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FAQs on Raccoon Butterflyfishes

Related Articles: Raccoon Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease, Hawaiian ButterflyfishesDouble-Saddlebacks, Threadfins,

At right, a couple of Chaetodon fasciatus in the Red Sea .

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

Locally Caught Hawaiian Raccoon BFF; health concerns     9/16/17
Aloha Crew! Well it’s been awhile and want to let you know my fish and system is clear and beautiful after adding the outdoor 200G DSB / Tide Pool.
Last full moon I caught a 4” Raccoon BF and put in my established quarantine. The area I captured was residential and the water kind of dirty at the tide pools. She had ever so slightly clouded fins but sure enough began twitching a few days into QT.
I have another cardinal in the 20 Gal that I caught the same day, a 3in cowry a blend and a couple Hermits.
Having very little success with hypo, was hoping to feed him garlic, shrimp, not flake, etc, get my water coon strong and transfer to the 200gal sump to eat all the Aiptasia.
<Ahh; have seen glass anemones in the wild, diving in Hawaii>
It’s a bit of a double edged sword as I wanted to dip and put him right into all that great consistent water but then the risk of bringing something in nasty outweighed the reward.
I don’t have any quinine on me and honestly have not had luck in the past treating with chemicals. I know ice house broken out in my system before but now that my water quality is so good, I’m thinking it might be best to put this BF into the sump and let her just be healthy and over come whatever is making her twitch.
<Worth trying>
It’s been 2 weeks and I’ve kept the water very clean with 1/4 change every few days and a protein skimmer.
Still no white spots, just a slightly clouded tail fin now. Otherwise looks really healthy
I feel like I’ve read just about everything. Any insights into my situation? Mahaloz!
<I'd wait another week and then risk moving the Raccoon. Bob Fenner>
Re: Locally Caught Hawaiian Raccoon BFF    9/17/17

Thanks for the confirmation on moving my BFF in a week if all is good - that was my thought as well.
<Ah good>
However last night before bed I was observing her and saw she was covered in white dots. Assuming the Ich cyst cycle had burst I thought it would be a good time to give her a FW dip w trace minerals and ph buffer. I added crushed garlic to hopefully absorb more in her system.
<Sounds bueno Sky>
She seems to be doing better today and got her to eat raw garlic shrimp by letting an Aiptasia eat it and then offering them to her. She slurped em up off the coral rubble and is hopefully on her way to recovery.
<Tres bien! BobF>
Sky Kubby

Raccoon Butterfly/Aiptasia - Comp. Mushrooms / Leather Coral      8/28/16
I am seriously considering the acquisition of a Raccoon Butterfly fish to help naturally control Aiptasia populations in my 125 gallon tank (with 30+ gallon sump). I have been using Aiptasia-X with some success, but I seem to be losing the battle as new Aiptasia's pop-up, thus I am considering the employment of some natural help, i.e.; a Raccoon Butterfly (a very pretty fish that I've thought of acquiring before), to complement my work with Aiptasia-X.
However, this 125 gallon reef tank does have a nice population of mushroom corals (red's, blue's, green's, and hairy mushrooms), some leather corals (cabbage leather and devils hand) as well as a branched Montipora. Lastly, I have an green bubble tip anemone about 5 inches in diameter but who's extremely well guarded and hosted by a 4+ inch Clarkii Clownfish.
I've done plenty of reading on Raccoon Butterfly's and I fully understand that they enjoy eating anemone's (thus,  obviously my interest in them going after Aiptasia) and some corals. However, I am thinking that my Clarkii wouldn't let the Raccoon get any where near it's anemone buddy, so it might work? Your thoughts? How about the other corals? Would you see the Raccoon Butterfly eating and/or damaging them?
<I do give you good odds of the BF just eating the Aiptasia here. Bob Fenner>

Thank you,
Re: Raccoon Butterfly - Mushrooms / Leather Coral      8/28/16

You're awesome. Thanks so much!!!
<Just old, experienced. Cheers John. B>

Raccoon butterfly flashing       5/4/16
I have a juvenile (just under 2 inch) raccoon butterfly that I have had for almost 4 months now.
<Too small for collection, shipping>
On the surface, everything looks great. He eats everything in sight (even flakes) and comes to the top to beg every time I walk by the tank. When I do water changes he even picks at the siphon as stuff goes by. He is healthy enough he even completely healed up (no specific treatment, just good parameters) from a 1.5 cm laceration on his side he clearly got from rough handling during shipping.
The issue I have is that he flashes a lot. Not continuous, but every 5 min or so he will brush up against something, usually the sand on the bottom of the tank. This never causes any physical damage. Scales are all in tact.
Breathing rate is normal. If you don't watch long enough you won't know anything is going on. I am mainly concerned because I don't want him to be uncomfortable and Im not sure what to do now.
<Keep observing>
Parameters are all fine. Never any ammonia or nitrites. Nitrates always between 0-25. Overall everything is very stable. No other fish in the tank flashes and everyone seems to be doing ok.
I thought he might have had gill flukes so I tried PraziPro. In a way that seemed to help. He had been frequently presenting himself to the cleaner shrimp and seemed more bothered by his situation before treatment. The flashing does seem less frequent than back then (pretreatment) and he doesn't present to the shrimp anymore. After a 2 week break I tried two more courses of PraziPro but not change so I am just keeping the water pristine for now. Do fish ever continue flashing from residual inflammation after an infection (kinda like how people cough for weeks after a URI)?
<Perhaps. More likely something irritating re water quality>

Im concerned it could be an issue of space. He is small (around 2 inches)
and currently in a 29 gallon tank.
<Too small>

I am very well aware this is not ideal and this is very temporary. We are moving soon and setting a much larger tank (I have had a life-long goal of catching and raising my own juvenile Grey Angel and I am finally going to be in a place to make good on it). I decided to go ahead and get him now to control an annoying Aiptasia infestation (which he did nicely) that was driving my fiancé nuts.
If it could just be a space issue (psychological) I would be happy to release him to a local LFS. Until we actually move there is just no space for a larger tank in our current house. I genuinely want whats best for him and if temporary confinement in a small environment is too much for him I am more than willing to rectify my mistake. At the same time, I don't love the idea of transporting a fish who may well be dealing with a minor issue and tip him over the edge. Also, the guys at the local LFS are good guys, but they are still a LFS and, well, Im just going to leave that where it is...
I have a quarantine tank. I could move him and try copper or some other broad parasitic treatments but Im hesitant to treat empirically with a toxic substance unless an expert tells me they think its a good idea.
Could it be metal or some other low concentration toxin in the water?

