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FAQs on the Golden Butterflyfish

Related Articles: Golden Butterflyfish, Red Sea Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Red Sea Butterflies, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

Chaetodon semilarvatus, the Golden or Blue-Mask Butterflyfish.

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.
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.
Sincerely yours,
<Please do report back regarding your ongoing stocking, observations. Bob Fenner>

Re: 500 gallon FOWLR stocking options; ref. /RS f'       2/2/17
Hi! It's me again ...... just a follow up question. Some websites list that The golden butterflies need to be kept at a slightly higher salinity to mimic their natural habitat. My question is, will keeping my salinity slightly higher at 1.026-28 be harmful to the other fishes that are not from the red sea?
<Like most things in aquariums, once you reach acceptable conditions stability is far more important than precision.
Salinity is a prime example of this. A fish can adjust to a relatively wide range, but cannot do it quickly. Obviously there are limits but you get the idea. Some compromise is possible but 1.026 is not what I'd want generally, let alone 1.028.
Personally I'd avoid this dilemma entirely by choosing a different species of butterfly. Or it could be interesting to go all-in and try a regional biotype with Red Sea fishes. They can be difficult to keep but some of my favorites are the "fancy Basslet" Anthias. To me they are unsurpassed as far as jaw-dropping beauty, they are very active and have personality. You'd have already hurdled two of the obstacles (space and salinity). Maybe check into those.
Also try a background check on specific fishes you're eyeballin'. I'm amazed this subject doesn't get mentioned more commonly but just ask the retailer where the fish is coming from, what they have been keeping it in and for how long, what it's been eating in the shop, etc.. If they have been keeping what you want to keep, in more typical salinity than Red Sea/elevated, you are good to go. At least find out how long the fish has been in the shop and if you can put down a deposit and pick them up in a week in non-elevated salinity, in captivity.
At any rate as always patience is your ally...you will need to slowly acclimate your choices to any big change in salinity in quarantine (a few weeks).>
Thank you very much!

Re: Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang - AND Golden Butterfly... 375 gal. FOWLR f'     1/31/14
Am I asking for trouble by considering a couple/few of the gorgeous Chaetodon semilarvatus to this same group?
<A fave; and these should do fine in such a volume; given they fit in... mostly with the established Zebrasoma... which they should at their present size relatively. I WOULD keep an eye on the alpha tang and be ready to net/trap it out, place it in a floating plastic colander (spag. strainer) in the tank IF there are signs of overt aggression>
  There are currently 4 in QT at the LFS, approximately 2.5" in length.
<And you; Bob Fenner> 
Re: Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang - AND Golden Butterfly: latter, stkg./sel.    2/2/14

Paracanthurus hepatus (after 11 days in QT - gobbling up NLS pellets from day one)
<Ah, good>
 went into the display about an hour before lights out last night and had to deal with Mr. Zebrasoma on occasion, both frontal and caudal posturing. Displaying a few scraps this morning from wedging within the rocks overnight I suspect - didn't appear to be scalpel wounds . Here we are 24 hours after introduction and I just witnessed them swim within 2" of each other as if neither existed. I've seen a few quick bolting lunges from Mr. Z today, but they have continued to minimize as the day went on. I'll continue to observe closely over the next couple days, but I'm hoping the worse is behind me.
In regards to introducing one or more Chaetodon semilarvatus, I've typically seen them singly or in pairs.
<Almost always encountered as pairs in the wild/Red Sea>
Would 3 or 4 coexist/group together considering the 375 gallon volume. Does strength in numbers also improve their chances with Mr. Alpha Zebrasoma xanthurum?
<I would go with two for sure here... And... look for a Red Sea angel to go with... I fully suspect that you would greatly enjoy an Asfur or Maculosus... perfect for this size system, setting. Intelligent, beautiful>
In closing, I remember asking my first question through this forum over 10 years ago in regards to a sump design on my first (90 gallon) aquarium.
 I had just finished "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" soft cover for the first time (of many). I was completely surprised (and so grateful) when I received a response from yourself! I'm now the owner of a well used, updated hardcopy version and would just like to say Thank You for all your work towards a hobby that I love so dearly.
Rick Campbell
<Thank you. Bob Fenner>

masked Butterfly feeding question – 5/30/12
   Have had a masked butterfly fish and an emperor angel in a 70 g
<Both need much more room>

