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FAQs on Longnose, Genus Forcipiger Butterflyfish Compatibility

Related Articles: Longnose Butterflyfishes,

Related FAQs:  Longnose Butterflyfishes in General, Forcipiger Identification, Forcipiger Behavior, Forcipiger Selection, Forcipiger Systems, Forcipiger Feeding, Forcipiger Disease, Forcipiger Reproduction, Chaetodonts: 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

Copperband and Longnose Butterfly Compatibility -- 07/22/09
Hi there,
<<Hey Aaron>>
You all are the best source out there for this hobby by far.
<<Thanks 'we appreciate the kind words>>
I have been looking all over for an answer but couldn't find anything.
Would a Copperband (about 3" healthy, been in the tank for about 2 months and the latest addition) get along with a new Longnose BF (Smaller, say 2-3").
I have a mildly stocked 125 gallon tank with live sand and live rock. If you need all the specifics I can give you them, but in general do you think this could work or would they pick on each other?
<<There are general rules of thumb, but 'compatibility' among fishes in an aquarium can be a very tricky thing. Many factors come in to play (e.g. -- size of the environment, availability of food, method/order of introduction, etc.), not the least of which is the individual 'personalities' and tolerances of the selected fishes themselves 'both of which often change with time and maturity. The size/length of the tank is to your advantage here, but adding the Longnose would still be a gamble. If you can remove the Copperband to other quarters for a couple days just before adding the Longnose, and then introduce/reintroduce both at the same time, you would increase the odds of a successful cohabitation. But either way, if you are prepared to remove one or the other should things turn too ugly 'I would give the Longnose a try with the Copperband
Thank you so much for all your help.
<<Is a pleasure to assist'¦ EricR>>

Longnose B/F Comp. Bob, I'm at my one year anniversary this weekend of setting up my reef tank. I read CMA three or four times before starting and received a lot of advice from you on FFE. So I would say my tank has your name all over it. I am very pleased with it. <Ahh, so gratifying to read that ones work is accepted, of use to others> Do you have another book I can purchase? I would like to have some new reading material when I go on vacation in June. <Yes... "A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Tropical Marine Fishes..." listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... and on Amazon.com... and a few others coming out... no time soon though> My other question is about a yellow long nose butterfly. Do you still consider these reef safe?  <Relatively, yes... If hungry they might sample polyped animals...> My tank has softs, hards, stonies and clams in it. Other fish include two clowns, six-line wrasse, Red Sea Sailfin, long nose hawk and a Potter's angel. The tank is 127 gallons with 150 lbs Fiji. What is your opinion of added one of the small long noses? <In this size, type tank, I give you very good odds of keeping and enjoying a Forcipiger Butterfly> Thanks as always, Steve <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Long-Nose Butterfly Hi WWM crew, <cheers, my friend> I am looking to add a Longnose butterfly if possible. <a wonderful and graceful fish. Hardy if kept with passive tankmates> I have 4 feather dusters in my tank and am not sure if he is safe with them. <he is... they just aren't safe with him <G>. You'll find that most "reef-safe" butterflies still cannot help but nibble on worms> I am also listing my other fish below and would appreciate if you could advise if this is something I should even consider doing. 1 Pyramid butterfly, 1 Red Sea Sailfin tang, 1 Fathead Anthias, 2 yellow Coris, 2 damsels, 1 Redfin fairy wrasse, 1 purple Firefish, 1 false percula clown, 3 green Chromis, 2 peppermint shrimp, 1 cucumber, a lot of snails and critters, 4 Hawaiian feather dusters and a lot of corals (popular ones). <overall it is good and peaceful mix. However, there is almost no chance that the sailfin tang will work here. They are extremely aggressive and territorial at times and even when not, their size and activity is quite intimidating to other passive fishes that simply get outcompeted for food. No compromise here. Also know that the Pyramid butterfly may not be compatible (hardiness or safety with invertebrates). All else is likely quite fine> This is a 150G reef with 30 G sump volume and 29G refugium. <a nice sized marine display for those listed> Total water volume is approximately 180G. All water conditions are kept within guidelines. Many thanks for your advise and help. Regards, Razi Burney <with kind regards, Anthony>