I doubt it as I have several ornamental shrimp who are doing just fine (fire shrimp molts q2 weeks or so). Until recently I always used an RO/DI unit but the other half was not a fan of keeping 50 gallons of water in the wash room. I could try getting another unit and see if using better water helps.
Have you ever heard if MelaFix or anything "soothing" has ever help with this kind of problem?
<Garbage. Search WWM>

Bottom line, he is overall doing very well and I don't want to do something to mess that up. He's doesn't seem super stressed but does look somewhat annoyed. I really want to help him, just not sure the best way to do it.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Read the FAQs and came up with a winning strategy    11/2/14
WWM Crew,
I recently acquired a Chaetodon fasciatus. It had been readily eating some things (Nori, mysis, Softshell crab) but didn't seem to want to eat either shrimp or clam that I had minced up. Reading through the FAQ
about raccoon butterflies, I came across someone who said that theirs would eat clam from the half-shell, but not minced. This gave me a thought. These are fish that pick/nibble at things. Maybe my B/F would
prefer to nibble pieces off a large chunk of meat rather that eat small floating bits. I got a sturdy clip normally used to hold Nori and put a piece of clam in it. The B/F tore into it, and I watched to make sure
it was actually eating what it was tearing off, not just spitting it out. It did the same later for a chunk of shrimp. Thanks to that FAQ, I have a lot more variety of foods that I can feed my B/F.
Thank you for this wonderful resource.
David Kelman
<Thank you for sharing your experience... which is... what we do! Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterflyfish Sick? Stressed from something...  3/9/14
Hello all. I'm hoping you can help me with my new raccoon Butterflyfish, purchased one week ago from LFS. Color was good, he was very active at the store, eating well on frozen Mysis and butterfly/angel frozen mix, approximately 3-3.5 inches.  I brought him home and did a FW dip before putting him in the main tank (I did not QT due to some dissenting opinions on your site suggesting that QT isn't necessarily a good option for butterflies).  Tank is a 75g with approximately 80lbs established live rock and 3 in live sand bed, up and running for approximately a year and a half with a wet/dry filter.
<... what are your Nitrates here?>

 Everything was fine for the first few days, he continued to be very active and eat well.  However, approximately four days ago I noticed what looks to be some dark discoloration on one side of him, on the white band above his
gills. When I first saw it it almost looked like a small (app 1/8 inch round) abrasion of some sort, only was almost black in color.  Over the past few days the blackened area seems to be expanding to cover more of the white area. Also, I am now noticing some redness around the mouth and he has started some minor "twitching" (but no rubbing up against rocks, etc). 
  He is also starting to get less active and less interested in food. 
water levels are all fine, 8.1 ph, ammonia undetectable, nitrites 0, nitrates roughly 5 ppm.
<Have checked with another kit please>

I have a hospital tank ready to go if needed, but it is quite small (10g) and I don't want to move him (and stress him out) unless necessary.
<I wouldn't move this fish. Something IS wrong in/with this system... but what? The usual water changes, use of chem. filtrant media is advised...>
 I have never encountered symptoms like this (the black discoloration specifically) so I was hoping you could provide some insight as to what may be going on and what my best course of action is?  I am definitely not a "sick fish" expert so don't even know where to start on treatment! Thanks in advance for your help.
<... what other livestock is here? Is that blue-green algae on your substrate? Bob Fenner>

Re: Raccoon Butterflyfish Sick?   3/9/14
<... see WWM re BGA>

I tested nitrates again and still reading around 5 ppm. I won't be able to get a different test kit until tomorrow but will recheck then.  Other than the raccoon, I have one small (1 inch) black and white clownfish in the tank who has been here for about ten months.  He is showing no signs of anything amiss. I also have 5 turbos and a handful of hermit crabs. Yes, there is some algae grown on the sand in the picture I sent.  It is only in that one corner of the tank.

Raccoon butterfly-Reef Safe?       8/8/12
I have a 375gallon tank with mostly large angels in it.  I have a 6-7 large (dinner plate size) RBTAs, sandsifting starfish, cleaner shrimps and hammer and frogspawn.
I am looking at purchasing Chaetodon fasciatus from the Red Sea and want to know if this is OK or do you think it would do some damage to the few corals i have.
<... likely fine; a general zooplanktivore, though will pick at worms et al. benthic invertebrates of small size. See WWM re this Chaetodon. Bob Fenner>

Re: Aiptasia Anemone issues; bad C. lunula    2/9/12
After much thought I broke down and purchased a Chaetodon lunula. After quarantine I introduced him into the main display along with 3 reef Chromis to hopefully prevent too much aggression from the resident fish. Here is the one week update.
The C. Lunula has eaten every tube worm and fan worm it could find but has not yet picked on any of the Aiptasia (or the three BTA's). The cinnamon clown fish became even more territorial and began excessive sand excavation which irritated the Trachyphyllia located nearby. This seemed to attract the attention of the c.lunula who has now eaten a portion of the Trachyphyllia.
a) Can I save the Trachyphyllia? (5 years old and quite large)
<Cover it w/ a plastic colander, strawberry basket or such>
b) How much longer should I keep the c. lunula before coming to the conclusion that this particular specimen does not like Aiptasia?
<A week or two>
It is beginning to show interest in the Acanthastrea located at the other end of the tank though it hasn't touched any of the Palythoa, star polyps, or mushroom corals (I thought those were preferred).
<Mmm, usually just LPS>
The c. lunula is also feeding with the other fish on frozen foods though it has shown no interest in the flake or pelleted foods. I am seriously considering a tank break down at this point though a 7 year old 125 will be a more than one day project.
<But likely satisfying. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon butterfly and disappearing snails/Butterflyfish/Compatibility 12/5/11
<Hello Gail>
As an aquarist who still needs more experience, I think I've made a mistake, and would appreciate your opinion.
I have a young Raccoon butterfly - he's about 2-1/2 inches at most.
He eats with great enthusiasm and gets fed ~4 times a day.  I always feed a mixture of frozen foods, always containing Mysis, although he seems happy to eat anything.  He's also cleared out the few Aiptasia that were beginning to appear in the tank. 
We haven't seen much of any of our original snails for awhile - seemed we only had 3 or 4 left out of 12 - so two weeks ago, I bought a couple of Mexican Turbos.    (We're trying to control a bit of an algae problem).
Yesterday, I found one turbo dead - only recently, I think - he was whole in his shell.  I haven't seen the other one for a few days.   My question:  is it likely that the raccoon is the culprit?
<Possibly.  They have been known to go after snails.>
If so, is there anything I can do to avoid the problem, or should I just give up on snails?  (I'm not keen to give up the raccoon).
<If you are sure the Mexican Turbos you have are indeed the Mexican Turban, they can right themselves.  Other species of Turbo Snails cannot, so this may be a possible cause of death other than the Raccoon.  Turbo Snails can easily starve to death if an ample supply of food is not present.>
Thanks in advance for your opinion,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Best wishes,
Gail HL

Raccoon Butterfly cleaning  12/6/10
Good afternoon, I see after reading through the forums that its common/normal for a fish to want their gills cleaned. How normal is it though for a fish to open its gills and want a cleaning multiple times (dozens) a day almost every time he passes my Lunare wrasse?
<Not abnormal...>
There are no visible or physical signs of parasitic infestation. Ammonia zero, nitrates 20ppm, nitrite zero and ph 8.2. I'd like to hear an experts' thoughts on this.
Thank you
<Well... twenty ppm of NO3 may be irritating... But I'd likely add a "real"/as in purposeful cleaner here. Please read:
and the linked files above. Happy holidays. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Raccoon Butterfly cleaning  12/6/10
No offense to anyone at the crew but boy do I like when you reply to me.
I always get a solid, consistent and sure answer.
<Heeeee! If I've either not imbibed too much caffeine that day, or ethanol the night before!>
Thank you
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: re: Raccoon Butterfly cleaning, Crypt presence/omni?   12/6/10
Hahahaha! That's too funny. Bob, while I have you....am I reading the literature correctly that Ich really is present in all systems?
<Some folks believe so. I do not... though it is likely present in a majority, though non-symptomatic in most>
Basically from what I gather, its just a matter of it getting out of hand and uncontrollable based on the status of the fish's immune system.
Just want to make sure I am understanding correctly with all those "big" words.
<Welcome. B>
Re: re: Raccoon Butterfly cleaning, Omni/present Crypt  -- 12/08/10

