscaling the tank to something more like a 75 gallon, or consider returning the butterfly and waiting to get it till you have more suitable housing and a bit more experience with marines under your belt.  Not that these fish cannot be hardy, but for beginners they can be touchy. >Also, I keep reading about how butterflies are so delicate and hard to feed. What do you think? >>There are many variables at work here, not the least of which are the husbandry practices of the owner and the actual species we're talking about.  There are many marine fish, including butterfly species, that are obligate feeders.  If it's a species that requires, say, a particular sponge or group of corals, then we've got a problem, yes?  Please research and reconsider this purchase.  Marina

- Chaetodon quadrimaculatus - My girlfriend went fish shopping and brought this guy home!! After reading I see it lives on corals mainly!! <True.> Now going on over a month now and seems to be doing wonderful!! It loves to eat Sweetwater zooplankton and a little Mysis shrimp but I think it loves the live raw clam!! <Well... super-excellent that it eats this stuff.> I put in the shells with a little meat still attached and he picks on it all hours of the day and night, along with the pods in the AM when lights come on and their running for cover!!! Was told so far I've got real lucky :-) and one LFS said come see me in a few weeks due to him saying it will die!!  So my question is should try feeding anything else or are people over reacting??? <No... these fish traditionally do very poorly in captivity so that LFS was just reacting based on their [common] experience. Every so often someone gets lucky and you may be that person. You may want to play a lottery ticket.> Was going to take him back to the LFS but was told by other reefers that it prob better in my hands then someone else!! <If it really is eating and interacting well I'd keep it.> And at $55 I want to do the best I can?? <Sounds like you're off to a good start.> Any ideas would be a great help thanks. <Just keep an eye on things. Make sure it's not getting skinny. Some fish, not necessarily this one, eat and eat but because it's not the food they're accustomed to, still die from malnutrition. As long as this fish has interest in your diverse food offerings I'd keep it around. Cheers, J -- >

- Yellow Longnose Butterfly, Reef Safe? - Hello, Just found the website, it's great! I read through the FAQs about the yellow Longnose butterfly and still can't decide if they are reef safe. <Depends on your definition.> I know of someone with a large Longnose in a 55 reef tank and he claims that it doesn't bother any of his corals, he just feeds his fish often. I have many types of mushrooms, leather corals, star polyps, open brains, way too many button polyps and a plate coral, 150 lbs. of live rock in 90 gallon. All are thriving and reproducing like crazy. I have a relatively aggressive tank with a purple tang, Naso tang ( yeah I know a 90 gallon is too small for a Naso to live out its life), 6 line wrasse, exquisite fairy wrasse, a large 5 year old cinnamon clown, a potters angel and a female swallowtail angel. <I wouldn't add anything else to this mix, quite frankly.> All get along well, no one bothers the corals at all.  I think the butterfly will be able to hold its own with them but will it bother my corals? <A better question is can your tank hold its own... I think your peaceful stasis would be thrown off by the addition of another fish - all your occupants do and will grow, feel the need to make territories, etc... adding another fish to this mix in this size tank is asking for trouble.> Are they prone to eat/pick at any particular coral species? <Most all butterflies pick at just about anything, is what they do in the wild... what they will pick at varies by individual so there's no way to predict with any accuracy.> With so many corals in there (very little space left on the rock) what are the odds that a Longnose will bother any one coral enough to kill it? <50/50> Maybe I'm pushing my luck here. <I think so.> I would appreciate any feedback at all? Thanks, Rob <Cheers, J -- >