Long-Nose Butterfly Hello, I was reading your review and suggestions on this species and one question that I have is are they reef compatible? I have some Acroporas, colt coral, mushrooms, Xenia, Euphyllia and the likes. Will the Long Nose eat/destroy these? <It will likely nip/sample several of these. Not the best choice for a reef tank.> I plan on getting a Clam soon. Thanks in advance. Stig Larsson <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Long-Nose Butterfly eating Snails? Hello! <cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service while Mr. Fenner gets ready for Bobapalooza: a 20 state tour of aquarium societies and Mexican restaurants (sponsored by Imodium AD)> Yesterday I introduced a long-nose butterfly into my 75 gallon FOWLR.  <after a 4 week quarantine period? or have you not read enough FAQ's to know that I/we go out of out our way to get the message out (with sound aquarium science principles, occasional verbal harassments and rare literary wedgies) that QT tanks are crucial. Else... putting new fish without quarantine into an established display is literally playing Russian roulette with their very lives. Please do read more about proper QT in the archives. Do ask any questions about it afterwards if you like... very important stuff!> He seems to be doing fine; he's very active, curious and has been grazing on the live rock. However, I've seen him nip at my turbo snails several times (I think he even killed one).  <indeed uncommon/unusual> I cannot find anything on WWM or elsewhere saying that the long-nose will eat snails. Have I made a big mistake? <I think your butterfly simply didn't read the same books we have <wink>> Should I separate them? <if you confirm for certain that he is attacking... yes, please> Your advice would be much appreciated! Thanks! Jes <with kind regards, Anthony>

LONG NOSE BUTTERFLY G-day gentlemen, <Cheerio old sport...Anthony Calfo here... not fired yet, but working on it> Since I last wrote you I followed Anthony's advice and got rid of my yellow tang. It was constantly battling with my purple tang (obviously),  <yes, common... but a pity you couldn't enjoy them together as some do> and he was even starting to challenge my much larger centerpiece, favorite, Emperor. It hurt to let go of a gorgeous fish that was doing SO well, but it was in the best interest of all involved. <agreed> So I'm looking for a replacement now. I really love angels the most but I think my Emperor would not take kindly to that since he already chases my little Levi whenever he gets the chance.  <indeed, same interspecific aggression as the surgeonfish with angels> Anthony recommended a Fairy Wrasse (Flame), but my LFS guy said they're not that hardy.  <true about most, but flames are a noteworthy exception. Still... your emperor and purple tang are very tough fish... even "Levi" (Eibli/Red Stripe angel correct?) is a truly inappropriate mix. Shouldn't have been sold to you for this tank> I'll take your word, but I just wanted to run another option by you and see which you prefer. What about a long nosed butterfly?  <a big problem... could easily be the victim of the angel AND tang as butterflies are related. And while it is a reasonably hardy butterfly, it is comparatively made out of glass when it comes to feeding, assertiveness and aggression compared to the Emperor and Purple tang. You must realize that the are aggressive fish in a reef community. Any new tankmate must be dissimilar in shape and size (and especially feeding habit) to not incite aggression from the above mentioned bullies. I do not think that a Flame wrasse is the very best choice for a new mate... but is indeed much better than a butterfly. There are few butterfly species that should be kept by few people. If you still want a butterfly, consider a Raccoon that is eating well. They can be sturdy and aggressive fish. But again, with the aggressive tendencies of the Purple Tang and Emperor angel... all bets are off on any new fish> Conflict with the tang/angel? Those are the two that I'm pondering right now. Any preferences/ideas? Any other suggestions? <yes, alas...one other: none. The angel and tang get quite large and need a lot of space...even a 300 gall will not be big enough in the 10 year plan. And to not plan for these fish to live that long (which they can indeed double!) would be disappointing. Sorry to be the heavy <smile> With kind regards, Anthony> Thanks guys. Rick