Hey Bob, so if Ich is indeed present in majority of tanks, does that mean that when the fish resist it (with high immunity) they will not count as a host for the parasite and it will continue through its life cycle and die
<More likely that a "low grade", low presence is extant... Not enough to irritate the hosts show symptoms>
Not sure how to get it out of my tank without a fallow period or meds. All of my fish yawn a lot and on occasion itch themselves (not often though).
<Natural behavior; not necessarily indicative of infestation>
They just swim as if something is bothering them (no spots).
<Mmm, you may benefit from reading here:
and the linked files above.>
There are micro bubbles in the water on occasion and wasn't sure if that could do it. Your input on this matter would be appreciated....again lol.
Thank you
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: re: Raccoon Butterfly cleaning
Hey, I didn't understand the first reply in my email from you. You state:
"Not enough the hosts show symptoms....". Not quite sure what that means.
<... the infestation bioload is insufficient to produce macroscopic
symptomology... Maybe the word "that" between enough and the would make more sense. B>

Urgent - Raccoon Butterfly disease ID  11/24/10
Dear Crew:
<... four megs for one pic?>
I would like to ask your help identifying this disease (please see attached picture).
<Very bad news... extremely poor prognosis...>
I bought this Raccoon Butterfly 5 days ago. It started as a small spot on the scales towards the tail and I thought that he just scratched himself on the live rock but the spot is growing (it is about 3/4 of an inch
by 1/4 of an inch as of now) and it appears that he is losing scales where it's pinkish so I guess it's not just a scratch. Last night I put him in the plastic container floating in the main tank and applied Bio-Bandage Powder by Aquarium Solutions (active ingredients: neomycin sulfate, cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), binders and adhesion agents). It did not seem to get better overnight so I applied Bio-Bandage again this morning. Can you please let me know how often should I apply this medication for this type of wound?
<Have had very little success with these sort of bacterial breakdown syndromes... Culture work will likely find a number of gram-negatives... In the trade, extensive, high concentration "Furan" (cpd.) baths are at times efficacious... But almost all fishes at the shown stage perish>
Is there anything else I can do to help him heal?
<Not likely unfortunately>
Thank you very much for your help!!!
<I do wish I could give better news. Please read here:
the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Urgent - Raccoon Butterfly disease ID  11/24/10
Dear Mr. Fenner:
Thank you for your prompt reply! I called a couple of LFS trying to find "Furan" but they do not carry it and seem to have no idea of what it is.
<Ahh, Nitrofuranace is the more common/available of "Furan Compounds".
Sorry for the lack of clarity>
Is it sold under a different name or should I contact local pharmacies rather than LFS? I do have Metronidazole at hand. Do you think there is a point in trying to use it if I cannot get Furan ASAP?
<There is not... this is an antiprotozoal...>
If so, what concentration should I use and how often/how long a bath should I give the poor fish?
Once again, I greatly appreciate your help!
<Please use the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
re Furanace, baths... BobF>

Re: Urgent - Raccoon Butterfly disease ID  11/24/10
Dear Mr. Fenner:
<Just "Bob" will do Peter>
I was able to find it but, unfortunately, it was too late.
<Ahh... as usual>
By the time I got home he was breathing but already laying on his side. I proceeded with the bath but it did not help - to my deepest regret he perished a few minutes ago. Should I be concerned with my other fish catching this disease?
<Mmm, not so much... the etiology of this involvement is quite often "subject specific", or if a given species is crowded in poor conditions, already challenged health, species-specific>
The tank is an established (1 year +) FOWLR and all water parameters are good.
I never had any problems in this tank before but the perished fish was in the tank when I noticed the appearance of the spot and the plastic container that I put him in had tiny holes in it to allow for water flow between the container and the tank. Thank you very much for your advice.
<Welcome. BobF>

Australian CB in hiding, BF comp.  - 8/1/10
Hello...We purchased a healthy Copperband (4-5 inches) about 2 weeks ago for our 75 gallon saltwater tank. Our Raccoon Butterfly immediately was VERY aggressive with the CB and eventually the CB found an isolated hiding place in the corner of our tank.
<Mmm, there may not be enough psychological space for both BFs here>
The Raccoon Butterfly has slowly eased up on the behavior towards the CB.
The CB is eating fine. However, it stays confined to the corner of the tank. The RB is king of the tank and swims over to the CB's corner sometimes, but it is uneventful now. There are no other aggressive fish in the tank. The RB has only shown this behavior towards the CB and no other fish.
<They "occupy" the same ecological niche... are perceived competitors for food, room>
Will the CB ever start to roam the tank?
Or will it be a permanent fixture in the hidden corner. The CB does seems to rise to the top water surface in his corner (out of hiding) when the lights are off. But goes back low in hiding when the lights come on. Should
we just wait this out, realize that this is where the fish will stay hidden, or try something else? Thanks so much.
<If you had another established system I'd move one of these Chaetodontids to it... is there a larger tank in your, their future? Bob Fenner>
Re: Australian CB in hiding, comp.   8/4/10

The RB
<Raccoon Butterflyfish for browsers>
killed the CB 2 days ago. The RB had bit the CB so much, that exposed flesh was showing. Should we stay away from all Butterflies as long as we have the same size tank AND the RB? Thanks so much.
<Mmm, well... 75 gallons is not much for most of the family, but there are some species that are generally suitable, not as agonistic. Read here:

