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FAQs on Longnose, Genus Forcipiger Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Longnose Butterflyfishes,

Related FAQs:  Longnose Butterflyfishes in General, Forcipiger Identification, Forcipiger Behavior, Forcipiger Compatibility, Forcipiger Selection, Forcipiger Systems, 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
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hawaiian Forcipiger longirostris Collected / Not eating     11/26/18
I recently collected a YLN Butterflyfish.
<Hey Sky! Thought Forcipigers... oh, I see your comment below>
Yes, the Long, Long Nosed. No easy feat with he aquarium ban here in Hawaii, free diving and free-netting, on a single breath, approx 2 min breath holds. It took me a couple hours but I finally got one. I treated him as gently as possible and he has been in my tank for about three weeks now. Originally he was getting picked on by a Yellow Tang in my outdoor sump, so I transferred him to my display, where he’s been for about a week. Still he hasn’t eaten. I’ve afforded all the usual suspects and everything suggested here, like Mysis shrimp and my own food pasted onto a rock. He also hasn’t touched my Aiptasia, one of the reasons I got him.
<A Raccoon BF would be much better for eating Glass Anemones>
I haven’t however offered anything live because I don’t know where I can get any live shrimp her on Hilo side of the Big Island. I did begin hatching some Brine shrimp out of desperation. They are still too small to feed. The only thing I can think is the very small, almost unnoticeable tuft (possibly fungal) on the top end of his snout. Otherwise he seems perfectly healthy. If he doesn't eat soon I feel I should take him back. ;-(
Any hail Mary ideas?
<Mmm, three weeks.... I'd return the fish, look for a Raccoon>
Oh Aquarium parameters are near perfect ;-) MAHALOZ!
In Gratitude,
<A hu'i hou mate. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hawaiian Forcipiger longirostris Collected / Not eating    11/28/18

Okay, I’ll prob take him back.
<I've done this; in Hawaii and elsewhere, a few times... whole wholesale set ups where the livestock wasn't fit to sell; better to return it to the sea>
I guess some YLN Butterflies, if too big when captured just don’t start eating?
<Yes; this is so. BFs in particular get bumped on their mouths easily... and olde ones are set in their ways>
Perhaps I shall try again with a smaller specimen and have better luck. I had a couple Raccoons but worried about them eating my corals and Shrooms a friend gave me frags of.
<Mmm; maybe another smaller Forcipiger of either species; but am a big fan of the two species of raccoons for the job.>
In Gratitude,
Sky Kubby
<Cheers Sky, BobF>

New Forcipiger not eating Hi Bob, I was just wondering , I have just bought a yellow long nose butterfly and he just doesn't want to eat . I have tried every thing except frozen foods . I have heard that I can feed them clams but I am just not sure of what to do , please help. PS: I was also thinking of what an "undulated triggerfish" would might eat. He is about 3 inches long and a green color. Thank you, Adam P. >> Concerning the Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger spp.), not to worry too much. As you state, you've just gotten the specimen. Have patience. Though these two species seem delicate, they're not. And as long as the individuals mouth is not damaged, it should start eating within a few days. Most all types of foods will do... Having some live rock around for it to nibble on is great. The Trigger will eat most everything... including other, more docile tankmates... Think hard and long before getting one of these. It may well attack the Longnose when it gets bigger. Bob Fenner

Weaning Longnose Butterfly Hello, <Hello!> I recently purchased a Longnose Butterfly and put him in a 15 gal. QT tank with about 15 lbs of live rock.  It will eventually be moved to my 75 gal. with about 100 lbs of rock.  It was being fed live brine shrimp at the LFS, <Fish love it...Aquarists hate it! Little to no nutritional value even when enhanced with vitamins> but I want to feed more nutritional foods such as frozen clams, enriched brine, etc.   <Skip the brine completely> So far the longnose has ignored all of my offerings, but it has been picking things off of the live rock.  I worry that the little rock in the QT tank will not sustain him for long.  Do you have any suggestions for weaning him onto the frozen foods?   <Try some Mysis shrimp. This worked perfectly with my butterfly. Also try a fresh open clam or oyster. Take a look at the fish's snout...see how small it is? Food must be able to fit in this little mouth. Be sure to feed small pieces> How long can he go without eating before it becomes critical?   <Depending when he was last fed, two to several weeks at least... if there is ample LR in the tank> I have seen him mouth the frozen clams, but apparently not eat.  He appears very healthy - robust body, with clear skin and fins. Perhaps I should move him to the 75 with more rock? <You don't say how long you've had the fish. If it's only been a few days, I wouldn't worry. Keep trying different things> Thanks for your advice, <The pleasure is mine. Try lots of different small food items. He's been spoiled with those silly brine shrimp. David Dowless> John.H

