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FAQs on Chelmon Butterflyfishes Behavior

Related Articles: Chelmon ButterflyfishesFoods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related FAQs: Chelmon Butterflies 1, Chelmon Butterflies 2, Chelmon Identification, Chelmon Compatibility, Chelmon Selection, Chelmon Systems, Chelmon Feeding, Chelmon Disease, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Using Chelmons as Aiptasia Controls, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease,


Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Chelmon rostratus sleeping behaviour; and fdg. insights       7/10/15
Hello crew!
<Hey Jeff>
I’ve been the happy owner of a Chelmon rostratus for the last three years or so now, and despite the initial headaches and concerns he gave me when he would not eat the first week, it would seem he has now acclimated well (I can share more details on my feeding menu and habits if you’re interested).
<Please do>

I have noticed, for a while now, that at night he is the only one who does not have a den to sleep in. looking over the internet I found one article that mentions that they sleep "on spot", meaning they stay in a low flow area and sleep while they swim. can you confirm this?
<Mmm; all the Chelmons I've come across during the night were sleeping, lying on the bottom near habitat... an overhang, stony coral... apparently in low current conditions>
if so this means he must have slept badly for the past 3 years, since I don’t have a special pump schedule at night.
Clearly if he is holding strong all this time it must mean that it's not much of an issue, but being a sleep lover myself I was wondering if it would be worth perhaps shutting down one of the two pumps during the night in order to give him proper rest.
<Worth trying>
Pump and system details:
450l mixed reef
one Tunze 6500 L/h that turns on for 10 seconds and stays off for 10 seconds and one Newave 9700 L/h that turns on for 35 seconds and stays off for 35 seconds.
I also have a 100l sump/refu with a return but the flow is minimal (its adjusted with a ball valve, and i estimate the flow to be around 900 L/h… but I have no numbers to back that up, the pump is a 950L/h) gut feeling would tell me to turn off the larger Newave but your input is appreciated.
thank you in advance
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chelmon rostratus sleeping behaviour       7/10/15

Thank you Bob,
<Welcome Jeff>
I make my own fish food every other month. I mix a pack of Nori, a couple garlic heads, 3 shrimps, 4 squid rings, varied clams and piece of cod together. i then place the goo in an ice rack, freeze it and presto! fish food stock for the next couple months. i feed one cube a day, half in the morning half mid afternoon.
<I see; thank you... No binder other than the ingredients above>
I was able to lure the rostratus to this mix by placing open clams in the tank, in fact its because of him that i add clams to the recipe in the first place.....now that i mention it i think it may have been you that suggested me to try open clams tu lure him.
<Could be>
regards Jeff
<Thanks again. BobF>

A Couple Of Questions/Linckia Starfish Health/Copperband Butterflyfish Behavior 4/7/10
Dear Crew,
<Hello Seth>
You have been really helpful in the past, I hope you can help me again with two questions I have.
<Let us give it a shot.>
One regards the Blue Linkia <Linckia> starfish I have; it was blocking the overflow with one arm the other day, and I wanted to get it to move, so I gave a VERY gentle nudge on the arm. Immediately the starfish dropped off;
apparently its' hold on the tank walls was very weak. I looked on the underside, having remembered reading that there can be parasites affecting the tube feet. I saw none, however, at 10X magnification. Now it is under an overhang, and I notice one arm is not holding on (see photo.) I see no other negative signs such as any deterioration on any part of the body. Any ideas or suggestions as to something to feed or do besides watch? It has been in the tank two months.
<Unfortunately, most true Linckias are short lived in captive systems due mainly from having suffered too much damage and neglect in the process of collection, holding, and shipping. You do not mention the size of your tank, but this species has a much better chance of survival when kept in large systems <100+ gallons> with plenty of healthy live rock for which to graze on. You may want to read here and related articles/FAQ's on the Blue Linckia Starfish. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/linckiastars.htm>
My second question relates to my Copperband; he has been in the tank about six weeks, eats "people" shrimp from my fingers and live brine eagerly, also Mysis though with less enthusiasm. The last two days, he has been
getting jumpy for no apparent reason, dorsal spines raised, and showing pale color all over. No one is bothering him, and oddly, he regained his color when I offered him food by hand which one would think would get the opposite reaction if anything. The only change is that I started adding Selcon to the food four days ago. Could he be getting too many vitamins?
Seems dubious, but there haven't been any other changes I'm aware of, parameters are stable, all excellent, and the other fish are behaving as per usual, corals and inverts fine, (except my worry above about the Linkia).
<Mmm, my initial thought here is stress. The Copperband does best with very peaceful tankmates, and any stress inducing fish in the system may/can trigger this behavior. As far as the Selcon goes, a couple of drops added to the food is all that's necessary. I'm not aware if too much Selcon in the food would cause this. Bob/Crew?><<Referral on WWM>>
Thank you in advance for all your help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Regards, Seth