fish disease? Chaetodon lunula scratching, hlth., beh.   6/24/10
So much to read on your website, and I still can't figure what is wrong with my raccoon butterfly. I have a couple of Bob Fenner's books, too. The raccoon has been scratching on the coral, and shaking his head for months.
He's been quarantined, had copper treatment, fresh water baths, and still scratching.
<May be "nothing" pathogenically>
No visible spots. It seems to affect his gills or head the most. Our skunk cleaner shrimp works him over, but no help with that. The royal gramma just came out of copper in quarantine and is now dashing about and scratching on objects, also. The shrimp goby and Chromis are fine.
<Chromis are social animals... live in shoals/groups>
90 gal, Spg 1.023,
<A bit low... This could be "it">
ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates a trace, temp. now 80 (it's hot here!).
The tank is 9 months old, fish with live rock, shrimp and snails. Sump and protein skimmer. What can I do? Another fresh water bath? Sure hard to catch fish without removing rock!
Thanks so much for any suggestions. Edie
<I would leave this fish be... as it is. Some "scratching" behavior is common to most fishes, definitely Chaetodontids. Do you use chemical filtrant/s? Some carbon used on a punctuated basis might prove useful.
Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon auriga, comp.  -- 1/21/10
Hello, I was wondering if the Auriga Butterfly fish would be ok in a live rock fish only tank with cleaner shrimp and small blue legged Hermit crabs?
<Indeed it will>
Will that pick at the small blue legged crabs or my larger electric blue hermit crabs???
<Not likely at all. This species is almost exclusively an zooplanktivore... may eat small worms and other sessile invertebrates, but not likely Anomurans>
I was readying info on your site and it said they eat small inverts and was wondering how my hermits and cleaner shrimp will do with one....
<Should be mighty fine>
Thank you for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly Only Wants Bloodworms -- 05/08/09
I purchased a Raccoon Butterfly fish 4 days ago. Before I purchased him I asked an employee to feed him so I could see if he was eating. He dropped in a serving of mysis shrimp. The Raccoon would take one, grind it up in his mouth and spit out pieces of it. It appeared though that he was eating most of what he had in his mouth.
<<Mmm, yes'¦I have observed such behavior with my Copperband Butterfly, dismembering food items and selectively eating the 'choice' bits>>
I decided to purchase him as I thought he would be fine. Well, the only thing he will eat is bloodworms. I've tried Spectrum pellets, brine and mysis shrimp, and Marine Cuisine but he only has a taste for bloodworms.
<<Though Raccoons are a great aquarium species and generally take to a wide/wider variety of foods, it is not unusual for a fish's behaviors to change/be modified by the stresses of capture and transport. It is likely the fish will take to a broader menu once re-settled. And even if not'¦the Bloodworms are quite nutritious and along with browsing the live rock, can indeed prove sufficient. The Copperband I mentioned will only eat Glassworms and Mysis Shrimp'¦and has remained fat and healthy for nearly five years thus far>>
I do soak the bloodworm's in Selcon and Zoecon.
<<A worthwhile effort/supplement>>
When should I begin to worry that he is not getting a varied diet.
<<I don't know that you should>>
Should I just not include bloodworms in his feeding for a few days?
<<I would not do this'¦ But do continue to provide other offerings'¦and try new items like the afore mentioned Glassworms (White Mosquito Larvae)>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Re: Regal Angel only tank?? 4/20/09
ok. That was dumb to ask (in spite of all the FAQs)
Apologies for writing in despite reading.
Would it be ok if there were the following then?
I see you recommend raccoons for being kept in a group. (
Will this work if added in the order below
5-7 raccoon butterfly [Chaetodon fasciatus] (i don't mind sacrificing anyone's below for these)
<Too many for this volume... I'd go with two. B>
2 percula clowns
1 orchid Dottyback
3 Banggai cardinal
5 green chromis
1 blue tang
1 regal angel
Re: Regal Angel only tank?? 4/20/09
Hi Bob
Did you mean only 2 raccoons and nothing else from the list in the 180gal ?
<Nope... just limiting the number of Chaetodon fasciatus here to two, along with the rest of what you listed. B>

Raccoon Selection  12/19/08 Hi Guys and Gals <Si> I have made a decision to add a Raccoon butterfly to my 180 reef tank for the control of aiptasia. I have lots of live rock in my QT tank with aiptasia on it that I intend to use to test the fish before introduction during the 2-4 week QT period. My reef is nearly all hard corals, SPS and LPS. The LPS corals are Goniopora, Sinuosa, Duncanopsammia, Euphyllia, Galaxia. SPS are Montipora, Acropora, Porites, Hydnophora, Seriatopora. I also have a Turbinaria coral as well. I have two choices on the raccoon butterfly. I am aware that either, or neither may work both for aiptasia and potential coral/ fish compatibility but the question I have is based on the 'chance' of success. Choice number 1 is a Chaetodon Lunula from the Indian Ocean at two inches (small). Choice number 2 is a stunning Chaetodon Fasciatus from the Red Sea at five inches (largish). This is an extremely beautiful fish. <Mmm, am very partial to the Red Sea endemic myself...> Both are feeding well, on mysis. The only potential troublemakers territory-wise in my reef are the Emperor Angel (6 inches) and Flame Angel (2 inches). Your advice would be really helpful. Thanks muchly! Si <Should get along with these two Pomacanthids... I'd go with the C. fasciatus. Bob Fenner>
Re: Raccoon Selection  12/19/08
Hello again! Have just re-read my e-mail and the deliberate mistake is the location that the Lunula has come from - It is from Indonesia, NOT the Indian Ocean! <Mmm... have just looked on Fishbase.org re this species distribution: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php? ID=12274&genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=fasciatus and it states that C. fasciatus is found only in "Western Indian Ocean; the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden... but the distribution map shows it further into the Eastern I.O.... where I've never encountered it, nor do my print ref.s state that it's found there... Either this fish is a C. lunula (and no problem really), or your source is mistaken somewhere along the line... Or... the least likely possibility, this is news of extended distribution range for this species. BobF> Thanks very much, Si
Re: Raccoon Selection  12/19/08
Hi Bob, <Si, and yes!> Thanks for your recommendation and help!! - I don't think I've stumbled on a new distribution area for the Fasciatus - It was the Lunula that I said was from Indonesia!! <Ahh> My main concern about choosing the larger (Fasciatus) fish over the smaller (Lunula) was that maybe because it has spent more of it's life on the reef, it is more likely to eat the aiptasia, but also more likely to sample my corals as well. Is this true? I have never read this admittedly, but it just seems to make sense. Thanks again, Si <I would definitely (still) select the larger vs. the smaller (2") specimen... much more likely the former will adapt to captive conditions and live. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Raccoon Selection 12/19/08
Have just purchased the larger Fasciatus - thanks very much Bob, it is a very beautiful fish! Si <Ahh! B>
Re: Raccoon Selection    1/17/09
Hi Bob, <Simon> Just like to give you an update on the Raccoon Butterfly and how it has worked out so far! <Ah, good> The fish was quarantined for three weeks with some live rock that had various corallimorphs, Zoanthids and of course lots of Aiptasia on it! I also bought a Hydnophora and an Acropora, these were QT'd at the same time with the fish. The Butterfly immediately (within 1 minute of introduction!) wolfed down three Aiptasia, so that part was an immediate success. It's very satisfying watching him do it - he sort of 'sucks' them up! He also, however, over the next three weeks ate all of the Discosoma-type corallimorphs in the QT tank (as well as all of the Aiptasia), leaving the Zoanthids, Rhodactis, Acropora and Hydnophora alone. <Ok> I considered this acceptable, since I had already made attempts to remove the many corallimorphs in the past due to their toxicity. As the fish showed no signs other than being extremely healthy, in he went to the ST. Results are, I no longer have an Aiptasia problem (Wahey!). All of my Discosoma (spp) mushrooms have disappeared. He has so far picked on a Galaxia and a Euphyllia so that I have had to remove these corals from the tank (BOOO!!). This is acceptable to me so far, as he is such a beautiful fish, but whether he remains a long term resident does depend on how far his coral-munching goes in the future. Cheers, Simon Trippick <Thank you for your valuable first-hand observations. Will post, share. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re Raccoon Selection    3/21/08