 ( 4 ft x 18inches x 18 inches ) FOWLR since juveniles for 20 months.  The angel started out about 1-1/2 inches in size and the butterfly was about 2-1/2 inches.  Angel is now 5 1/2 inches and started to change to adult coloration.  butterfly 3 1/2 inches.  Angels eats anything.....spectrum pellets, flake, Nori, etc.  Butterfly has only been feeding on Mysis and brine shrimp.  The angel is fat but the butterfly seems a bit thin to me but not unhealthy looking.  Butterfly feeds aggressively but only takes the brine and Mysis shrimp and will not take dry food.  Any suggestions ? Am I likely to see the butterfly feed on anything else ?
<See WWM re the genus (Chaetodon) foods/feeding/nutrition FAQs... but...>
  I am very happy with the progress of the angel fish and it is exciting to see it go through its transformation to adult coloration.
<The real issue/problem here is the too-small system. Needs to be remedied... NOW. Bob Fenner>

SW stkg.  7/3/2011
Hi there Bob and Crew, I was thinking of purchasing a Moorish Idol, and a Golden Butterfly. Comp.
The MI and GB our both eating everything including pellets. I was wondering if they would get along?
<Not a good choice. Better to have two Chaetodon larvatus>
I also have candy striped shrimp, crabs , and snails. Do you think they would eat my clean up crew?
<Not likely, no>
They will be going to 180 gall tank for year or two, then I am planning on buying a 300 gall tank. Thanks, Jim from Idaho
<I'd hold off on trying a Zanclus... really, most don't "make it". Bob Fenner>

Semilarvatus Pair   6/29/10
Crew -
I really appreciate the great info on your website and your help with my specific questions. If I haven't used my quota yet, I have a quick question for you... I have a pair of 3-4" Golden B/Fs that have been in QT for about 2.5 weeks.
<... I'd move these... to the main display... now>
They have looked and acted great, eating like pigs and getting along very well. This morning, I was very surprised to see that they were snapping at each other and seemed to be competing for food rather than eating as buddies like they had been. They both still look good. If they still aren't getting along this evening, I'm debating whether I should divide the QT in half with a tank divider (which may make the QT feel too small for each one and may limit their ability to re-bond) or whether I should cut the QT short and move them to my 220g display now (which would put my other fish at risk if the Goldens have any issues that haven't surfaced yet). What do you recommend?
<Moving them. BobF>
Thanks much,
Re: Semilarvatus Pair
Wow. Thanks for the very fast reply. Will do ASAP. Thanks much!
<Welcome Sean. B>
Re: Semilarvatus Pair - UPDATE and New Question <Mandarin addn.>   7/2/10

Bob -
Thanks again for the great advice. These two instantly became best friends again when they got to the display tank.
<As I presumed>
After some initial harassment by the B/Fs and tangs already in the tank, they are now quite happy in their new home and get along great with their tankmates.
<Ah, good>
Separate question... Your article on Mandarins recommends a tank of at least 100g, assuming there are no food competitors like B/Fs. My setup is a 220g display with 300lbs LR and LR rubble, AquaC EV240 skimmer,
Ozotech 300mg Ozonizer and a 36*14 refugium (with miracle mud, Gracilaria and Ulva). I don't have any fish that would bother a Mandarin. However, I do have 4 B/Fs (the 2 Goldens, a Raffles and a Doublesaddle) that would compete for food. The B/Fs get 4 feedings per day (mostly Spectrum pellets with an occasional frozen option for
variety) and all 4 eat like pigs. Do you think my setup is big enough to support a Mandarin with 4 B/Fs, given that the B/Fs get plenty of supplemental feedings?
<Likely so>
I found a Mandarin that's been at a dealer for a few weeks (supported by a refugium!) that looks to be in great shape, so I'm quite comfortable skipping QT as recommended in your article and FAQs.
<Thank you for this update. BobF>