Stocking Question, II - I Really Love C. semilarvatus! >Dear Marina, >>Yes Mike? >Thanks for your thoughtful reply.   >>You're quite welcome. >(Is that your real name? quite beautiful, never heard it before and so indicative of your interests.  Don't feel you have to answer this!) >>Yes, it is indeed my real name, passed from eldest daughter to eldest daughter.  I had two boys.  Beat this with a stick; I was also born a Pisces. >I see where you are going with the stocking selection.  I sense that your tendency would be to leave out the 2 semilarvatus and even leave out if it were only one semilarvatus.   >>Ah, no, not at all.  My concern is that I am unfamiliar with conspecific aggression with this species.  They're not one of the more delicate species of butterfly, though I'm hesitant for a beginner, but the same is true of the tang and Anthias.  As I said before, though, one C. semilarvatus would eliminate that issue of conspecific aggression (if it even exists, most butterflies are quite peaceful with their own kind). >As you may be able to tell, I want what is best for the community.  I could make the purple tang be the one large fish (I know he will help tremendously with algae control) and boy are they beautiful and active.  And then keep the rest of community small.  Is this your suggestion?   >>Generally, yes.  It's all a matter of balance here.   >If so, would I, could I include a Centropyge with either a flame or a coral beauty? >>Absolutely you could!  Yes, not at all a problem with either of those angels. >Does this type of mix make a more environmentally sound choice and overall better sense for the 90gal? >>Yes, if you limit to one C. semilarvatus, one Purple tang, one Centropyge, keep the shoal of Chromis small, only three. >1 purple tang 1 dwarf angel 1 fairy wrasse 1 flame wrasse (Cirrhilabrus jordani) 3 blue reef Chromis >>This would work as well, though you've indicated you REALLY love the C. semilarvatus.  If you make sure you get a wrasse that's going to get no larger than 2"-3" (such as a six-line), then you should be alright.  So, you could conceivably go with (in order of stocking): 3 Chromis damsels 1 fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus sp.) 1 flame wrasse (Cirrhilabrus jordani) 1 Centropyge (I'd go for the C. loricus) 1 Chaetodon semilarvatus 1 Purple tang >A penny for your thoughts. >>Heh, around here they come even cheaper than that.  ;)  On the wrasses, IF you could get them, consider a group of one species of wrasse (thinking of harem of flasher wrasses or fairy wrasses--one male, two females would work well).  This may be much more pleasing in the long run than one of each of two different species.  Absolutely, with any of these fish, do NOT underestimate the importance of quarantine.  30 days is the minimum protocol.   >And again thanks for your expertise and time, Mike Grossman >>You're welcome again.  Marina
Thank You, I Really Love C. semilarvatus!
>Dear Marina, >>Dear Mike, yes? >Thank you.   >>Ah, again, most welcome my friend. >I couldn't help but laugh out loud (really!) at your response to "a penny for your thoughts" in the last question.  Very funny, and I (I guess all of us) can use all the funny we can get.   >>Amen to THAT, bruddah! >I have 2 teen age daughters and the older is named Afton which has also been passed down from mother to daughter to daughter. >>Very interesting, you don't hear of that very often with girls. >I think you have given me all the information I need.  I will decide what choice(s) suit best and proceed. >>I'm very glad I've helped you with your stocking dilemma.  It's about on the same scale of when you've chosen all the options for your brand new wheels except color, and THAT'S the hard part! >Thanks again and I hope you have an especially wonderful week.  Mike Grossman >>You're very welcome, again, and I hope the same for you as well... except let's both make it longer than a week, eh?  Marina

- Butterflyfish Shoehorn-style - Hi, I have a 23 gallon marine aquarium, and am thinking to keep a Copperbanded butterfly fish or a Longnosed butterfly fish in it. I have created a realistic reef, which has caves and access to the back of the tank. Which species would you recommend? <Neither one really - while I'm sure your tank is very nice, it just doesn't have enough water in it to keep any butterfly fish healthy and happy. These fish need excellent water quality and lots of room to move around.> And how large should I buy the individual? <You would have to get one small enough [a juvenile] that it would be in serious trouble from day one.> How long would I be able to keep one of these species in this size tank, could I keep it until it grows to its full potential? <Probably no more than a year, and no I can't think of a butterfly that would live in this size system it's whole life.> I think this will be fine, as I have seen a Copperbanded butterfly fish in a 10 gallon tank. <That doesn't make it the right or conscientious thing to do.> And he was a beautiful, clean and healthy specimen. <Again, just a snapshot in time - that fish could be pushing up daisies at this point. I wouldn't recommend a copper band butterfly for 10, 20, or even 30 gallon tanks - 55 or better.> Thanks, Kind Regards Aaron <Cheers, J -- >