Hi Bob,
I'm at work and a little bored
so I thought I'd update you on the progress of the Raccoon Butterfly.
Well, he started on my Turbinaria, which was a coral too far so he is now back in the QT tank. I have instead introduced a Forcipiger flavissimus who came from someone else's tank. This fish is 16 years old!!
The guy broke his long-time tank down, and my LFS was looking for a good home for the old guy, I had to have him and I'm glad I did, because he has so far ticked all boxes - he's less rambunctious than the Raccoon and gets on better with my Emperor, he eats Aiptasia, and I have put back the corals that I originally took out because of the Raccoon and he has not touched a single one yet! I just hope that he does not start on the corals because I would love to try to get him to a real pensionable age of 20+! Any idea how old they can get?
<At least to the mid-20's... Have been recorded, kept this long in some W. European public aquariums. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly, comp.  12/01/08 Hey WWM, Smaller size Raccoon Butterflies (1-2inches) will they eat mushrooms, and a polyp rock similar to green star polyps but they aren't just not sure the actual name. I know they are reef pickers but just wondering if they will tend to nip at these two items. and at the smaller size as well. <This Butterfly species will indeed eat less noxious Polypoid Cnidarian life... they're often used for keeping Aiptasia/Glass Anemone populations in check in commercial settings...> Secondly, starfish, hermit crabs, and snails will they get eaten by a raccoon as well? <Not so> thanks for the help Ryan <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly Question, for Majano control     11/30/08 Dear WWM <Ryan> Common question but couldn't get quite an exact answer. I have Majanos in my tank. Have been treating them with Joes juice daily towards every single one i can see. But still after 3 weeks of doing this.... i get still a couple a day...so i was thinking would getting a Raccoon Butterfly be good? <Mmm, maybe... do you have room...?> I saw smaller ones at the petstore and really liked them and thought that they would help. So just wondering if this would be a good idea even with only a few coming in every day that are REALLY small (less than 1/2 cent) also relating to all this the raccoon is about 1/2 inch if not a little less. <?! In length? Have never seen this fish, or other Chaetodont offered so small> But i really like that as i don't want a big one cause i want to see it grow. So even at small size will it still be effective is effective at all? <I doubt it... I even doubt it will live period> thanks for your help Ryan <If interested in eradication of this anemone... I encourage you to investigate the new Red Sea product: Aiptasia-X... really works and appears to be very "reef safe". Bob Fenner>

Struggling To Get My Raccoon Butterfly To Eat ? 10/29/08 Hello? <<Hiya Tom>> I think this is my third or fourth time emailing you and you have always provided a lot of help. Thanks! <<Ahh, good to know? I hope I can continue the trend>> In this case my problem is getting somewhat urgent. <<Uh-oh>> I purchased a raccoon Butterflyfish from Blue Zoo aquatics on 10/17, and today is 10/28. He is in solitary quarantine in a 29 g tank. He is about 3" long. Ultimately he will go into a 210 g display tank. Through this entire time he swims around the tank like he is perfectly healthy. He is always inspecting the decorations I put in the tank for shelter. However, I have not been able to get him to eat anything consistently. <<Mmm, I see? and yes, time to get concerned>> I feed my fish a homemade mixture of thawed Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, grated scallops, grated shrimp, and krill, all of which is soaked in Selcon and garlic juice before being frozen in little cubes. <<A good offering?>> Normally my fish love it, but the Butterflyfish doesn't. I have tried giving him pieces of algae sheets, and he seems to nibble on them, but he doesn't eat them consistently nor in large amounts. <<Indeed? not an algae eater>> I have also tried some different pellet and flake foods, but not surprisingly he is not interested in those either. I've soaked pretty much everything in garlic, but he seems to resist it. I did find a live rock in an old display tank with a few mushroom polyps on it, which I put in the quarantine tank. He apparently ate the polyps pretty quickly, although I did not actually witness this. I have heard that to induce feeding with raccoon Butterflyfish you can try giving them a small anemone. <<Is an option, yes>> Unfortunately I live in a small town and my ability to get an anemone for this purpose is somewhat limited. Do you have any other ideas? <<A couple? Try some live, or at least fresh, clam or mussel in the shell. Crack or spread the shell open so the fish can get to the meat and place on the bottom of the tank. Another favorite of mine for inducing finicky feeders is frozen glass worms (white mosquito larvae). Although a ?freshwater? organism they are still quite nutritious for marines? and something about their texture/look seems to be quite hard for fish to resist in my experience. I would also go ahead and move this fish to the larger display tank. The larger quarters will with the presence of the live rock upon which to browse will help here, along with seeing its tankmates eating to help induce a feeding response toward your prepared foods>> Thanks a lot for your help. Tom Dahl <<Happy to share? please let me know how things go. Eric Russell>>
Re: Struggling To Get My Raccoon Butterfly To Eat  11/08/08
Thank you for the advice. <<My pleasure>> I picked up some clams at the grocery store and broke them up with a hammer so that I can feed the raccoon butterflyfish small pieces at a time. <<Very good>> He really seems to love it. <<Ah!>> I thought that it would be a simple matter to eventually grate up the clams, feed him the grated clam, and then gradually mix in my regular mix of mysis shrimp, etc. But unfortunately he won't eat the grated clam--he only eats the clam if it's on the shell! <<But at least it is eating>> What a picky eater. <<I have a Copperband that is almost as finicky>> He has even put the grated clam into his mouth and then spat it out. So I am kind of at a loss on how to proceed. <<Perseverance? or simply feed it the clam on-the half-shell>> Thanks to your advice he is no longer in any danger of starvation, but obviously at some point I would like to get him eating the prepared food. Should I continue to try feeding him the grated clam? <<Sure can't hurt>> Is it wise to "starve" him for a few days beforehand so that he is more likely to take the food? <<This too is worth a try from time to time>> Thanks again for the help. I was so relieved the first time I put a clam piece in the tank and he tore into it. I feel like your advice bought me the time to approach this problem patiently. <<Ah yes, much better for all. It's so good to know this fish is eating, thank you for the update>> Tom <<Eric Russell>>

Need Diagnosis for Raccoon Butterfly  3/6/08 Hi crew, <David> Just found your site a few weeks ago and have found it very informative. I'm having some trouble though so I was hoping you could help me out. I have a medium sized Raccoon Butterfly fish in a 29 gallon tank <... needs more room than this> with along with a Midas Blenny. I picked up the Raccoon at Petco about a month ago. He's been healthy, and he eats-though pretty much only brine shrimp, which I know has little nutritional value. <Yes... so?> About a week after I brought him home he seemed to start developing a cottony growth on one of his fins. It spread to the tail, then to his dorsal fin. At first I thought it might be ich, did a water change, treated the tank with Coppersafe. <... see WWM re copper, Butterflyfishes... too toxic> Then I realized it wasn't ich. Now I'm not sure if it's a virus or a bacteria. In addition to the cottony growth, it appears he has some sort of abrasion on his skin. <Likely mostly copper burn, poisoning> The Blenny seems entirely unaffected by all of this (I had him quarantined for awhile but it was stressing him out so I put him back with the Raccoon, who he loves.) Anyway, I've included a link to some video footage I took of the sickness. Maybe you guys can take a look. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qMVEZNGy54 Thanks! David <Oh! Nice video, commentary... very clear. the fin growths are almost certainly a case of Lymphocystis... viral, environmental... Does look like a very nice specimen otherwise... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm and http://wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm and the linked files above. The body marking is trouble... an infection from a physical abrasion... Likely the best route to go here is environmental and nutritional improvement (e.g. Spectrum Pelleted food)... the "root causes" here will be therefore "cured". Bob Fenner>