Re: Red Sea Biotope Questions, C. semilarvatus eating corals    4/6/10
Back again, with updates.
<Ah, good>
I kept the Semilavartus pair in the main tank for 1 month. I got them eating my frozen seafood mixture from a Hammer Coral skeleton and then was able to move them on to flake food as well.
<Very good>They are both very fat and happy. Unfortunately, even eating plenty of meaty foods, they still pick and eat corals to the point that many corals will not come out.
<Mmm, how big is this system? Need hundreds of gallons...>
They are such heavy feeders that I was able to easily capture them in a bottle trap and remove them to the quarantine once again. I am currently looking to sell these fish, which I hate, because they are beautiful fish.
I just can't have them tormenting the corals to death.
Obvious next set of questions. I have to make some adjustments to my fish stocking and need to verify that this is a good mix.
- 9 Chromis (5 viridis, 4 chocolate dip)
- 1 Zebrasoma Xanthurum
- 1 lawnmower blenny
- 1 six line wrasse
I would like to add;
5 - Percula clown juveniles
<... not found in the Red Sea...>
1 - zebra angel
1 - Naso Tang (only fish of size in the tank 150 gal)
1 - Copperband (will this butterfly still pick on soft corals?)
Is there any specific order I should add these?
<The purple tang last, the Angel before it>
The Xanthurum was a bit difficult with the Semi's at first, but then calmed down. He is also easily captured with the bottle trap, so I could remove him for a bit to ease entry of the other fish.
You recommended forgoing quarantine on the Semi's, do you recommend that for any in this new stocking list?
<The Naso>
Are there any other fish you would recommend as peaceful additions?
<Many... but this tank is only 150 gallons... See here:
and the linked files above>
Thanks so much, once again.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Golden Butterfly dominance.   2/8/10
Hello Crew! You all are the best, thanks so much for your time. I have researched Butterflies for months.
I loved what I learned about the Red Sea Golden Butterflies, so I got 2 of them. Not a made pair, but 2 from the same order of a dozen that came in. The biggest one is 4" the smaller is 3". The smaller one is dominating
the bigger one. Chasing him into the same corner every 10 minutes.
<How large a system? What decor/set-up? What other fish species present?>
They've been together here now a month. Its so ugly and predictable now, that the bigger one anticipates the chase, and runs to that corner once the little bully gets behind him. The bigger one waits a few seconds, and gets right back out in the open again. So far he's not bullied into an area and stays there. He swims right back to the bully sometimes, and they pick rocks together like nothing happened. My Atlantic Blue Tang has befriended the bigger one and has begun helping his friend by blocking the bully's path once they almost reach the corner. This tank is 8 ft. long.
<Ahh, large enough>
The bully is not chasing the bigger one away from just one area he's claimed. He chases him away from all over the tank. I hate this. I spent so much time researching fish dispositions for this very reason. Heck, that's why I
didn't get a Queen or Passer Angel, or Clown Trigger for that matter! I saw here where you warned that 2
Black & White Heni's will butt heads for awhile to establish dominance, no real body damage to each other.
But they eventually learn their roles and live peacefully. Is the same true for these Red Sea Butterflies?
<Usually, yes>
All fish are different, no one behaviour is guaranteed, but just in general....will the bully finally realize he won? And can these two beauties eventually live together peacefully? The bully is so small, I cannot get him out. I'd consider rearranging the rockwork, but its not a one spot territorial issue. Its the social dynamic of one dominating the other. Do they grow out of it as they mature?
<In the wild, C. semilarvatus is almost always encountered in twos/pairs... occasionally in large/r aggregations. I have seen many times in captivity where having a small, odd number worked out better than twos or even numbers of individuals. Perhaps the "odd fish out" helps to diffuse aggression>
I'm afraid if I add a third one to keep the smaller one in check, it may backfire, and the bully will team up with the new one and really terrorize the 4" one to death
or illness. The other tank mates are:
2 cleaner shrimp
1 7" Atlantic Blue Tang
1 4" Flame angel
1 10" Emperor angel
1 2" Royal Gramma Basslet
Thank you for helping with this issue. My tank is so colorful and peaceful.
When these splotches of yellow whiz by it is so distracting and disheartening to see him get bullied. Everyone else gets along great.
<If it were me/mine, I'd catch out the bully and let it "have a time out" for a few days in a plastic floating colander in the tank. This often cures such behavior. Bob Fenner>
Re: Golden Butterfly dominance.
Okay, I will, thanks. Is it too late now to add a third one? Looks like the bigger one got ich now on his
fins from the stress of harassment.
<I'd hold off till there is no sign of Crypt. Try isolating the bully for now... consider, read re Quinines in the meanwhile on WWM. B>