Longnose Butterfly (Thalassoma Wrasse) Thanks Anthony, <very welcome, good sir> I kind of knew that would be your take on things.  <I have had a reputation as a bit of a marine Nazi...hehe> However I must VERY respectfully disagree with you on the compatibility of my Levi (Eibli) angel and my Emperor, and tangs. The tangs totally ignore the small angel and the Emperor only occasionally chases him as if he was a pesky fly or something....nothing ever malicious or sustained. The Levi merely gets out of his way and the confrontation is over. <I respect and appreciate the difference of opinion> Anyway, point taken on the butterfly and tank size. Trust me my friend, I know I will need to upgrade and I look forward to doing so.  <I believe it to be try... a wonderfully addictive hobby! I'm still thinking about sealing up the basement with glass doors and windows and just filling it with seawater...perhaps I'll cut a whole in the ceiling and view/service the tank via a PVC fireman's pole from upstairs...hehe> I'm going to avoid the flame wrasse and all butterflies as per your advice. However I "may" still add one more fish. Perhaps you would be willing to help me ID this fish. I'm looking at a smallish wrasse that they're calling a Paddlefin Wrasse? I can't find it on WWM, but it had the body of a Lunare (perhaps a slightly rounder face). It's white with about 3 navy blue-black horizontal strips. There is some red on the dorsal fin.  <Hmmmm... the Paddlefin wrasse as it is commonly known in the trade sounds nothing like what you describe. The LFS may have a mis-ID fish. Also known as the Cortez Rainbow wrasse or Mexican Rock wrasse...only the males of the species (Thalassoma lucasanum) are called Paddlefin. Do look up this species to see if we can rule it out. If your fish looks similar enough in type that you still suspect it to be a Thalassoma sp like T. lunare and T. lucasanum...then I would agree that it is not even close to being reef safe> My LFS guy says it's reef compatible but I'm not buying that just yet as it is certainly not a fairy wrasse. I don't have a reef but I do have a couple of cleaner shrimp. Do you know what this wrasse is and if so is it a threat to my shrimp?  <the shrimp are fair game for the Thalassoma and all larger wrasse genera> Thanks Anthony. Rick <quite welcome! kindly, Anthony> PS. My LFS would have had me keep the yellow tang AND add the wrasse and then some.  <yes.. they think they will make more money by selling more fish to folks in the short run, but the truth is that they will sell more fish to successful aquarists that don't struggle and stay in the hobby> I truly feel I can add another fish with no problem. I'm upgrading next winter. <I will trust your intuition and good husbandry>

Long Nose Butterfly & Reef Tank  7/19/04 WWM Crew, <Hi MacL here with you tonight> I have a 75 gallon reef setup and am considering getting another fish to liven it up. The Longnose butterfly (F. flavissimus), caught my eye, but I am concerned about its compatibility with the tank's current inhabitants (vertebrate and not). First off, are they compatible with corals. I've heard both ways on this, and wanted to know what you thought. <I think the reason for this is that they go both ways, they can be reef safe yet some of them definitely are not.> There's no tearing this tank down to capture a coral-eater, so It'd be good to know before it gets in there. I have mainly LPS with a few soft corals (mainly various leathers). I also have a clam (T. deresa) that is doing well. On the vertebrate side, I have a yellow tang, and I don't know if it would get along because of similar color/body shape. I also have a mandarin that's doing great, but I don't want it to starve because of excessive competition from the butterfly. <If you can't take it out and you think you might have to my advice is not to put it in.> Thanks in advance.  

