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FAQs on Butterflyfish Systems

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

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

Healthy, large, well-established systems make for good Butterflyfish worlds.

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Various Saltwater Aquarium Questions; stkg. a 58 gal.        2/14/16
<Hi there>
I wanted to start by saying I absolutely love your site. I am doing my best to read through as much of it as I can before I attempt my first saltwater aquarium! I apologize beforehand if any of my questions are stupid, and I'm sure there will be quite a few.
<Mmm; well; WWM IS arranged in a first to last sort of logical order, but I DO encourage you to read one or more standard works (books) on marine aquarium keeping as part of your pre- set-up learning>
Some of the first questions I have concerns the tank and stocking restrictions. The tank is a pre-drilled 58 gallon tank. The dimensions are 36 inches long, 18 inches wide and 21 inches tall. I plan to have a sump as well as a 29 gallon aquarium converted into a refugium for filtration. In a tank this size, what sort of fish am I limited to?
<Heeeeee! A huge selection>
I have a huge interest in butterfly fish as well as Centropyge angels.
<Too small for Chaetodontids really... you could have a small harem (one male, two females) of the "dwarf" dwarf Centropyges... There's an article on WWM re>
Specifically, I am interested in Genicanthus watanabei, Chaetodon collare, and Centropyge flavissima.
<Mmm; no; none of these really. They all need much more room>
Obviously I'm open to any and all suggestions for stocking and care. Thank you for your time,
<Look into the books... and KEEP READING! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Game Plan for New Tank, SW set up, stkg.  6/18/2013
Hi Crew -
I moved last year, so I'm looking to set up a new 100g FOWLR in my new office at work and have a service do the maintenance.  I travel occasionally, and I'm not in the office over the weekend, so I need a low maintenance system with relatively hardy fish that will be fine with only Spectrum pellets fed by timer when I'm out of the office.  I was hoping you could take a quick look at my plan and let me know if you'd recommend any adjustments before I move forward...
System:  Red Sea Max S-Series 400 (42" long, 97g excluding the overflow area and sump, 110g total).  It comes with 390W of T5 lighting, a C-Skim 1800 skimmer, carbon filtration and 2100gph of total circulation.  There's no cover to the tank, so there should be good oxygen levels with the skimmer (though I need to avoid jumping fish).  I plan to add an auto waste container to the skimmer so that it doesn't overflow between maintenance periods.  I also plan to add an additional auto water top off to refill the included one if it gets low.  The system only comes with one return pump, so I'll get a spare.  In the hopefully unlikely event that the main pump goes out when I'm out of the office, there are other circulation pumps in the main display, so the tank will likely survive until I'm back in the office to replace the main pump.  The office building is in a major city and unlikely to lose power for long (it has a backup generator), so I'm less concerned about a long term power outage.  I'll use two feed timers both feeding small amounts so that it's likely that even if one dies, the other will at least provide some food.  Any other recommendations for my setup?
<Not so far. It appears you've done a good bit of studying>
Stocking:  In planned order of introduction... 3 Green Chromis, 2 False Percula Clowns (to be obtained as a pair), 3 Latticed B/Fs, 3 Angels (Watanabei, Bicolor, Flame),
<Mmm, I'd cut this back to one butterfly specimen and just the Genicanthus, or the two Centropyge for this size, shape system. Too likely to not get along otherwise>