Mac Angel/ Sem. Butterfly compatibility  12/20/09
Hey Crew, you guys are really helpful. Thanks. I have learned a lot about Cyano bacteria control and fish compatibility here. While looking thru the questions on Semilarvatus Butterflies I saw a comment by a crew
member other than Bob (Eric R./Anthony maybe?) that advised someone against adding a Mac Angel in with this butterfly.
<Hmmm, they, these species are found in close proximity in the wild>
Well, I have one of these, and was considering a Mac or Asfur. I love these angels for their coloring and hardiness. I saw that about a week ago, of course I cant find it in the questions section now. Why wouldn't the Mac work with the Semilarvatus Butterfly?
<Got me.>
My tank is 240 gallons. Thanks again.
<Should work out fine IMO/E... the Angel will eventually be "too large" for either standard shape 240... 8 by 2 by 2 feet or 8' X 18" X 30"... Will suffer psychologically at several inches in length, need larger environs to do well. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mac Angel/ Sem. Butterfly compatibility 12/22/09

Oh man, cool, thanks for the feedback. Yep, I do have that first tank dimension you described.
I'd hate to stifle any animal. I already have a harlequin tusk, a Scopas tang, a banana eel, in addition to the one red sea butterfly in there. I'll just stop where I'm at on the stocking list. I had to give away my French angel last year, it got too big.
I don't want to start one I can't finish, you know?
<I do>
I wish I'd gotten a taller tank though! You guys are the best, thanks.
<Welcome! BobF>

Golden B'Fly QT/ Bob, please   12/19/09
Hi Bob, you have helped so many with your book and WWM, thank you.
I have read your great article on the Golden Chaetodon semilarvatus Butterfly.
I see your comments to others here regarding these fish. I have ordered a pair from my LFS in Long Beach, Calif. They FW dip, methane blue bathe, and QT all new arrivals for a week in the darkened back room away from customers.
Some species they QT for 2 weeks, depending on the genus. I have learned from your book and WWM FAQ's that all new arrivals, once home, should be QT'd for 4 weeks.
<Mmm, some species, specimens>
I have done so in the past, always with great results. However, I see where you advised a lady to skip the QT for these particular B'flies, and you'd said if it were you/yours, you'd place in the DT right after the FW dip, mainly because they usually come in pretty clean to begin with. That I can understand.
My LFS advised me that they will be holding the pair for 2 weeks after the FW dip in their QT facility to help them acclimate to frozen foods and recover, as they can be a bit delicate in the beginning.
<This is so>
He said after those 2 weeks however, they are good to go. So finally, my question to you is, after I bring them home should I drip acclimate them for an hour or so, then place in the DT right away?
<I'd do the latter>
Or place in QT for another 2 weeks, then add to DT?
<Straight to your display tank>
I don't want to stress them more with another 2 week QT period here, but don't want to risk disease transmission either.
<Very small likelihood of this, given the species involved, the stated protocol employed by your LFS>
I have a 300 gallon, 8 ft. long tank, with a DSB and an attached refugium, including 5 fistfuls of Chaeto. Two AMS skimmers, a size 2 and a 4. It's been up and running for 3 years now. 200 lbs. of live rock. Clean up crew, a Tuxedo urchin, and a 12" Naso, named "Mama's Big Fat Sweet Girl."
No other inhabitants. After the 2 Goldens are settled in, maybe 3-4 months I will add a harem of fairy wrasses, and that will be it.
I want them all to have lots of space. You said that is one of the factors for keeping Chaetodon semilarvatus' successfully. I'm listening!
<Ah good>
Thanks so much, everyone's experience there really shows. I read through the articles and FAQ's every other day determined to learn more each time.
Your book is fabulous!
<Much good help with it/CMA and WWM. Enjoy your Blue Mask B/Fs and happy
holidays to you and yours. Bob Fenner>
Re: Golden B'Fly QT/ Bob, please   12/19/09