CBB and CBS, beh.    2/15/10
Hello WWM Crew,
<Ryan... let's skip the acronyms>
I have searched your site and the internet for hours and have not found an answer to my question.
I purchased a Copper Banded Butterfly (CBB) from my Local Fish Store (LFS) last night and after 2 hours of acclimation with the tank lights off and only a floor lamp on to provide some nighttime light (as I do not have my
lunar LED's set up yet), my CBB swam out of the bag and went directly into a large cave on the bottom of my tank that my Coral Banded Shrimp (CBS) inhabits.
<Mmm... better to quarantine or at least dip/bath new Chaetodontids>
The CBB swam up to the CBS "broad side" until he was almost touched my CBS's head. The CBS gently pushed the CBB away from him with his "boxer claws" and the CBB swam right back to him. This went on for about 8-10
minutes then the CBB swam off to another cave. Was the CBB confusing my CBS as a skunk cleaner, or was he trying to dominate the area?
<Stenopids are non-obligate cleaners>
The CBB found a nice big Aiptasia (one of many) and started rubbing on it like a clown does to their anemone they are hosting.
After a couple of minutes of rubbing on it he took several bites of it an swam off. The LFS said to expect it to take several days, if not a week for the CBB to start feasting on all my annoying Aiptasia. Is this the normal behavior the exhibit prior to eating the Aiptasia?
<Not as far as I'm aware, no>
My third and final question: Is it normal for a Yellow Tang and the CBB to not get along?
<If there's room, yes>
My yellow tang nipped at the CBB's fins and tried chasing it to the other side of the tank. The CBB responded by ramming my yellow tang with it's beak. This morning when I woke up, my yellow tang was "puffed" up swimming
around my 120 trying to chase the CBB around. The CBB was still ramming my Yellow Tang every time he nipped at him. The yellow tang is about 4" long and the CBB is about 2.5" long. Should I be worried that this is going to
continue forever, or will they calm down after the "pecking order" is put in place?
<I would "float" the Zebrasoma in a plastic colander for a few days here>
My Yellow Tang has been calling my 120 home for 3 days. He was transferred from my 75 on Wed, so I would not think he has claimed his "territory" yet.
The 120 was purchased used from someone else, tore down and set back up at my house within the same day. I ran the 120 for 2 weeks with only live rock in it to do it's mini cycle from the move. I had my LFS do a water
test. Ammonia, Nitrates, and phosphates read undetectable. Nitrites registered at 5.
<Mmm, no>
Calcium was at 380 and PH was at 8.4.
After I moved my livestock, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 1 Scooter Dragonet, 2 mated green Clown Gobies, 2 O. Clowns, a sand sifting star, 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner, 1 Blood Red Shrimp, 4 Peppermints, and 4 blue/green Chromis, along with about 50 assorted snails and about 50 assorted hermits I had my water tested again. Nitrites were the only thing that registered, they we still at 5.
<... I suspect you mean NO3, Nitrates>
A 30 gallon water change is pending for tonight. I use IO Reef Crystals at 1.024 with the water temperature at 72 degrees.
Thanks for the help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Copperband Butterfly: Scarring Formative Moments - 6/30/08 Copperband Butterfly fish Behaviors Hey Crew I have recently purchased a Copperband butterfly fish which was doing very well at my LFS at purchase. (Eating, behaving well) I brought him home and he did the exact same for a week, as he ate and got along well with my other fish. <Okay...> I think I may have made the mistake when I decided to get another Copperband, <...yes.> which the instant I put it was picked on by the existing one. I immediately took him back to the store and things calmed down in the tank. Since that day, the existing Copperband slowly stopped eating, and began to shake him head sideways as if trying to get something off of his head. I checked the water quality and Nitrates, Nitrites, and ammonia were zero, and other parameters seemed normal. To this day, it has been three days and I haven't seen him eat like he did and today ignored anything I put in the tank. Could this shaking of head suggest presence of parasites, or even the flukes? Tank mates includes angels and tangs and it is a 180 gallon aquarium. <This is stress- it has only been three days since a very traumatic experience for this fish. I would wait patiently, and normal behavior will hopefully return> Thanks in advance. <No problem. Benjamin>