 1 Kole and 1 Orangetail Blue Damsel.  I also plan to have some shrimp (2 Skunk, 2 Fire and 4 Peppermint) and possibly a few turbo snails (if needed).  I've successfully kept all of these fish together before, along with other similar fish, but that was in a larger tank, so this feels a little tight and I thought I'd better get a second opinion.  Do you think all these fish would work in the planned setup? If not, what adjustments would you recommend?
<As stated. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Game Plan for New Tank
Bob -- Thank you so much for the quick reply.  I was afraid this setup would be too snug.  Rather than cut back on the Butterflies and Angels (my favorites), I'd be more inclined to go with a bigger tank.  While the S400 (42", 97g) would fit best in the office, I could make the S500 (51", 119g) work.  Do you think the 3 Butterflies and 3 Angels would get along in the
<Mmm, no. I wouldn't try to squeeze these fishes in this slightly larger size, shape>
If a little extra elbow room would help, I could skip the Kole. 
Unfortunately, 51" is as big as I can fit. 
Thanks again! 
<Just not a good bet, a wager on such mixes... Too likely to have problems... and when? Of course, when you're not about. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Game Plan for New Tank
Understood.  I'll scale back my fish plans accordingly.  It's hard adapting to smaller tanks after having a 220g tank for so long.  Thanks for the advice! 
<Glad to share. BobF>
Re: Game Plan for New Tank, now a 50 g, stkg., FOWLR   6/19/2013
Hi, Bob -- In scaling back, I have one other option to consider.  I have an option to pick up a nice 50g (36x18x18) tank, stand, canopy and T5 lighting from a neighbor who's upgrading to a bigger reef system.  It doesn't have a sump, but it has a Remora hang-on skimmer with filter box and collection cup drain.  I originally thought "no," because I wanted multiple Butterflies and Angels.  But since that isn't possible, I thought I would reconsider.  Most of the guidelines I see for the smaller B/Fs suggest 50g minimum.  Would you agree? 
<Only for temporary, small specimens... Chaetodontids really suffer for the stress of small captive confines. IMO their losses here are only second to collection, handling damage as a source of mortality in our care>
If so, I'd scale back my stocking to the following:  Latticed B/F, Flame Angel, False Percula Clown Pair, Orangetail Blue Damsel, Mystery Wrasse and Royal Gramma.  Any changes you'd recommend to this line-up or setup?
<Yes; I'd drop the BF and the Loricula... only go w/ a dwarf dwarf Centropyge sp. Read here re:
Oh! The article was pulled pending pulp publishing... go through the Related FAQs instead: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dwfdwfangels.htm
 I'd still need to add automated feeders and an auto-water top off, but those are minor tweaks.  Many thanks for your help! 
<Happy to assist. B>
Re: Game Plan for New Tank
Sounds like I'll have to pass on the 50g deal...  I just can't give up my B/F!  I'll stick with my plan for the S400 with 1 B/F and 2 Dwarf Angels. 
Thanks again! 
<Ah welcome. BobF, who would buy, get, use both systems!>

Butterfly Fish in a 46 Bowfront?- 01/15/2012
Hello, I was just wondering if I could get your input on a Butterflyfish in a 46 gallon bowfront tank. This will be a FOWLR and maybe some macro algae.
Thinking tank inhabitants consisting of a flame angel, Longnose hawk, fairy wrasse, orchid Dottyback? If the butterfly is a no go, could you recommend a nice centerpiece fish for a tank like this? (excluding dwarf lions, they scare me!)
Thank You!
<I'd count your proposed Centropyge as the centerpiece and call it a day.
Bob Fenner>

Butterfly Fish/Compatibility/Systems 2/14/12
<Hello Justin>
This is the first time I
<Please cap "i's" in future writings.>
have written into your forum. I read it a lot and I have a couple of questions regarding butterfly fish specifically the auriga. In my 55 gallon fish tank with 10 gallon sump with protein skimmer 80lbs of live rock, 60 lbs of live sand.   I have a Nemo clownfish Yellow Tang
<And proper nouns such as names of fishes.>
bi colored blenny and azure damsel. How will the butterfly fish get along in this tank? I also have two bubble tip anemones and two feather dusters that the wife does not want to get rid of.
<Not good.  Tank is too small for an auriga and will be too small for the Yellow Tang.
The auriga is very likely to nip/eat the tentacle tips off your anemones.>
There is also plans to get a green mandarin and a flame angel.  How will they get along?
<Should be fine without the butterfly.  Your Azure Damsel is on the semi-aggressive side and may harass the Flame Angel or other new additions initially.>
 If the auriga butterfly does not get along with what i have or what i have planned is there any butterfly fish that will?
<Mmm, I suggest reading here and related articles/FAQs keeping in mind that a 50 gallon tank is too small for most
Butterflyfish and many species will go after anemones. 
A totally safe Butterflyfish would be the Black Pyramid Butterflyfish. 
James (Salty Dog)>