Pictures - 10/07/07 Hi again Mr. Fenner, <Kamal> I have attached a picture of one of the organisms attached to my tank. <I see a whitish dot...> I have noticed that the flame and emperor are on the road to recovery from the eye problems now that I have inserted two doses on Parazoryne. the raccoon is also looking better...thankfully it is still feeding....so there is hope. <Good> I have also attached a picture of my two clowns, one looks rather washed out today, very pale in coloration. does it look like a problem to you....he is still behaving as usual and also feeding as normal.  I have noticed his tale looking like it has been pecked on. <Hard to make out> the water parameters are the same as last night.  Thank you my friend. <Wish you were out here with us... am visiting in the Bahamas, diving. BobF>

Raccoon Butterfly/Health 10/7/07 Hi Bob, <James with you today.> Here is a picture of my Raccoon before he went into the QT. Does he look ill in anyway? He has gone a lot darker in colour compared to how he was when I initially put him into the main tank two weeks ago. <From what I can see, it looks relatively healthy. Pic is a little too blurry to see any detail.> Thank you <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Butterfly Attacking Anemone   3/19/07 Hello <Hi!  Mich here.> I love your site and it has helped answer a lot of my questions in  the past. <Glad to hear!> However, 2 days ago I stopped into the fish store and since my tank has cycled I was interested in maybe purchasing and anemone. I told the  owners what I had in my tank: only a raccoon butterfly fish and a cleaner shrimp... <Anemones and Raccoon Butterfly are NOT suitable tank mates.> I was not really planning on purchasing anything when I came in and  stupidly did not do any research, <Hopefully, you will not repeat this mistake.> however, the owner said that they would not bother it and recommended a  Haitian pink tip anemone. <This is why YOU have to do the research. Anemones are the Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) most favorite snack, sort of like chocolate for many women... a temptation too great to resist.  In fact, if a newly introduced Raccoon Butterflyfish is not eating when introduced, one trick to get it to feed is to offer a small anemone.  More here and links in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/condybehfaq.htm  > At this time I  also purchased a small piece of pulsing xenia with a small piece of  hard coral attached.   <Anemones are the favorite but no inverts or corals are safe with this fish.  Xenia will likely be eaten also. More here and links in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/xeniidarts.htm  > All seemed fine the day I brought it home and  yesterday but this evening I came home and found my butterfly fish biting my  anemone. <Yep!> I threw some Mysis in the tank to try to distract it and then proceeded  to remove the anemone and presently have it in a ventilated plastic box in my aquarium. <A temporary solution.> After this I started looking on the Internet and found out that they  are one of their predators, correct? <Absolutely.> The anemone is able to attach itself to  the side of the box but on some of its tentacles where it was bitten, it is fine  up until the bite and is all shriveled up and grey and droopy. <Mmm, yes, is unhappy… lost an appendage...> I was  wondering if it would be able to recover and what were its chances? <Hopefully.> or if  you has any suggestions. <Yes, return the anemone.  These creatures are, in my opinion, disasters waiting to happen because of their mobile tendency.  Then get the bible:  The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert M. Fenner... read it.  Decide if you want a fish only tank or a reef tank and plan accordingly.>    Thank you <Welcome!  -Mich>

Overly Simplistic Questions   11/24/06 what info do you have  about schooling Raccoon Butterflies? thanks <In what regards? If you mean in terms of aquarium compatibility of a school of butterflies, not without a volume of several hundred gallons. Google is your friend. Use it. -JustinN>

Raccoon Butterfly problems, too small at purchase  8/23/06 Hi,   I have read through all your articles I could find on getting a raccoon b/f to eat, but I am not having any luck. My new arrival is small (1 to 1 1/2 inches) <... too small> and I was very leery about buying such a small specimen. <You should be... I would take it back, pronto> I visited this fish four times over the course of so many weeks though, and he appeared healthy and was eating flakes like a pig. <Can't, won't live for long on flake food... try it> When I got him home, he ate for the first day, and then quit. I have to mention that when he met my cleaner shrimp, the shrimp went wild on him and exposed (?) a white patch behind his gills (not near them). <Could be a factor> It has not spread and neither the shrimp or the patch have bothered him since that first day, so I am not sure what it is. As far as eating, he will pick off the live rock occasionally, <Good> but will not eat anything else I put in the tank (flakes, Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, Nori, krill, marine cuisine, oysters). So, I followed your advice and bought two different types of clams, pried them open and put them in the tank, so far- no interest. <Mmm, I'd be adding more, fresh live rock...> He is falling fast, I think, starting to lay on his side <A very bad sign> occasionally, swimming around fairly well otherwise. I know I am running out of time. There are no noticeable marks/redness around his mouth or gills. So, finally, for my question, we are thinking if he refuses to eat the clam, should we try transferring him to the refugium for a little while, so he has plenty of access to the copepods with no competition? <An excellent idea> I have to get him to eat something soon -this is about day 5 that I have had him. I am worried though that moving him again may just stress him out so much that he wouldn't make it. Do you think the move would be worth the risk? <Yes... about the only thing that might save this too-small specimen> Also, if I do put him in the refugium, should I put a clam or any other food down there with him? <No, I would not> I would appreciate any help you can give me! Thanks so much for your time. -Take care, Jennifer <Next time... please read re the species, genus (if they're available), family information on WWM re "Selection" for input on ideal size range for first purchasing specimens... like Goldilocks and the tres ursids and pudding temp... Not too big, or small... Bob Fenner>

Compatibility/Raccoon Butterfly    5/2/06 Hi, <Good morning.> I was hoping you could give me some advice. I am looking for a new fish for my FOWLR tank, and I am trying to choose between a raccoon butterfly and either an asfur or map angel. My concern is I have a cleaner shrimp and a fire shrimp, and I am unsure if any of these fish would nip at/kill the shrimp. I had a bad experience and learned the hard way that parrotfish will eat cleaner shrimp. Any advice you can give me would be appreciated. <Jenn, these fish shouldn't bother the cleaner shrimp.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jenn
Re: Compatibility/Raccoon Butterfly/Asfur Angel/Maculosus Angel    5/2/06
Hi again, <Hello Jenn> Sorry, I forgot to mention I also have two sand sifting starfish and a chocolate chip starfish. Would they be safe the raccoon, the asfur or the map angel? <Yes.> Thanks again <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> - Jenn