Shy Copperband  Hi Bob !  I was wondering if you could shed some light on some trouble I am having with a Copperband butterfly.  He will only feed and "roam" the aquarium when there are low light levels (i.e., dawn and dusk) when he can  be seen picking at the live rock. He hides all day long deep inside the live rock the rest of the day. Is this typical of this species?  <Hmm, not really... that is, in the wild I've seen them out and about most all the daylight hours... always near reef-cover though.> He was around 5-6 inches when I bought him and he was in really bad shape with open wounds and ick. Thanks to my many cleaner  shrimp he looks to be parasite free (no more scratching and swift erratic swimming). Also, due to the high water quality and many good hiding places, the open  wounds have healed and he looks generally healthy other than the "daytime hiding".  <Glad to hear of the specimens recovery... maybe this at least partly explains its "shyness"> I really would like him to "stretch out" and enjoy the rest of the tank...Is he maybe just getting used to  his new home ? I have had him in my tank now for about 6 weeks.  <Oh! Yes... six weeks is very little time for thorough acclimation... If this Chelmon is readily feeding it will rally, even learn to eat from your fingers in time...> I have a 300 Gallon Reef aquarium with plenty of hiding places and water quality as follows:  Salinity: 1.025  Temp: 78 degrees controlled via Aquadyne Octopus  Nitrite: Never had a trace  Nitrate: Never had a trace  Ammonia: Never had a trace  Calcium: 300 and increasing (using K2R Calcium Reactor)  Alkalinity: 10 to 12 dKH  Filtration: ETSS 1400 Gemini Protein skimmer, 550 lbs Live Rock,  6" Live Sand Bed  Fish<es>:  1 Yellow Tang  1 Longnose Butterfly  2 Ocellaris clowns  1 Clarkii living in a Haddoni Carpet  2 Banggai Cardinals  2 Fire Gobies  1 Sunrise Dottyback  1 Regal Tang  1 Copperband butterfly  2 Green Chromis  thanks,  chuck Spyropulos  <Sounds like a very nice system. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Shy Copperband
Bob, Thank you for the prompt reply ! Pictures of my tank are at www.chuckspy.com if you are interested. (I really need to update the pictures and the site) <An ongoing adventure, for sure> Again, thanks for your words of wisdom...oh yes...I really enjoyed reading "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and refer to it quite often. Happy Holidays Chuck Spyropulos <Ahh, glad to hear my efforts are useful. And good holidays to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

- Fish Acting Oddly? - My son recently acquired a beautiful healthy copper-band. To night he seemed to be staying near the surface of the aquarium, swimming horizontally and then rapidly swimming around in a circle and then back to the horizontal swim. Is this the behavior of a dying fish or is he just showing off to the other fish in the tank? <Hard to say - I have a butterfly fish that just recently decided it like to swim upside down... I have no idea why.> The yellow tang is not bothering with it, and the clowns, damsels and other fish seem to be fine with it also. He has had the fish for one week now and we are really hoping it struggles through the adjustment of a new tank and not working on his last few moments of life. <Without more information about the tank and system, it's hard for me to say much more than this: fish do this sometimes, and it's very hard to know the motivations of any fish. If the other fish are otherwise fine, this fish could still be adjusting to its new environment - it often takes up to a month, sometimes two before a fish feels comfortable, or perhaps resigned to its new confines.> Any suggestions? <Give it time.> Oksana <Cheers, J -- >
- Fish Acting Oddly? Follow-up -
Thank you for the reply. Our Copper-Band seems to be fine and doing well. We'll give him time and see what happens. Happy New Year. <Sounds really good. Happy new year to you as well.> Oksana <Cheers, J -- >