Butterflyfish/Systems 9/13/11
<Hello Ron>
I would like some information or your opinion. I am moving from an apartment to my own house, I have a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium that is a fish only with live rock, refugium and protein skimmer, the tank is 5 feet long.
When the tank is in it's final place and setup I would like to add some butterfly fish to the tank, now the tank has a Regal Angel, African Flameback Angel, Yellow Tang, Leopard Wrasse, Yellow Goby and a Klein 's Butterflyfish, so if any, what piece of equipment could I add on to make this tank best for harder to keep butterflies like raccoon 's or false falcula's, was thinking a canister but would a wet dry be better?
<The wet/dry or sump would be much, much, better and still allows you to use chemical media. May want to read here as well.
and also would like to add led lights which are best for this setup , I do like the pendant's.
<Obviously you won't be having corals with a Raccoon in mind, so an intense LED fixture wouldn't be necessary, and your budget (if any) should narrow down the choices for you. I'd just Google and see what's available for your needs. Might help to read here first.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)
Re Butterflyfish/Systems 9/13/11- 9/15/11

The refugium is already a sump design just wondering if I should add some type of filtration for the butterflies. I know they are demanding as for as water quality,
<Depends on whether your sump is designed to utilize chemical media and has a filter sock for removing physical waste. If so, that should be all that's necessary providing an efficient protein skimmer is being used.>
Thanks again
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

55 Gallon Butterflyfish?/Butterflyfish Systems 8/27/11
Hello there. Felipe here.
<Hello Felipe. James back at you.>
I just spoke to you guys about whether or not I could have any Anthias in a 55 gallon fowlr and the results were as I figured. That's ok though. I would like to know if maybe I can have any Butterflyfish that are not too difficult to take care of in a 55 gallon long fowlr? Thanks in advance.
P.S. there is nothing in the tank yet. Just getting some ideas.
<May want to read here first and ensure you can provide for their needs/requirements.
There aren't too many Butterflyfishes that will be happy in a 55 gallon system.
The Pyramid Butterflyfish is one species that is hardy and could thrive in a 55 gallon tank. <<Mmm, no. RMF>> It's also recommended to get a few months age on the system before adding a Butterflyfish.
Learn to use the search tool on our site and it will lead you to most any information you seek. A link to our marine index can be found here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Hey Guys/Butterfly Fish/Systems 12/4/09
I am stocking my 90gal FOWLR very slowly and it's been up and running for a little over two months now. I know Bob states to wait a while before adding any butterflies but what about a Heniochus (considering it's the hardiest of all butterflies)?
<May be the hardiest, but your tank should age more, say 6 months minimum before adding the Heni.>
If not a Heni, I was considering a Flame Angel.
What are your thoughts on this?
<Same as above.>
As of right now I have a Clarkii clown and 3 Yellowtail Damsels. Ammonia and nitrite are zero, nitrates are 15. I have two canister filters running along with a UV with a total of 900 gph.
Tank is heavily stocked with about 55lbs. of live rock. I'd appreciate your input on this matter.
<Butterfly Fish require pristine water quality, and with a 15ppm reading of nitrate, on a tank a little over two months old.........Mmmm, do consider getting a protein skimmer for your system before adding any sensitive fish. Do read here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Marks appearing on fish, Amblygobius & BF sel. 01/19/09 Hi Bob, <Nick> I'm pleased to report my Eibl's lesion has cleared up nicely! <Ah, good> I got my goby the other day too, supposedly A. phalaena, I thought it looked a bit pale when I collected it but figured it may just be stress colouration, actually after a bit of fishbasing (word?!) it turns out I have an A. bynoensis! I even gave the LFS the scientific name too. <Interesting: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=55505&genusname=Amblygobius&speciesname=bynoensis> I notice there's not much info on this species so was wondering whether you have any experience with them? <Have never seen this fish, in captivity or the wild> Can I assume its husbandry requirements are similar to A. phalaena? <Very likely so> I was also wondering if you think my tank would be suitable for one of the larger b/fly species such as C. lunula, C. auriga or one of the Forcipiger spp or should I stick with one of the smaller spp? (I'm thinking melannotus or punctatofasciatus)? <Mmm, the shape being what it is... I would likely skip a Butterfly entirely... too likely to be too nervous in not being able to "get away"> The tanks 280l (46"x24"x15") with a 100l sump/fuge, 35kg LR, decent water movement and a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer. Residents are 1 Centropyge eibli, 2 Amphiprion ocellaris and the Amblygobius phalaena. The b/fly would be the last fish. Thanks again, Nick <I'd keep looking if it were me, my tank. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Marks appearing on fish 01/19/09
I'll attempt to get a decent photo of it in the near future. <Ok> Hmm cheers for the advice on the b/fly, will scrap that idea, I take it they need more height to feel secure? <Mmm, more width and length actually> The only other fish on my wish list was Halichoeres melanurus although I'd be concerned about competition for pods now I have the goby. <Is a beauty though...> Do you have any suggestions for a crustacean-safe, bold, feature fish that would be happy in this setup? I realise its quite a broad question but let's say if it were your tank and you wanted to finish it off?! <Perhaps with a genus Ctenochaetus tang... Maybe C. hawaiiensis, or C. strigosus... BobF>