Raccoon Butterfly for Aiptasia control part 2 12/4/05 Hi Adam. Thanks for the help. Does it matter which species of Raccoon Butterfly Fish for munching Aiptasia. One local dealer has a nice adult Red Sea one Chaetodon fasciatus), and the other species (Chaetodon lunula), but younger. Thanks, Bill  <If the fish both look healthy, I would go for the Red Sea fish unless it is very large (larger than your hand). Best Regards. AdamC.>
Raccoon Butterfly for Aiptasia control 11/25/05
Hi Guys, Love the site!!! <Thanks!> I have a 75 gallon Fish-Only tank.  I've had it set up & running successfully for more than 11 years.  Actually, today is my Clownfish's 11th birthday.   <Congrats on your success!!>   Current inhabitants include 4 fish (I think I can add a couple more): Clownfish, Coral Beauty, Five-Line Wrasse (kind of cool) - http://www.hawaiisfishes.com/fish_of_month/past_fom/fish_3_03.htm & a Sailfin Tang.  I just lost a Tinker's Butterfly that I kept for about 10 years.   <Sorry for your loss.  I agree that you could add a couple more fish, although your light stocking probably has contributed to your success.> My tank is an Oceanic 75 gal/tank, with a Wet/Dry Trickle Filter.  I have had a Prizm skimmer running successfully for a few years.  (Had to toss that in, as I read some poor reviews about them, but with normal maintenance, it runs great). After battling nitrates for many years, I decided to add live rock to my tank.  I have had skeletal rock in there all along, and have decided to jump into the live rock scene.  I bought the rock from a local dealer that I've bought fish from.  I'm gradually going to remove all the bio balls, and just use the wet/dry as a sump.   <Although the longevity of your fish is proof that your system is working well as it is, the addition of live rock will most likely be an improvement and will certainly help your nitrate problem.> Anyways, like many others, I've discovered quite a bit of Aiptasia Anemones on the 90 lbs of Fiji & Ultra Premium Live Rock I put in.  I have been reading your site like a madman, and am considering adding a Raccoon Butterfly to the tank.  I know they have a taste for Aiptasia.  My main question is if the Live Rock will continue to do its job after the Raccoon munches the Aiptasia, or will the Raccoon be destructive to the Live Rock. I know Raccoons aren't generally reef friendly, but are they Live Rock friendly? Thanks again for all your time.  ;-) Bill   <A Raccoon is a great choice for it's hardiness and likelihood to eat the Aiptasia. This butterfly will eat some sessile live rock critters, but this will not have any significant negative impact on the "function" of the rock.  Good luck!  AdamC.>

Raccoon Butterflies and Pest Anemones 1/28/2005 Hello Bob, <Hi Bill, actually Adam J with you this morning.> Awesome Site! :-D <Thank you.> Question on Butterfly's. I'm a wee bit confused on this page: <Okay, I'll see if I can help you out.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm  I have a Fish Only tank with Live Rock. I'd love to add a Raccoon to 'hopefully' munch glass anemones. Will both the Chaetodon lunula & Chaetodon fasciatus be likely to graze upon them? <From what I have gathered most are about as likely to eat them. Though Chaetodon lunula seems to be the easier to find out of the two and thus it will probably be easier to find a healthier specimen of this species. However I might add that in my experience a lot of folks who employ butterfly to rid themselves of pest anemones tend to be disappointed at times. Often the fish is already spoiled on prepared foods and tend not to be so "hot" on picking these critters out of the rockwork. If you have an abundance of pest anemones it can usually be traced back to overfeeding or a nutrient problem. See here for some more ideas/details: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aip&bfsfaqs.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/aiptasia_impressions/aiptaisia_impressions.htm >
Re: Raccoon Butterfly and Pest Anemone Update - It Worked!  11/30/05
Hi FAQ CREW, <Hi Bill.> Just an update. <I like those.> Well, I bit the bullet yesterday and purchased the Red Sea Raccoon. I guess a customer who moved gave him to the dealer to sell. He is about 3-4" in length right now.  <Good size.> I put him in a quarantine tank yesterday with a live rock that had Aiptasia problems. He was picking at it all day long. Not sure if the Aiptasia went into hiding, or if he's picked it clean. I'd say there were at least 15 of those buggers on one piece of rock, and now there is not one to be seen!!! <Wow, sounds great. Be sure to provide a variety of other foods as well but it looks like you got exactly what you were looking for.> Thanks again for all your help! I'll keep you up to date once I add him to the main tank. For now, I think I'll toss more Aiptasia rock in his tank. ;-) <Good luck with him.> Bill <Adam J.> 

Raccoon Butterfly, Copper, Quarantine 9/30/05 My name is Kristen and I just bought a raccoon butterfly for my 70gal tank.  Currently he is in my 25gal QT tank that I am treating with copper.  The last fish in the QT tank had been treated with copper before because of either velvet or angel fish disease (I figured after 4 months of letting the tank sit with no hosts, the parasite would die off). <Although Ick and velvet would die after this amount of time, quarantine tanks should always be drained and allowed to completely dry between uses to be absolutely sure than any pathogens can't survive.> Surely enough, my butterfly started to get white spots and was darting all over the tank.  So I'm assuming he contracted the same thing. <Most likely, it was carrying the disease when you purchased it.> I do notice that he is breathing very fast and heavy at times, other times not.  I have a good-sized air bar in the tank along with good circulation with a bio filter running and heater. <Rapid gill movement is usually a sign of stress and often of parasites damaging gills.  This occurs even when there is plenty of oxygen in the water.> Before I put my butterfly in the tank, the copper treated water had been sitting a good four months w/o any fish in it.  One quarter of the water evaporated, and I sucked out the other 1/4 of the water for a 50% water change (including the water that evaporated).  So 50% of the old water still remained and I put the other 50% full of new water. <Yikes!  If the water was allowed to evaporate 25%, this could cause unpredictable changes in water quality.  Also, if you have not done so, please be sure that the salinity is correct as it would have increased with evaporation.  I would suggest performing a couple of large (25-30%) water changes with water from your display to ensure proper water quality.  Replace the water in your display with new well aerated salt water.> Do you think after all that time there was still copper left (I forgot to test to see)?  As of right now, I only put the first dose of two in the tank.  Im going to hold off on putting the second and final dose in until I hear from you. <It is impossible to predict how much copper might have been left in the water.  Copper treatment must be done according to the package directions and should be tested regularly during treatment (some preparations can't be tested for... just follow the directions to the letter).> Do you think his fast breathing are signs of a copper overdose already, only after 2 days?  I'm concerned even though the fish looks great/very colorful, is eating, and is active.  He just seems a little spazzy. Please help!!  Thanks so much, Kristen :-) <I doubt that this is copper toxicity.  I would guess that it is a water quality/stress issue.  The fish should have plenty of cover to make it feel secure (flower pots or pieces of PVC pipe work well) and water quality should be optimized with water changes and good filtration.  Be sure to add the appropriate amount of copper to make up for water changes.  Hope this all helps.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Red coloration on a raccoon 8/25/05 Hello again WWM crew. Update. My pacific tang has started eating just about anything I put in his QT tank, and is now also rather hyper. He has another week to go before his trip to the big tank! I purchased a raccoon butterfly yesterday from my local LFS. I looked for all of the bad indicators as described in the article on raccoon butterflyfish. ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm) He ate at the store, had no reddening, and was very bright colored. This evening I got home from work and noticed that the top of his mouth/nose area was starting to get slightly red and it looked like he had a small piece of flesh coming off. <Common... from being moved, netted... bumping into things... dangerous if the mouth is too damaged...> I attempted to take a picture, but it is hard to get a close up shot of his nose with any sort of clarity. I didn't notice any red coloration around his fins as of yet. Today he seems less energetic and would eat none of the brine shrimp I dropped in the tank unlike last night. He still has good coloring, but does appear to be breathing slightly quicker. I'm not sure how the reddening nose ties into this next fact, but I have seen him glance off of the pvc couplings I have put in  his QT tank. After researching your site, and searching for just about every combination of red mouth, glancing, and butterflyfish I could think of I'm now writing to you for help. He is currently in a 10 gallon tank with a whisper 10 gallon power filter, a heater set to 81 degrees, and two 3'' pvc elbows (I have been thinking about putting in an air stone). <I would> The water parameters are 1.0235 specific gravity, ph of 8.2, ammonia and nitrites at zero, and a slightly detectable nitrate of about 2-3(barely registers on test kit). The water from the tank came directly from my main tank which currently has about 75 lbs of live rock and 18 turbo snails. The raccoon was drip acclimated for about 2.5 hours when I initially obtained him. Thanks in advance for any tips on care or diagnosis you can provide. Rick <... very likely just resultant from the move... keep observing, be ready to dip, move the fish to better, larger quarters... Bob Fenner>