Wow, thanks for such a prompt and honest reply. I will certainly enjoy the new arrivals. Also, I have slowly been raising the sg up from 1.022 to 1.026-7 in anticipation of their arrival. I earned that from WWM as well. I have more of a reef type setting now, with overhangs, and caves like you have suggested.
Half a dozen Walt Smith pieces in place. Refreshing/rotating live rock from the refugium for them, as well. You all are fantastic!
<Excelsior! BobF>

Red Sea Butterfly Biotope ~ 01/12/09 Good afternoon. <<Greetings>> I have been diligently reading and enjoying your site for several months. <<Ah! Excellent'¦>> I have owned aquariums for 30+ years, <<Me too!>> but have recently decided to get into saltwater. <<Ah well, got ya there'¦[grin] I set up my first SW tank in 1977'¦ My first reef tank in 1989'¦ You're gonna LOVE saltwater'¦>> I want to create a specific biotope <<Best way to go'¦>> from the Red Sea, <<If you haven't already, do check out these links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rsbiotopes.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/redseafwgv1.htm >> primarily with butterflies. <<And this one: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bstbfsrs.htm >> This tank will be a FOWLR or at least I believe it will be. <<Indeed'¦ Butterflies are not good candidates for a reef system>> I have been told, but have yet to confirm, that a good butterfly tank should have a fairly large amount of live corals to keep the fish healthy. <<That depends'¦and isn't really practical in most hobbyist-size systems. If the species in question are obligate corallivores you won't be able to provide what they need to keep them healthy/alive, regardless>> The information I received is that the types of butterflies I want to place in the tank will only nip at the corals and consume the liquid which is excreted by the damaged coral. <<Mmm, no'¦ These fishes will consume coral polyps/flesh>> I plan on having 1 Raccoon, 3 Banner, and 1 Semilarvatus. <<All excellent choices for captive care>> The tank is a 135 with a sump. <<Hmm'¦ I think 'ultimately' this will be too small for this mix. These are not 'small' fishes. The Banners have the potential to reach 8-inches, with the Raccoon and Semilarvatus going for a couple more. If nothing else, there will likely be social/aggression issues'¦sooner or later>> Live rock will be around 100lbs. There are two large Protein skimmers built into the sump and a DSB. Do you have any experience which supports the claim that the fish need to consume this liquid from the coral to be at their best health? <<Have never heard such'¦ But have certainly seen and heard of them consuming coral polyps/flesh>> If so, can you tell me the best types of corals for this purpose? <<Some species can be very specific as to which corals they will dine upon while others will eat most any they come across. But what you propose is not necessary (or practical) with the fish choices listed here. Fortunately, the species you have chosen most always take well to prepared foods. And even if you could afford to keep up a ready supply of 'food' corals, the money would be better spent on a larger tank/system here>> Will the fish ultimately kill the coral? <<In the confines of a home aquarium, yes'¦ If the fish take to the coral as food, they will generally consume all, or at least to the point of the coral's demise>> Another question has arisen during my planning of the tank. I plan on keeping the tank at a higher salinity, due to the regional requirements of the biotope. <<That's fine'¦ And unless endemics, do also ensure your fish come from that region>> However, recently I have been reading the benefits of Hypersaline for initial fish introduction and other benefits. <<Hmm, I think you mean the other way around'¦Hyposalinity. And in my opinion not to be used on a continuous basis for the unnatural state/induced stresses re. Best to simply provide a pH adjusted freshwater dip and then quarantine at NSW levels>> Could I start the tank in this mode, then slowly move to the appropriate salinity, or is it better to start these fish at the Red Sea salinity level? <<The latter, for sure>> Thank you so much for your assistance. Erik <<Happy to share. EricR>>