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>

Pearlscale Butterfly Problem, induced   8/27/08 Hi there, Just want to say thanks for your assistance! Your website has answered so many of my problems over the last couple of months and what you do for others in need is really saying something about you, so thank you. Anyway.. i currently have: 1 Pearlscale butterfly 2 false Perc clownfish 1 Chromis In a 35 gallon tank. <Mmm, too small a volume for this or any other species of Butterflyfish> My concern is the butterfly fish. I know this species does need a fair bit more room i have heard of alot <... no such word> worse, and as a 16 year old this tank is all i can afford. <Then... return the BF> I have had the butterfly for about a month now and after about a week it started to scratch itself on rocks. I noticed a few spots similar to Ich so i turned the heat up a bit they soon disappeared and the scratching stopped. But it has been 2 weeks since and he/she breathes quite rapidly. <Maybe just/simply the increased metabolic rate from the elevated temp. and lower DO at that temp...> And he never used to breath so fast and it is starting to concern me because i don't know what it could be. He eats alot and swims fine. My ammonia and nitrite is 0 and nitrate is 7ppm. The other fish aren't having any problems with their breathing. Any ideas on cause and solution would be much appreciated, thanks so much. Kind regards, Patrick <Could be a psychological component here as well... the Damsels frightening the BF... Again, I'd return this fish, get something more appropriate to your setting. Bob Fenner>