A Tank Fit For A Queen (Pt. 2) Thank you for your response.  Your info is always helpful.  I love the idea of keeping a group of Heniochus together, but I concede to your know-how if you recommend against. <Well, mostly thinking of the Queen Angel that you love, and its need for lots of territory and space> What would you recommend for another butterfly species to get along with the Queen and the Purple Tang?  Two other "players" in the tank (the Purple Tang and the Butterfly) shouldn't take away too much of the queen's space should it?   <I like the Long Nose Butterfly and the Pacific Double Saddle Butterfly...Both are cool fishes, and they shouldn't take up too much of the Queen's territory...Add the Purple Tang last, though...can be nasty...> Thank you again so much. Eric Alspaugh <My pleasure! Scott F>

-Butterflies for beginners- Thank you, Sorry, I have another question.  Can you recommend any butterfly fishes that would be good for a beginner?  I have heard the Klein's and the Lemon.  Please advise. <Chaetodon kleinii is a very hardy critter, just make sure it's eating and acclimated well before you purchase one. You can also do more than one individual if you get them around the same time. Good luck! -Kevin>
What about the lemon butterfly?  What do you think?
<Can you dig up a Latin name for it? -Kevin>
-Lemon butterfly-
Kevin: The Lemon or Millet-Seed Butterfly is Chaetodon miliaris. <Ahhhh, yes, another hardy choice. I haven't seen them around in a while though. -Kevin> Steve Allen

Good Butterfly fish for captive use Could you please recommend other types of butterflies that are hardy and suited for a beginner other than the Klein's?  Also, I added a royal Gramma to my tank 2 days ago.  The tank already had a pair of false perculas in it.  Yesterday the Gramma came out from behind his rock and swam around some.  He seemed to get along well with the clowns.  Today he is just staying up under a rock and not coming out.  His outward appearance seems to be OK.  Is this normal behavior for this type of fish when new?  thank you again, James <Umm, James, have you read through the many Butterflyfish articles and FAQs files archived on WetWebMedia? Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm You will see most all chaetodonts have been "scored" for their historical survivability... and a good deal of input from many earnest aquarists there as well. Bob Fenner>

Pearlscale safe with soft corals? 6/7/03 Hello, <cheers> Are Pearlscale Butterflies safe with mushrooms, button polyps, yellow polyps, etc?   <Hmmm... "safe" is a relative term> Scott Michael's book reports they are reasonably safe with "some of the more noxious soft corals".  Am I right in presuming that these qualify as "more noxious"?   <agreed on both counts> I am considering a Pearlscale for my 75 gal, with about 100 lbs of liverock and the above-mentioned soft corals. Thanks very much, John H. <please do the right thing, my friend... properly QT that butterfly (and any new fish, plant or coral!) and while in the 4 week QT tank, test the fish with a small rock with just a few polyps/corals on it. You will have your answer without risking your whole reef and stressing the fish in an effort to extricate it later. Kindly, Anthony>

Melon Butterflies belong in the Ocean, bub 5/14/03 Hello I was wondering if I added my two melon butterflies about 1.5 to 2" to my main tank that has a clean up crew of snails and blue legs crabs and a sand sifting sea star would I have to worry about them eating the clean up crew and last but not least I have some stag horn and Stylophora and a few pieces of Acropora plus a few mushrooms in my system mostly SPS would they possibly attack these corals or do they just eat coral polyps, anemone, and other soft meaty corals? THANKS! <this Butterflyfish should not be imported into captivity... they are obligate feeders on coral polyps... specifically Pocillopora. If is impractical, if not unethical to import or purchase this fish unless you are farming Pocillopora coral to feed it. More information see here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=trifasciatus best regards, Anthony>