Weaning Longnose Butterfly: Mysis shrimp worked! Thanks for your response.   <You're more than welcome!> I'm happy to report that my Longnose Butterfly has taken a liking to Mysis shrimp.   <Yippee! I'm glad to see that I was able to help!> First he tried just one, then about 10 at the next feeding! <Give it a few days and try some other meaty things. Just remember, a small mouth can only eat small pieces of food> Thanks again, <You're welcome! Take care! David Dowless> John.H 

Bulimic Butterfly? >Hi Crew, >>Hello Greg. >I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.   >>Around here, there are many things that make me wonder.. so yes, it was indeed "wonder-ful".  ;) >Amongst many other things, I am certainly thankful for the wonderful service you provide at WetWebMedia! >>You're welcome. >My question of the day is about my Longnose Butterfly.  It seems to be wasting away.   >>Indeed, by the pics it doesn't look entirely healthy (from what I can see, anyway). >Although it did eat a bit during the first few days in my QT, it then developed what appeared to be Cryptocaryon.  After receiving a freshwater dip, it developed a severe case of fin and tail rot.  I have been treating with CopperSafe and, beginning six days ago, I began treating with Maracyn 2.  The ich and find rot both appear to be well under control now but, prior to beginning antibiotic treatment, I no longer noticed this fish eating.  I can now see the fish's ribs and, although this is my first butterfly fish, it appears to be emaciated to me.  I though I had lost the fish after the freshwater dip since its eyes had clouded and appeared to have a large bubble in each pupil.  It had also lost all sense of direction and coordination.   >>This behavior is often seen during freshwater dips. >It would float listlessly on its side, sometimes turning upside down.  This fish's strength, balance and overall appearance have since recovered remarkably well.  It is now an aggressive swimmer with clear eyes and it is regrowing its fins.   >>That's good to see, they do appear raggedy, now I know they're on the mend. >On the downside, I am beginning to see red through its gill covers as it gets thinner daily. >>I noticed that immediately. >I have attached two pictures, trying to show this redness of the gill covers but the pictures do not capture this appearance well. >>They seem to have captured that bit fairly well, but I seem to see what appears to be whitish areas over the eyes.  Eyes, clear, fins, appear to be clear (and on the mend), mouth appears undamaged. >Please give me you opinion of the fish's appearance in the photos and provide any suggestions for getting this fish to eat again.  I have tried Formula 1, flake food, Spectrum Thera A+, brine shrimp, zooplankton, Nori and now a fresh clam.  Although the fish points its nose at the food as if there might be some initial interest, I have not noticed it taking a bite of any food and it does continue to appear extremely thin. >>I strongly suggest bloodworms and live mysids (if you can get them).  Other than that, water changes to keep quality up, watch for white(ish), stringy feces (sign of internal bacterial infection).  If you can find a source of fresh micro-crustaceans (think "pods", those that you would find crawling all over live rock and the like), these might entice the fish to start eating as well.  See here for typical wild diet: http://www.fishbase.org/TrophicEco/DietCompoSummary.cfm?autoctr=2202&GenusName=Forcipiger&SpeciesName=flavissimus (Which is why I think bloodworms may entice him.  Also, observed most butterflies being fed b-worms at LBAOP.)  Another, more grim, consideration, concerns where and how the butterfly was collected.  It is well-known that certain regions have a tendency to offer fish collected and/or exposed to cyanide.  If this is the case with this fish, the gut lining will have been destroyed, thus making absorption of nutrients impossible, even if the fish were eating.  Let's keep our fingers crossed, as Forcipiger flavissimus is found in a huge area around the Pacific. >Water parameters: Salinity: 1.0235 S.G., Temp = 78 Degrees F, Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 15 PPM, Cu++ = 2.0 PPM, 20% water changes every 3-4 days. >>Unless the fish is showing signs of virulent C. irritans infection, I would stop the copper treatments, hyposalinity should be sufficient at this point (I saw no latent/obvious signs of ich in pics).  Your water quality is good, but hyposalinity is in the range of 1.007-1.010-you would likely need a refractometer to measure this low range.  If the Maracyn II doesn't give you the desired results after a week to ten days, then consider changing over to Spectrogram. >Thank you for the help! --Greg >>You're welcome, I do hope this is helpful.  Marina