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, Snails, and a Klein's Butterfly... Mich   4/11/07 (I don't know if you received this before, sending a second time) <Thank you for re-sending. I don't recall seeing this> To Whom It May Concern: <Jonathan> First and foremost, thank you for all the vital information you provide to your readers.  I have successfully maintained a 30 gallon FOWLR saltwater aquarium for approximately fourteen months, and have utilized your site on numerous occasions. <Glad to be of service> Unfortunately, I feel like my questions would seem quite elementary. <?> Having researched your FAQ section, I have found some similar situations to that of mine.  I've been using Instant Ocean since beginning my aquarium. <A good product... that has seemed to have suffered some inconsistency incidents in recent times> Recently, running low on salt, I decided to try Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals. When I got home and opened the Reef Crystals I noticed a very strong smell. <!?> The best way to describe it is that of a freshly opened container of multi-vitamins. I have never noticed a smell with my traditional Instant Ocean salt, <Me neither... perhaps with the exception of a sharp, salty "clean ocean" smell at times> and wondered if this could be attributed to the added trace elements in the Reef Crystal mix? <Mmm, shouldn't be> Additionally, since I performed my first water change with the new salt, my Margarita snails have been acting quite sluggish and are losing their ability to adhere to live rock, glass, etc. I have had my (4) snails for over a year now with no problems. I am a bit concerned over the smell of the Reef Crystals and the possible correlation to the decline of my snails. Red Sea test readings are as follows: Ammonia = 0.0 N02 = 0.0 NO3 = .25ppm to .50ppm (this has always floated in this range) Copper = 0.0 PH = 8.2 Alkalinity = Normal Range (I am aware I should implement a more specific test kit) I use RO for 10% weekly water changes and have never tested for magnesium or calcium. I am worried that the magnesium could be an issue, being several statements in the FAQ section comment on such a problem. I am also aware that my NO3 readings are quite high, yet they have been consistently floating in that range for several months. I would think my snails would have been adversely affected by these NO3 readings before now. All of my other livestock appears fine - (6) hermit crabs, a Bi-color Blenny, and a Klein's Butterfly.  Please provide additional information you may have acquired since those previous submissions. Also, is this potent smell typical of Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals, and if not, could it be the cause for the decline in my precious Margarita snails? <Don't know... but this is possible> Finally, I am aware that a Klein's Butterfly fish is not well suited for a 30 gallon set-up. I am getting married later this year and cannot upgrade to a larger aquarium until late 2008. In my research, I have found the Klein's Butterfly will grow to approximately 5 inches. He is an adult that is currently 2“ 2? inches.  Is there any information as to the growth rate of this fish? <Does generally grow slowly... am out in part of its range currently visiting... You can see a graphic representation of a "growth curve" for this on fishbase.org: Well, actually you can't... they don't show a Growth curve for this species: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5446&genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=kleinii But IME it is a slow grower...> Will I be able to maintain him in a 30 gallon aquarium for another year and a half? I love my fish a great deal, and some would say, treat him as if he was a cat. <Perhaps> Thank you for your time and effort in these matters. Sincerely, John. Bristol, Pa <Mmm, am hoping MichL, will see your physical address, direct you to fellow marine keepers, associations in your State. Bob Fenner> <I would contact the company that makes Instant Ocean, Aquarium Systems... re your concerns here... Send them back a sample for testing. BobF>

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 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>>
<Would count on a 300 gal. plus system for an Arusetta sp. long term. RMF>

Stressed out B/F's... some valuable life lessons in resource limitation  - 03/11/2006 Hello, <Hi there> I'm hoping you can help me out here. I have a 55 gal. with 2 small Perc. Clowns & 2 Butterflies (Pearlscale & threadfin). <Mmm, this sized system for these chaetodonts is problematical...> My husband came home with a new tank mate 2 days ago and my butterflies have gone crazy. He added a Sailfin Tang, very small, still a juv. The Sailfin is doing great, very friendly, but the butterflies & clowns have all crowded into the top corner of the tank. <Sort of like having "Jack the Knife" move into your home here> After the first night, I woke up and both B/F's were covered with spots, on the fins and the body, looked like someone took a salt shaker to them. <Ahh... Cryptocaryon... very likely present in your system in sub-symptomatic level... brought on to hyperinfective state by the added stress...> I called my LFS and they said that was very strange for that to happen overnight and to re-arrange the d?or and make new homes. <Mmm, no> They said maybe the sailfin was trying to take over the tank. <Has> What should I do? It is the second day and they look better but still have visual signs of the spots, and are still acting scared for there lives. Thanks, Wendy Thank You, <The Ich/crypt is cycling... going into a soon-to-be much larger stage... Very big trouble likely brewing here... There is a bunch for you to know, and the only expedient way (not knowing what you know...) is to sift through materials on this and related situations: http://wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm and the linked files above. You need also to address the root cause of the troubles here: crowding, the mixing of incompatibles in such a system, and the lack of quarantine... I'd separate the Zebrasoma tang, and get ready to do what you will for your Ich infested system... and soon. 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>