Chasing Butterflies... Hi, I have a few questions... <I hope that I can provide a few answers! Scott F. with you today!> 1) If I add Ca to water will it affect pH or alkalinity (Carbonate harness) ? <Well, much to say/read about here. The calcium alkalinity dynamic has been well covered in various articles on both the WWM site, and in a number of books. A great explanation is found in Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation"- do check it out!> 2) I've noticed that my banded coral shrimp was 'looking into' gills of my Flame Angel. Is this a sign that my FA has gill flukes? I.e. will the cleaner shrimp only look there if they can sense the parasites? <Well, it may be a sign that the angel has "allowed" the shrimp to "check under the hood" to take a peek at something that may be irritating the fish...A natural behavior for both animals> 3) I wanted to add two fish to my aquarium: the Banner fish (Heniochus) and Copper Band or Auriga Butterfly. I wonder if they'll be ok to keep with Clownfishes, yellow tang and a flame angel? <Well, from a social aspect, these guys should do okay. However, the biggest (no pun intended here) concern is the size of your tank and the ability to provide the room that these fishes need to be happy. The C. auriga can hit 8 inches plus in captivity, and really appreciates a lot of swimming space, as does the Heniochus> Will they all eat corals? All corals or just specific ones (I was told at local petstore that you can't keep any butterflies with corals because they will eat them... is that true? <Well, many, perhaps most, Butterflyfishes will eat or sample corals an other sessile inverts. The Auriga will definitely sample corals. The Copperband is can go either way- some specimens will chow down on corals, others could care less...it's a roll of the dice. There are a number of Heniochus species kept by hobbyists, and some are known to be a threat to corals, and some are not...You should consult the WWM site for more information on the specific species you are contemplating. There are some "reef safe" butterflies, such as the Pyramid Butterfly, Hemitaurichthys polylepis, which I have seen kept in reef tanks for years without problems. Another cool butterfly that I'd qualify as "reef safe" (whatever that means!) is Chaetodon miliaris, the "Milletseed Butterfly Fish". Being an endemic Hawaiian fish, I am very partial to them! They tend to fade a bit in captivity; this is probably due to some kind of dietary requirement that we can't yet meet. However, they are really easy to keep.> Thanks, Luke <Any time, Luke. Just do a little research on the WWM site before making your final choices, and realize that any of the butterflies are a "trade off" in a reef tank...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Butterflies In A Reef? First of all great thanks from all the info I'm getting from you guys. You're fantastic! I've learn so much in only 2 weeks. <Hey- we're all learning something new, every day! And our readers are a big part of it! Sharing and learning together is what this site is all about! Thanks for your continued support!> With regards to 'sampling corals' do you mean they are absolute no-no, that is will totally eat and destroy the corals? Or simply bite it off from time to time, leaving the coral still alive and growing? <Well, in a captive system, continued "sampling" and nipping at a coral can lead to its ultimate demise. Sometimes, a fish will simply pick at a coral now and then, causing little, if any damage. The problem is, when it gets to be an ongoing thing, you'll need to make a decision. If you have an endless supply of aquacultured coral frags that you don't mid putting at risk, then go for it (another good reason to join a club- but you won't be too popular at the "Frag Swaps" if you tell people why you want the frags! Those reef nerds are pretty hard core, LOL), but it really is a trade off...> Now, what about butterflies and sponges/anemones/sea fans/starfish or giant clams? Will they eat those, too? <Most butterflies will show little interest in clams and starfishes (I had one that constantly nipped at the tube feet of a starfish once, though), but many will at least "examine" sponges, sea fans, and anemones...> Thank you, Luke <A pleasure, Luke! Regards, Scott F>

Aggressive butterflies! >Hi WWM Crew... >>Hi Jane. >We have a 65 gallon saltwater tank, currently stocked with a Sohal tang, a purple tang, two percula clowns, a threadfin butterfly, a flame angel and an algae blenny, together with an assortment of crabs and snails. >>Well stocked, in my opinion overstocked if you allow for growth of the tangs. >On Friday we introduced a Copperband butterfly and a Klein’s butterfly. >>You are definitely overstocked at this point. >We knew the tangs might take exception and put on a show of one-up-man-ship, which they duly did...we turned the lights off, moved a rock and fed them, and things settled down...the following morning the tangs were ignoring them. However, for reasons unbeknownst to us, the threadfin butterfly has taken a very definite dislike to the Klein’s butterfly, and chases it at every opportunity she finds it.   >>They must have a certain amount of horizontal territory, the Klein's is too closely matched (as a species and in its habits) to the threadfin.  I must be completely honest and tell you that I feel that your tank cannot hold that many fish.  You should either return the two butterflies and have your money returned, or immediately set up another tank and keep those two species separate.  For your stocking load you should have those fish in a 100 gallon tank (again, allowing not only for territoriality issues, but also for growth). >Do you have any suggestions as to how we can better acclimatize them to one another...my concern is that the two new butterflies will end up so stressed out that we’ll lose them. >>This is a valid concern, however, you cannot fight nature.  This number of animals is far too many for this size system. >Many thanks in advance for your advice, and your terrific site.  We are absolute beginners with our aquarium, and rely heavily on the advice of those with experience...if only so much of it didn’t conflict!! >>Indeed, and we hope to help.  In my experience it is FAR better to err on the side of caution.  With the Sohal in residence you have a VERY aggressive tang, the purple is a bit better, but both will soon outgrow this system (good reason for another setup, eh?).  Please slim down these numbers, as it is unfair to the fish to be put together like this.  I'm sorry I don't have better "news" for you, but it is my honest opinion here, and our goal as a group is to help people succeed and ensure the animals we remove from the reefs have the best chance possible to survive AND thrive.  Best of luck!  Marina