Copperband Butterfly Behavior Hello, My newly acquired Copperband butterfly spends a large portion of his time swimming up and down with his nose against the glass on the left side of my aquarium. Otherwise he seems to be healthy. He looks good and spends some of the day grazing. He also eats pretty well. Me eats Mysis shrimp since he ran out of Aiptasia. Is he hungry? lonely? bored? itchy? Is there anything I can do to make him happier? Right now he's in my 55g reef, but I plan to move him to a 240g reef once its ready.  Do you think that will help?  <Well Justin, its not normal behavior for a fish to do that. As long as he is eating, you've won half the battle. Butterflies do appreciate very clean water. For starters (and in any marine system) do a 10% water change per month. You may want to try using some Chemi- pure in your filter. Something about this filter media that actually calms fish down. I've had a watchman goby for two months. Rarely ever saw it. After about a week with Chemi- pure he readily comes out at feeding time and noses around more so than he did before. May be a coincidence, but I have seen this trait before. James (Salty Dog)> 

Copperband what?  - 1/30/2006 Hello Folks,<Hello Tom> Great site and thanks for the input. <Output, and thank you!>  For what it is worth, although you all never ask, I do make small contributions via Amazon Honor System with each question, it is the least I can do. <And is very much appreciated.> Anyway, I have recently introduced a new addition to my tank. Current setup: System one year old but recently (one-month) broken down and moved. 90 Gallon Rectangle Oceanic 100 lbs Live Rock give-or-take 100 lbs Deep Sand Bed (sloped back 6" front 4") give-or-take 460 watts of light VHO and PC (Actinics and White) A variety of Softies, Bubbles, leathers, Devils Hand etc... Some Chaetomorpha for nutrient export An ASM G2 Protein skimmer I also use a few tablespoons a week of Kent Phosphate Sponge (phosphate levels are immeasurable) RO/DI water for top-off <So far so good.> 1- Yellow Tang 4 Inches 1 - Damsel (There were two but one didn't survive the move) 2 - Cleaner Shrimp 1 - Coral Beauty 2 - Ocellaris (sp?) Clown Fish 1 - Blenny After a near three week Quarantine (yeah I know your gonna say should have been another week or two) <Not bad, 28 days much better.> I decided to move my newest addition a Copperband (CB) into the main tank. He was eating and seemed happy, more-or-less but my QT does not have any live rock to pick at and he started to just stay in the corner a lot. <A very difficult fish to acclimate.> Soooooo, I moved him to the main tank. One of the first things (within a couple of minutes) the CB did was go up to one of the cleaner shrimp and got a complete detail, amazing but I digress. His purpose is simple KILL AIPTASIA. After the first 24 hours (which is at the time of this writing) the Copperband is relegated to a corner of the tank by our friend the Yellow Tang who summarily chases the CB off whenever he ventures out into the aquarium. <Not unusual.> Drawing on your experience, what should I expect - Will this lessen over time? <It should.> If so how long before the Tang cuts the CB some slack or in other words socialized themselves? <I'd say things should improve within a week.> Should I be concerned for the CB? <I'd sure keep an eye on things.> How can I help supplement feeding for him as he doesn't come out when I feed the other inhabitants (usually Spirulina + Some Cyclop-eeze or frozen treat like Brine, Mysis, Sea Algae etc...<If he is eating the Cyclop-eeze this may work, if not you may try feeding some live brine.  Stocking order is the problem here.  Sensitive fish like the CB should really be introduced  first.  It's tough enough acclimating them without adding aggression to the problem.  May want to leave the lights off for a couple of days.  This may lower the aggression level of the tang.> As always, thanks a bunch you guys are the best. <And thank you.  James (Salty Dog)> <<I'd remove the Tang for a week or two... to elsewhere. RMF>> Tom 

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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