Long-Nosed Butterflyfish Compatibility (7/12/04) Hi--I'm thinking about future livestock and one fish I was interested in was the yellow Longnose butterfly. <Forcipiger flavissimus. A beautiful, rather hardy, and generally peaceful fish.> Can you tell me if this fish would be safe with a Fromia star? <should not be a problem. Has been known to nip at tubeworms and the tube feet of sea urchins. Generally not a problem for corals either.> Are there any other inverts that would be at risk from it? <As above> thanks. <This fish is a nice choice with generally peaceful tankmates in at least 75 gallons. Do read and learn more from various sources. Steve Allen.>
Long-Nosed Butterfly Tankmates (7/15/04)
Thank you so much! <You're welcome.> Do you foresee any of the following being too aggressive for it?  Bartlett's Anthias, blue tang, flame angel or pygmy angel?  Tank is 125 gal. <In that size tank, None of these are really likely to be a problem. If you were to put one of the angels in, it should go in last. What else do you have in there now? Which of the blue tangs are you referring to? Paracanthurus hepatus? They can be a bit delicate and prone to Ich and HLLE. Still, a popular and cool fish. Bartlett's Anthias are beautiful, but are not among the hardiest fish. I have 3 (2 female, 1 male) that have been thriving for a year. They eat several times per day, so it's nice to have a lot of good live rock (same goes for angels). Bicolor Anthias may be a better choice. It's worth reading more about these fishes on various sources before proceeding. Have you ever seen "Marine Fishes" by Scott W. Michael? Very helpful. In any case, I'd let the butterfly get well-settled before adding some of these others. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Longnose butterfly with corals/compatibility/feeding   1/31/06 Dear James. Thank you for the really quick response to my skimmer question. <You're welcome.> For my new 180 gallon reef I would like to keep a long nose butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus) and a copper band butterfly (Chelmon rostratus). I have heard a lot of various opinions of whether they are reef safe or not. I don't want to get a fish that would eat my corals and clams. Also I heard that copper bands eat Aiptasia, but then wouldn't they eat other cnidarians? Any help would be appreciated. Sorry if I keep asking you more and more questions, but I can't help it. <Do read info on these before sending a query.  Read FAQ's on these subjects.  Answers can be found there.  http://www.google.com/custom?q=copper+band+butterfly&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com http://www.google.com/custom?q=long+nose+butterfly&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com Thanks. <You're welcome.  In future replies, do include original query.  James (Salty Dog)> Marcus     