Copperband Suitability Hello, all.  Thanks, as always, for a great site. <Mornin.  We're here to help.> I have a question about my all-time favorite fish - the Copperband Butterfly.  I have a 75 gallon reef tank with a small upstream refugium.  I had originally written off the Copperband because I thought it would pose too great a risk to my corals and my clam.  I've poured through your FAQs, and I've noticed that most of them say that Copperband doesn't pose that much of a risk. <As far as Butterflies go the Copperbands are more likely to behave themselves.> I also have a growing Aiptasia problem, so the risk of the Copperband might be better than the risk of the Aiptasia getting out of control. Here's what I have in my tank: 1 Hippo Tang 1 Scott's Velvet Wrasse 2 Ocellaris Clowns 3 Firefish Gobies 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp 1 Peppermint Shrimp (I've had him for 5 days.  No interest in the Aiptasia so far, but probably too soon to tell.) <probably.> 1 Bubble-tip Anemone 1 Colt Coral 1 Sun Coral 1 Wellsophyllia 1 Anthelia (small cluster) 6 Acropora (mostly small fragments, all growing well) 1 Maxima clam ...plus lots of live rock and a 3" sand bed. My water parameters are all good -- 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, < 10 nitrates, 410 calcium, 9.6 dKH. I have a small amount of experience with the Copperband.  Years ago I had a FOWLR tank in which I had a small Copperband.  I was able to keep it for a while and get it to eat, but then a damsel fish decided to kill it. <ouch!> So my question is, do you think it's safe for me to get a Copperband?  If the answer is no, please let me down easy!  :-) <Well Patrick, we need to talk.... It's not you, its me.  Ha, just kidding.  The tang and the clowns may be a little to feisty for the Copperband, IMO.  Check out the links below before making any final decisions.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/chelmon.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chelmonfaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm  > Thanks!  

Chaetodon ephippium- reef safe butterfly? 3/14/03 just a quick question:   any experience with the Saddleback butterfly (Chaetodon ephippium) and  hammer corals?  I already have several hammers and would love to get a butterfly. If not the saddleback, any suggestions? thanks for your help, Tom L <as you know, almost all butterflies are a calculated risk with corals. There are very few that are reasonably safe. The safer species (less inclined to eat Cnidarian tissue) are the longer nosed varieties. Copperband butterflies are one of the safest if your tank is peaceful enough (no tangs, few damsels/clowns, etc). Any chance with a Saddle is best taken in a  very large aquarium (over 300 gallons) as this is how many public aquaria get away with it. The sheer volume of live rock affords more grazing opportunities on bryozoans, tunicates, and sponges growing naturally and satisfies/tempers the borderline species. Anthony>

No Butterfly Kisses Here (Butterfly in a Reef)... Oh knowledgeable ones, <Wow! I've been called susceptible, corruptible, culpable, even palatable...but knowledgeable- that's cool! Scott F. here tonight> I am thinking of adding a raccoon butterfly to a 500 gallon reef tank. Mostly SPS. I do have some rose anemones in the tank. Would they be at risk or the SPS.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. I did try to page through you question pages but could not find this are describing this. Thanks in advance. <On the whole, I'd have to call this fish "reef-unsafe". It really will eat, or at least sample, most of the SPS and other corals and inverts that you are keeping. In fact- I can recall at least one book that recommends trying an anemone as an appetite stimulant for a Raccoon Butterfly who's a reluctant feeder. Yikes! Much better to try a Chaetodon kleinii, or a Forcipiger longirostris ("Big Long-Nosed Butterflyfish"), IMO. These fishes are a bit less of a threat to your corals. Granted, in a large tank with lots of corals- the "damage" is spread out over a lot of specimens, but do you really want to put them at risk? It's really a "roll of the dice" when attempting to keep a Butterfly in a coral-dominated reef system. Keep researching these fishes, and make the decision based upon your level of comfort...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Reef tank resident Hi, I just wanted to get your opinion on whether a Forcipiger flavissimus would be acceptable in a reef tank.  I know it's a Butterflyfish but I've read that they are generally not nippy with sessile invertebrates.  I really trust your opinions and appreciate you help. <Amongst the highest level of confidence of usefulness. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/forcipig.htm and the linked files beyond. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Erik Jorvig