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>

Chaetodon melannotus - Tank size? Hi guys, hope you are all well as winter closes in. <Thank you> In the near future i will be converting my 30g fish only system into a 62g (UK gallons - i believe its around 75 US) fish only. My current fish are 1 Centropyge eibli, 1 Gramma loreto and 2 Amphiprion ocellaris. I am planning on adding a Chaetodon melannotus to the mix as i have read they are hardy (for b/flies anyway) and i just wanted to check if my tank is large enough. <Yes...> I am also not planning on adding live rock, will this be a problem for this species?. <Mmm, would be much better if it had LR, yes... for food, decor/habitat and water quality help mostly> If so do you think a Calloplesiops altivelis would be a good alternative or just a threat to my Gramma and clowns? <This would be a fine substitute... not present a predatory problem likely ever... grow slowly> All are around 4-5cm long. I have read accounts of them being successfully kept with gobies before but have already lost 1 Gramma and don't wish to lose another of my favourite fish species. Thanks for the great site, Nick <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon pelewensis and Prayer - Why do People Insist on Impulse-buying Animals??? 10/25/05 First of all OH MY JESUS I LOVE THIS SITE, <Yeeikes!> second of all I went and bought a Chaetodon pelewensis, although it was sold it under the name "sunset Butterflyfish".  Now I didn't know it was on your hate list but I bought it because it looked stunning, in fact seeing as it's a Butterflyfish I cleared out my whole tank for it so that it's the only fish in the tank. I have no idea what the gallon conversion system is in America (so sorry I live in England by the way, and I'm a deliciously ignorant 15 year old) <<Apparently it isn't just Americans who suffer poor punctuation, grammar, etc.  Can't accuse you of being a non-native English-speaker, can we?  MH>> <You'll be just as delicious, but far more satisfied with more knowledge... there's a bit less than four liters/litres per U.S. gallon...> but my tank's dimensions in inches are 30 x 12 x 15 so if you could be kind enough as to tell me what its capacity is, I'd be very grateful. <... there are about 231 cubic inches in a U.S. gallon... multiply those three numbers together, divide by 231...> <<As well as MANY conversion programs/sites available online!  We Yanks can even convert to liters using them.  MH>> Anyway my main concern now is that I've got it, so I need to know how do I care for it, feed it etc. <...> Also the concept of live rock isn't huge here in England due to the related problems of disease. Anyway please help me, also is my tank too small? <Yes> I really don't want to get rid of it as I love it and it cost me ?120 which I think is nearly $300 and so you can imagine my father was mortified and there is no refund policy.  <<Well, how did you get the money/credit card?>> Also if my tank isn't too small do you think I could add any other fishes, if so which ones? <I would beg the stockist to allow you to exchange this fish for more suitable life... Please start reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner> 

29 gallon saltwater, no BF 8/19/05 Hello Crew! <Hi Brian!> I am 14 years old and new to the hobby. <Great to here this bud!> I have a 29 gallon marine setup with a skimmer, live sand, 20 pounds of live rock, two hermit crabs, a small feather-duster, and one tank raised percula clown. I was wondering if I could put in a small butterfly fish such as a lemon butterfly "full grown 5 inches". Thanks, Brian. <Unfortunately Brian, the 29 gallon tank is much too small for any butterfly long-term. I am however very happy that you took the time to actually email us and ask this question. This shows that you do genuinely care about the animals you are planning to keep and that you will take the time to go out of your way and learn. Fantastic! Please continue to further your knowledge of marine/reef life and we hope to hear from you soon. - Ali>