Semilarvatus and corals   5/19/07 Hi WWM Crew, <Noah> Great site! I have learned a lot from your experience and knowledge. I have a pair of Golden Butterflyfish (Semilarvatus) for about a year now. They're doing great and have grown to about 6 inches each. <A great species...> I'm in search for a coral that will be able to withstand these ferocious coral eating fish. <Mmm... in a large enough system...> I have no illusion of having them in a full-blown reef system. But I desperately want to have just one or two kinds of corals in the system.  So far I have tried  Xenia and Clavularia and they chowed them down quickly. My search narrows  me down to 3 corals which I will try next: Sarcophyton, Sinularia and Cladiella, <Good possibilities> as I know these are some of the most noxious corals. (I may try mushrooms if all the above also fail). My question is of the 3 corals mentioned, which one is more noxious? Cladiella? <Mmm, likely the Sarco> Also Anthony Calfo said in one of his replies on this site that "Alcyonium species (often mislabeled as Cladiella) .... is one of the most chemically noxious corals that money can buy". I have the money ... hehe .... about  $50 more or less :),   but I can't find it anywhere on the net or my LFS. Are these hard to find? <Mmm, not really... ask your local LFS to order this in for you if you'd like> Lastly have you or anyone else on the web that had any long-term success with Semilarvatus with any kind of corals? <Oh yes... have seen this species around the world in large reef systems... and of course on many occasions diving in the Red Sea... on reefs> I have read a report elsewhere on the net that someone has tried but after a few months, the fish proceeded to eat "just about all" of his corals. What I would like to know is if anyone even had any success with just one coral with these fish? <Don't know about "just one coral" here... but have seen housed with all the principal Classes of Cnidarians...> Thank you and have a great weekend ahead... Noah <You've seen my piece on the species: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/semilarvatusart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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>
Re: Golden Butterfly  4/18/07
Mr. Fenner, <Just Bob, Kirk> Thanks for your reply.  I re-read your butterfly article. I am more confident that having this fish is a possibility in my tank (now am I bold enough to try a pair or just a single) <VBG>. <Ah, good> I have a list of inhabitants for my 370gallon tank: Golden Butterfly Copperband Butterfly (I don't know if a copperband and a golden in the same tank will work). <Should be fine> Emperor Angelfish Majestic Angelfish <Mmm, I would just stick with one large Pomacanthid here... and consider either a Red Sea Imperator... or one of the subgenus Arusettas...> Flame Angelfish Blonde Naso Tang Yellow eye (Kole) Tang Blue Throat or Pink-tail Triggerfish (very peaceful fish) Two Perculas clownfish Do you see a problem with this list? <No... other than the Angels mentioned> What changes would you make (if any). <I'd switch all to a Red Sea biotope theme... see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redseafwgv1.htm and the linked files above...> What order would these fish be added?   <More passive first... the trigger and large angel/s last> Thanks again. I look forward to your reply. Kirk <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 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>> <Agreed. RMF> 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>>

Semilarvatus Butterfly... Reef Compatibility    8/7/06 I just wanted to ensure that this e-mail was received.  I sent it about a week ago and I would assume it's floating around somewhere trying to find somebody with a sufficient answer - but my email is flakey so I didn't know if it got lost in cyberspace and just wanted to double check. <Believe this was replied to.> Friends at WWM, <Scott> Just one brief question - does anybody have any idea what corals in particular might be threatened by Semilarvatus Butterflies?  I am considering a pair for my 1300g reef, but would like to know exactly what kind of risk I would be running.  The tank has around 1500lbs of rock, two refugiums, and they will be kept very well fed. <Some folks say with caution, others, not reef safe.  They do feed on sessile inverts in the wild which includes many of the ornamental varieties we keep.  If it were my call, I would not chance it. James (Salty Dog)> Scott
Re: Semilarvatus Butterfly...Reef Compatibility    8/7/06
James, Thanks for the reply - was lost in cyberspace apparently. I was more curious what type of sessile inverts in particular they delight in consuming. <Anything that can't get away.:)  In particular tube worms, small crustaceans, soft and hard corals, may nip at clam mantles, etc.> It's fine if nobody knows, at the very least, I will try them out in a couple of smaller reef tanks and see what they go for and what they don't. <May want to read here and related links above for more info.    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Scott