Butterflyfish Hey Crew, what's shakin' tonight? <Nothing much> I've been reading up on Butterflyfish lately as I would like to add one more active attractive fish to my 55 gallon tank. I'm researching ahead of time so as to have a good plan on what I want than to just buy anytime I see a nice fish. So far I have a black Sailfin blenny, yellow tang, 2 tank bred true percula clowns and 2 cleaner shrimp. I'm thinking of definitely adding a flame angel and a butterfly fish is my last choice although I would add the angel last. Should I stop at the flame angel? <Yes> If I get the butterfly, which would be better or "reef safer", a Pearlscale (xanthurus) or Heniochus (diphreutes)? <Please see www.WetWebMedia.com regarding.> Although I have nothing now, I may get mushrooms, polyps, and a bubble coral. Is the Heniochus a shy fish? <Not IME> Thanks so much for your reply <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Fish Questions Hi Crew, Just a few quick fish questions if you have the time. Are ocellaris clowns hardier/better to buy than perculas? <They seem to be slightly hardier, more prolific, more widely available.> Is it better to buy either in pairs? <Either can be purchased in pairs.> Are there any best butterfly fish for the reef tank? <Some people like to use Raccoons or Copper-Banded Butterflyfish.> I like the Heniochus acuminatus but that's a sure no no isn't it? <Acuminatus is no good, but diphreutes is fine.> Thanks again gang, great website! Justaguy <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Chaetodon bennetti What are some special health problems of the species Chaetodon bennetti? <This is one of the notoriously poor choices for Butterflyfish with almost all imported dead within one month. They eat coral polyps and are unable to be kept currently.> What is the special source of medical care if needed that Chaetodon bennetti need if in case they get hurt or sick? What is the size of cage area that the species Chaetodon bennetti need to survive? What are the social needs of the species Chaetodon bennetti? What is the cost of maintaining (monthly estimate) for the Chaetodon bennetti? What are the care issues of the Chaetodon bennetti species? Are they high or low maintenance? <All of your other questions are moot.> Thank you for you assistance, Heather Cook <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: C. semilarvatus.....too expensive (BF Selection) Thanks Bob, Things are extremely expensive here in the Rep. of Ireland, even compared to the UK....... unfortunately, even equipment!!! <Take heart... the yank dollar is on a downward spiral against most all world currencies... Can you imagine G.W. Bush debating with Tony Blair? Me neither, sigh.> Yes I agree, Paucifasciatus are absolutely gorgeous. In two's, well that would be just something - and being smaller than the semilarvatus, are some what more manageable too. I do not know, but have a feeling they'll be cheaper than semilarvatus.... <Yes... should be 1/3 to 2/5 the price> 100 Euro I can handle, 180 each I cannot!!! Would it be possible to get just two Paucifasciatus and put them together, as we discussed RE. semilarvatus. i.e. not a pre-established pair. <Yes, should be fine> I keep your general comments in the back of my head "skip buying pairs and trios, or groups of a given species unless they appear in close association in the dealer's tank". The thing is, if I want two, I'll have to order two - in this part of the world I won't just happen upon a pair...... they'll have to be ordered, and I do not think TMC supply "pairs" of any butterfly - so will it be ok to just order two and put them in my tank and hope for the best, or is that utter madness??? <I would go ahead as planned. This species is found in duos or singles over its range... will likely learn to associate with another in your system> As I mentioned before, my dealer told me with reference to semilarvatus that he "got two fish, acclimatized them, and put them together, and they co-existed for years with the occasional minor scuffle"....... could the same be expected from Paucifasciatus ??? <Yes, but not to the same degree... associate about half as strongly> Thanks for your time Bob, I just want to make sure I do it right this time.... don't want to take some silly risks, and figure if anyone has tried this undertaking, you have. Kind Regards, Matt <Bob F, just back from the USVI>


Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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