Bulimic Butterfly >Thank you for the help Marina.   >>You're welcome. >I bought some Mysid shrimp today and tried to get the Forcipiger longirostris to eat these.   >>Are you sure it's F. longirostris?  By your pics (as I recollect), I was fairly certain you have F. flavissimus.. in any event... >Although all the other tank mates loved the mysids, the butterfly still did not eat.  Each day, this fish's fins continue to improve dramatically but it's gills continue to redden and it continues to grow thinner from this hunger strike.  I do have dried bloodworms I occasionally use to feed my freshwater fish.  Would these work to feed the butterfly?   >>I honestly don't think they'll stimulate him the way live would. >I assume the bloodworms you recommended are either frozen or live. >>Live. >Regarding hyposalinity, you recommended removing the copper if there are currently no signs of virulent C. irritans.  There are no apparent white specks on any of the fishes now (after 1 week of freshwater dips and Cu treatment) but, due to the lifecycle of Cryptocaryon, I thought it is necessary to maintain Cu in the system for a minimum of two weeks (preferably four weeks) to eradicate the Cryptocaryon theronts as they become free-swimming.   >>This is indeed normal protocol.  But I wasn't positive of timing. >Are you saying hyposalinity will serve this purpose instead of using copper treatments? >>Hyposalinity is often the first choice for many hobbyists, instead of copper or formalin treatments.  That is not to say that ich cannot withstand it, you'll be MUCH more certain of eradicating it with copper than with hypo.  However, if you ascertain that it may be the copper that's causing this butterfly distress, then you might consider using the hypo instead of copper.  One reason I say this is from my observations in the quarantine and treatment area I worked in at the Long Beach Aquarium--they NEVER used copper on their butterflies, though they regularly coppered their tangs and Pufferfishes.  They preferred to use formalin on the butterflies, and I never observed hyposalinity being used (though, in my opinion, it is quite useful).  This is also where I observed the butterflies being fed the bloodworms. >If this is the case, at what rate to I need to drop the salinity to 1.007-1.010?   >>It should be done over two to three days. >I assume this would need to be a very gradual change to prevent further stress.   >>Yes. >How long should the tank remain at 1.007-1.010 S.G.?   >>A 4 week regimen is perfectly acceptable, permanent status is not. >Based upon the apparent stress I have noticed from fish while giving them a freshwater bath, I assume this minimal level of salinity would be stressful to the fish as well.   >>Not as stressful for most marine fishes as you might think.  Notable exceptions would be Mandarin gobies. >I assume, when moving the fish to the main tank, I would need to increase the salinity at the same rate it was reduced -- correct?   >>Quite correct. >I also have several other fishes in this 55 gal QT as well (3 ocellaris clowns, porcupine puffer, powder blue tang, purple tang, flame angel, lawnmower blenny).   >>Holy cow!  I must say, you seem to be planning on introducing QUITE a few fish into the main at the same time, I don't know that I could recommend that.  Have you established your nitrifiers fishless?  And are you certain that you have sufficient colonies?  And last, but not least, I'm hoping that these animals are going into something the size of, say, 180 gallons, or larger. >Are any of these fish more sensitive to hyposalinity than the butterfly? >>None are more sensitive (the flame is actually listed in fishbase.org as a brackish fish!), but the puffer would be more sensitive to copper. >Thank you again for all the terrific advice! --Greg >>You're quite welcome.  Marina
Bulimic Butterfly, III