Butterfly in the reef tank Hi Steven, The snippet below from one of your recent replies to me (different account) suggested a C. semilarvatus. It's a very pretty butterfly and I have been reading widely looking for reef tank safe butterflies. Your WWM listing for this species suggests it eats polyps and corals, though. I don't mind a little zoanthid nibbling and I don't keep LPS except for Euphyllias but is this one really a possibility for the reef tank? If the risk isn't too high I think I'd try it but I haven't previously seen it mentioned as a reef tank candidate. <Sorry, I did not pay real close attention to the subject line. The Semilarvatus is not a good choice. I made that suggestion to go with the rest of your Red Sea biotope fish.> As for the ones generally indicated as reef say, the Heniochus don't do anything for me but the long nose are pretty. <The two species of longnose BF's and the copperband BF are better choices.> Thanks! Marc <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> A longnose yellow butterfly or 3-4 yellow "Coris" wrasses for some yellow. (I prefer the butterfly though). Would love a pair but I've yet to see one advertised anywhere or in the LFS. <Get the butterfly. Maybe a Semilarvatus?>

Re: Golden Butterflyfishes Hi, A few days ago I emailed you about adding some Golden Butterflies to my 800 gallon Angelfish tank. After reading your comments and doing more research I went out and purchased 3 Golden Butterflies to be place in my 500 gallon reef tank. All three specimens are 4-5 inches in length. In the reef tank right now I have 400 lbs of live rock setup up in two large pillars that reach the water surface almost with swimming room in the middle of the tank (I kind of wanted it to look more like the outskirts of the reef with a collection of tangs ). I have various hard and soft corals, along with a few clams and so forth. The tank like my 800 was built on site and is glass not acrylic. It runs on two 90 gallon tubs/sumps and various other equipment that I have rigged up mostly. My reef keeping goes back about 5 years now so the tank itself is doing great. The Semilarvatus' were quarantined in a 75 holding tank in the filter room for about a day and a half. <Hmm, w/o reading further below, I would have left them there for a couple of weeks...> After they started eating I moved them to the 500 which contains the following for fish: Gold Rimmed Tang (nigricans a year old and doing well!) 4 in, Achilles 5 in, 3 Red Sea Purple Sailfins all 3.5 in, Black Longnose 6in, 5 Chromis, 9 Sunburst Anthias, various gobies and blennies, and the reason I came into saltwater my 9" Red Sea Sohal Tang. It was a nightmare getting these fish to coexist for the first 3 months but now everything goes well especially since I stumbled across such a docile Sohal and he kind of intimidates them but never shows aggression. I'll have to check my readings but I think my bioload is good right now. The 3 Golden's settled in and were accepted except by the Nigricans but his nipping soon diminished. My question is how big should I expect them to grow?  <Ultimately plate size (yes, several inches)... but quite slowly... an inch or so per year> Also should I worry about my corals?  <Not much. Chaetodon semilarvatus are omnivorous, can/will eat SPS polyps at times, but generally prefer other foodstuffs> The fish get tons of food because my system is so efficient but will they still possibly graze? <To a large extent yes... though these are quite hefty, active fishes> Is there anything else I should expect/worry about? I never realized how awesome these fish were until I had them in the luxury of my own home! Thanks again, I love your site! <Thank you, and no, not much to worry re... this is a fabulous aquarium species for folks with adequate space. Bob Fenner>

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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