Forcipiger flavissimus and Zebrasoma flavescens in the same tank 10/17/05 Greetings, Please excuse me if I have overlooked the answer. I've searched the site and have yet to find the answer to this question: Will F. flavissimus and Z. flavescens live peacefully in the same tank? Your B/F section indicates that the F. flavissimus should be introduced early in the life of a tank so that it may "stake a claim." Everything I've read about Z. flavescens says that it is a peaceful resident and warns that I should have only one to a tank. Since both of these fish reach approximately the same adult size, will the Z. flavescens be too aggressive for the B/F (another potentially large yellow fish competing for resources)?  <Mark, I would put the long nose in first, then a week or two later the tang. They should get along well. You may see the tang chase the long nose occasionally but no harm should be done. James (Salty Dog)> 
Re: For James (Salty Dog): Forcipiger/Zebrasoma compatibility 10/18/05
James,  <Dan> I read your answer to this question and have a closely related tale to tell. You gave me the same advice some months ago (no blame! all fish are different!) with unfortunate results.  We put a Forcipiger into our 120 gal FOWLR. A few weeks later, a purple tang was introduced (slightly but not hugely bigger than the BF), a transfer from another smaller (55 gal) reef tank that we have. The two fish got along great for a few weeks, and then the tang started "following around" the BF and occasionally nipping.  A few days later, we found the BF severely chewed (most fins gone) -- the poor thing died within a few hours. I am making the basic assumption, perhaps wrong, that Zebrasoma species all have about the same aggression levels. From what I read, the purple and yellow tangs are very similar in this respect. Was I mistaken? In any event, I would consider this combination risky in my (unfortunate) experience. We replaced the BF with a long-nosed Hawkfish, which the tang completely ignores. Mr. Fenner, if you're looking over James' shoulder (so to speak), do you have any experience with this combination?  <Yes, Mr. Fenner does review all/most answered queries. If need be, he will insert a comment here. All tangs are aggressive to conspecifics, but most, if not all do get along with other fish. I believe the purple tang is slightly nastier than the yellow tang. As you mentioned, all fish are different and an unexpected problem can arise. As I mentioned in the previous mail, put the Butterfly in first and get a foothold, then a week or two later, the tang. Being the Longnose does have some yellow color, there may be an occasional chase but no body damage should occur. You didn't reply to the original query, and now I'm thinking you mentioned these two fish were going into a 55 gallon. I know you mention a 120 above but this is related to a different event.  Anyway, if they are going in a 55, then I would choose one or the other as a 55 is too small to keep these fish together. My answer above is based on properly sized housing for these fish which gives them more room to roam resulting in less hostility. James (Salty Dog)> Just wanted to pass this on. Regards, Dan
For James (Salty Dog): Forcipiger/Zebrasoma compatibility  10/19/05
James,<Dan> The two fish were introduced into a 120 gal tank, BF first, exactly as you describe.  The tang had been living in an established 55 gal reef tank, but was quickly running out of room.  We transferred the tang into the 120 gal FOWLR a few weeks after the BF was introduced, much as you suggested. I am not doubting your knowledge or firsthand experience regarding the compatibility of Forcipiger and Zebrasoma species when introduced in the order and fashion described.  I just know that in *my* case, the results were unfortunate, and I wanted to pass that on to the general WetWebMedia community.   I hope no feathers (fins?) have been ruffled, as it was not my intent.  Your site, and Crew, continue to be a much-prized resource. <Dan, no fins ruffled.  This is what is unique among fish, humans for that matter also, is that certain individuals do not behave as expected.  The pygmy angel is another example.  Most I have kept are good reef fish.  Then again, certain individuals will pick on corals and clams.  Most are not after the meat but feed on the slime they generate.  Nonetheless, it causes the corals/clams not to open which degrades the health of the species.  James (Salty Dog)> Warm regards, Dan

Butterfly/tang compatibility 8/23/05 Hi there. <Hello Dan> I'm in the process of stocking a new 120 gal FOWLR.  I have about 200 lbs live sand w/plenum, 70 lbs live rock, EuroReef skimmer, 30 gal sump, fluidized bed filter, 1250 gal/min pump.  Light is 4x65 PC (2 actinic, 2 daylight).  Water parameters are "perfect" except for a slightly elevated phosphorus that is decreasing rapidly via PhosGuard. Current residents are a cute little (3") dwarf zebra lion, three small damsels (four-stripe and yellow-tail blue -- will likely be "fed to the lions", as it were), and a long-nosed butterfly.  All appear happy, especially the B/F, who has tons of personality. I'd like to introduce a tang, for algae-eating and just because they are cool.  Ideally a yellow tang, but I fear that he will attack the similar shaped/colored B/F.  A Naso would be great but I don't think I have enough room.  Would one of the other sailfin tangs fit?  The only other likely residents would be a Halichoeres ornatissimus (or something else from the same genus) and a flame angel (once the tank matures a bit). <Even though the butterfly has some yellow, it's not of the same family.  No aggression should take place outside of the usual "this is my tank" action that is short lived.  I personally would go with a sailfin than a yellow tang.  I think they are a little less prone to disease.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks much, Dan

Long Nose Butterfly 7/28/05 Hey guys, just checking in with a quick question I didn't see in the FAQ's. The common long nose butterfly: Forcipiger flavissimus, is it considered safe around Tridacna clams? Just another potential stocking scenario. I understand that they will eat frozen clam in small enough bites for them, but haven't been able to find any cases or experiences of whether they'll rip the pieces themselves off the live version. Thanks! <Personally, I wouldn't trust any butterflies with clams.  Some people have gotten away with it but the percentage is low.  James (Salty Dog)> Nick

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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