>Hi Marina, >>Hello Greg. >Just to answer your questions and update you on my GOOD NEWS... My Longnose Butterfly is now eating very well!!!   >>Ah, excellent! >Interestingly, it appears to prefer my home-made fish food to the mysids (possibly because the home-made food is easier to fit into its tiny mouth).   >>Actually, I heard it through the grapevine that you're a VERY good cook.  How's your quiche? >As it turns out, I think high ammonia levels were causing the problems.   >>Oh? >Although my ammonia tests read 0 PPM, I was concerned by the slight cloudiness of the water so I bought another test kit.  This test measured 2.0 PPM!   >>HOLY VERYBADWORDFORPOO!!!  Sweet Christ on a crutch, man.. what was the first test kit so we can tell others to watch out?  And what kit did you buy? >I performed a 50% water change and added Amquel at double strength for the remaining 25 gallons of water.  Two hours later the butterfly was back to eating. >>Oh my gawd, that's amazing how fast the poor fish recovered, and thank GOODNESS you thought to check with another kit. >I feel terrible for putting these fish through such conditions but at least now I have an accurate test kit.   >>Yes, now a spanking is in order.  }:-D >Unfortunately, now my Powder Blue Tang has stopped eating for the past three days (since giving it a freshwater bath). >>Oi, now this fish, this is expected.  They're quite picky, as well as rather delicate, given to attacks of "the vapors".  Nori, anyone?  This is one instance where I will suggest garlic, many, many folks believe that it works well as an appetite stimulant.  Even if it's not, I don't believe it will hurt to give it a try.  Of course, a few days to recover from that high ammonia (not so surprising in such a small q/t) may be all that's needed for him. >Regarding the exact type of longnose butterfly, mine is a solid bright yellow on the entire body except for the face, which is black on the top 1/2 and silver on the bottom 1/2.  According to the captions at fishbase.org, this is listed as F. longirostris, whereas F. flavissimus' body was silver with orange stripes.   >>I have never seen F. flavissimus silver with orange stripes, Greg.  The reason these fish are often so easily confused is that the only significant, easily observable difference is the length of the snout.  I feel that yours is clearly F. flavissimus.  Here are the two links from fishbase, open up each in their own window then click back and forth between them and you'll see, they're IDENTICAL except for that (body structure is slightly different between them as well, with F. flavissimus being someone less oblong). http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=5585&genusname=Forcipiger&speciesname=longirostris http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=5584&genusname=Forcipiger&speciesname=flavissimus Of course, if you REALLY want to nail this down, count the dorsal rays.  <insert another evil grin here>  Other shots I have in my own library of these fish show ONLY the length of the snout being different. >Maybe I misinterpreted the pictures... >>Hhhmm.. I'm not sure what pictures you saw, as you'll see by the links.  Neither fish is striped, though your description matches Copperband butterflies. >Yes, my 55 gal QT is a bit crowded now with all these fish but, after 4 weeks, they will be moving to a 180 gal tank that has been setup for nearly nine months now.  The live sand in this main tank is crawling with 'pods and the wet/dry filter has contains about 5 gallons of bio-balls that are teaming with nitrifying bacteria so (at least I hope) these additional fish will not be seen as a significant increase in bio-load to my main tank. >>A word of advice here, do NOT add them all at the same time.  If you feel you must do this, then I strongly suggest you get some raw shrimp in there ASAP, as you do NOT have sufficient numbers of nitrifiers to handle the fish load.  You must add enough to cause good peaks of ammonia and nitrite. >Now, if I can only get my Powder Blue to eat I would be in great shape! >>Indeed. >Thank you for all the great advice! --Greg >>You're welcome, again.  Have fun clicking the links back and forth.. I sure did!  Marina

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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