Butterflyfish compatibility 8/17/05 Hi, I would like to know if you can put a Threadfin butterfly fish and a   Pearlscale butterfly in the same tank. I have a 55 gallon tank with about 25lbs.  of live rock in it. <You may have a few minor spats, but don't see any problem.  <<I do. RMF>> A 55 is kind of small especially if the threadfin is rather large.  These fish need really good water quality and diet to maintain for any length of time.  James (Salty Dog)>

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>

A butterfly system Hi there, <Hello Matthew> After a long wait, my new home is finally ready, and I finally got my new tank. It is a 6x2x2 tank, with twin corner overflows. I have been considering making it a reef tank, but I keep turning back to butterfly fish........... so I am now undecided. My question is, if I were to make it a butterfly system, how many butterflies could be kept in my new tank, assuming I am choosing fish that will grow to 4"-6"? <Depending on species... some like Collare's live in groups... others are best just kept two of one species per system... most other chaetodonts could be kept as a few species here> The system is new, so it can easily be molded to best suit butterflies in terms of decor, filtration, circulation etc, and the live stock I have at present would present no real problems (flame angel, orange spot goby, Clarkii clown). I could add dither etc too if that helps the situation. <Not necessary or advised. But would house them with more passive fishes otherwise.> I am not set on the idea of a b'fly tank just yet, but having an idea of what I could realistically might help me make up my mind. By the way, I have been at the marine fish keeping game for 5 or 6 years, and have kept fish like an emperor angel and tangs in the past etc, so I am not a complete novice - I just haven't kept b'flies before, and hence have no point of reference to judge how many I could keep. Cheers, Matt <A few genera, species are much easier to keep than many others. My accumulated rating by species is posted on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>
Re: butterfly system
Thanks Bob, Well if I gave you an idea of exactly what species I would be interested in, then maybe you could cast your opinion over it. <Okay> The species I like are: (1) C. Semilarvatus (2) C. collare (3) C. falcula OR C. auriga <C. auriga is better) (4) C. paucifasciatus (5) C. ephippium <A beauty, but the hardest to keep of all listed> (6) F. longirostris (7) H, intermedius A possible combination of the above that I was considering (all red sea) might look like: C. semilarvatus (pair) C. paucifasciatus (pair) H. intermedius (pair) C. auriga (single) <A much better grouping/choice> Would that be too much for a 180? As I say, I am just trying to get a feel for stocking densities as far as b'flies go. Cheers Matt <Should be very nice. Bob Fenner>
Re: butterfly system
Thanks again for the response Bob. My proposed stocking list sounds quite appealing to me. Just to recap: C. semilarvatus (pair) C. paucifasciatus (pair) H. intermedius (pair) C. auriga (single) How would you suggest the system be set up? <In what way?> I was thinking that I would have just a very thin layer of sand. About 50 - 50 of live rock - dead rock. About 90lbs of LR, Fiji rock. I understand that butterflies like a brisk flow - how brisk? <Not too brisk, but let's be more specific. Ten times capacity in movement per hour is not too much, yet this is far great than most systems. Twenty times would be okay even> I was thinking something along the lines of about 10 tank volumes an hour. <Oh! Maybe we should start a mind-meld club> I will obviously have a decent skimmer, and I like to keep Caulerpa in the sump, with 24hr lighting and regular harvesting. I was thinking what about disease control...... i.e. Whitespot and velvet. I prefer the idea of using UV rather than ozone - less complicated, especially while I'm away. How much UV would I need to be of any real benefit? <Yes... I suggest you employ purposeful biological cleaners as well... Gobiosoma gobies and/or Lysmata sp. shrimp> I would have a decent clean-up crew..... loads of snails etc to keep the rock work clean and tidy. Have I missed out on anything? Would you consider anything else a definite advantage for b'flies? <More live rock> cheers Bob - I know this is a lot of questions for a system that is only a maybe, but in assessing whether to go reef or B'fly, I want to take into account system set-up and everything. regards, Matt <Look for Allen, Allen and Steene's latest BF and Angel book as well. Bob Fenner>  

- 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 -- >

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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