- White Spots on Raccoon Butterfly - I have a small raccoon butterfly in my main tank - FOWLR.  I had it in quarantine for 2 weeks and now in my main tank for 2 weeks.  I see some tiny white dots on the tail.  It's eating normally and acting fine.  Should I put it back into quarantine tank with medicine or is it nothing and will it go away? <I'd leave it be for now - a few spots on a fin shouldn't be an extreme concern and better at this point for the fish to resume a "normal" life rather than quarantine. Do keep an eye on those spots and make sure they don't multiply - if they do then you know what you'll need to do.> Thanks. Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

Aiptasia-Eating Raccoon Butterflies (3/19/05) Hi Folks,  <Hi there. Steve Allen with you tonight.> You have all been so helpful that I thought I should report my results for anyone who may have a similar problem. <Thanks for sharing.>  I have a 300 gallon reef tank that has been going for many years now. I recently had an Aiptasia infestation. Well, plague would be a better word.  <Yikes!>  They were everywhere, including starting to sting my polyp colonies.  <Yes, this is one of their many problems. I have a Blastomussa that was harmed in this way.>  Nothing that I tried worked. Peppermint shrimp did nothing.  <It's definitely frustrating when they don't eat what they're supposed to. It's sort of like trying to get a recalcitrant child to eat healthy food.>  I turned to a Copperband Butterflyfish. I couldn't keep one alive through quarantine... <These are tough fish to keep alive long-term, and some don't have a personal taste for Aiptasia either.> ... so I finally broke down decided it was time to take a risk with a Raccoon.  <Interesting> I got a small one. I kept him in 75-gallon quarantine for 45 days, passing Aiptasia infested rock through to give him a taste.  <Good idea.>  He has been in my 300 for about a month now, and there is not an Aiptasia to be found!  <Congratulations!>  The better news is that he has touched none of my corals, and none of my polyps.  <I hope that this remains true now that the Aiptasia is gone. Keep him well-fed with other things and keep a close eye on your corals. Again, all fishes have their individual variations, so "reef-safe" and other traits are generalizations that may not hold for a given individual.>  I even have two Condylactis Anemones I had taken in as rescues to help out the prior owner, and he hasn't touched those, either. He tells me that the books give his species a bum rap.  Maybe its just blind luck,  <Good fortune is always welcome. Take it when you can get it.> and there are certainly no guarantees or warranties, but this has been my experience.  <Thank goodness for small favors, eh?>  Regards, Dale M.  <Again, thanks for sharing.> 

Re: Butterfly fish Bob, In the past I have asked for your advise and it has always been right on the mark. One thing I have learned in this hobby is do your homework, before you create a problem. <Yes, Hallelujah!> I want to add a butterfly Raccoon (Chaetodon fasciatus) or Threadfin (Chaetodon auriga) to my display tank (after a three week Q). First question is in the trade almost all raccoons I see are not from the Red Sea and appear to be Chaetodon lunula. <Yes. Lunulas distribution range is much closer to us/U.S.> Any ideas on how to find Chaetodon fasciatus in the Cleveland area. <Have your dealer's contact Quality Marine in Los Angeles> Also, I have about 15 snails that are breeding rapidly (probably 20 or 30 little snails developing), a cleaner shrimp, several hermit crabs, and two peppermint shrimp (to keep Aiptasia under control). This is a FOWLR tank (no corals). Are either of these good choices or would they likely make a meal out of my inverts. If not what would be a better choice? <Should be fine together> Thanks for your help, Geoff Goodfellow <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

No Butterfly Kisses Here (Butterfly in a Reef)... Oh knowledgeable ones, <Wow! I've been called susceptible, corruptible, culpable, even palatable...but knowledgeable- that's cool! Scott F. here tonight> I am thinking of adding a raccoon butterfly to a 500 gallon reef tank. Mostly SPS. I do have some rose anemones in the tank. Would they be at risk or the SPS.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. I did try to page through you question pages but could not find this are describing this. Thanks in advance. <On the whole, I'd have to call this fish "reef-unsafe". It really will eat, or at least sample, most of the SPS and other corals and inverts that you are keeping. In fact- I can recall at least one book that recommends trying an anemone as an appetite stimulant for a Raccoon Butterfly who's a reluctant feeder. Yikes! Much better to try a Chaetodon kleinii, or a Forcipiger longirostris ("Big Long-Nosed Butterflyfish"), IMO. These fishes are a bit less of a threat to your corals. Granted, in a large tank with lots of corals- the "damage" is spread out over a lot of specimens, but do you really want to put them at risk? It's really a "roll of the dice" when attempting to keep a Butterfly in a coral-dominated reef system. Keep researching these fishes, and make the decision based upon your level of comfort...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Chaetodon lunula Help, just added a Raccoon Butterfly to my 140 gallon tank. I have tried to get him to eat, no luck so far. I have tried Hikari "Marine S", pellets. Frozen food tried is as follows; mega marine, brine shrimp, blood worms with no luck. He just looks at it and swims on buy. I have also tried morning and night feedings. I have only had the fish 3 days but my concern grows. Specs on the tank are, total four fish 5" dogface,3" Picasso trigger, 5" Sailfin tang, raccoon 3".....thanks for your help...I check your website daily, have your book and love it, it has served me very well........thx again. good day <Hi Theresa, There are several issues specific to BF's. Please read about them at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm and the general links about BF's at the top of the page. I would keep offering food, hopefully he will eat soon. The activity of the other fish eating should help if he is up to it. Craig> 

Raccoon butterfly? Hello doctor, <Bob's not here right now, and I've been called a lot of things before but "doctor" has never been one of them.... well, there was that one time after a crazy convention in Vegas... but that is really another matter altogether (?!?) Anthony Calfo in your service> I am on day 10 of a copper treatment @ .20ppm.  <for the record...many of the copper tolerant fishes seem to navigate a antiparasitic treatment better at .25ppm. Under .20 is rather ineffective... a judgment call for each of us. >30 is lethal to many fishes just the same.> All of my other fish have long stopped itching except my raccoon bf. He really seems to be aggravated. I have several other different butterfly fish, and a Foxface and a tomato clown. None of these fish seem to be troubled at all in this 135 tank. Are raccoon butterfly fish especially sensitive to copper?  <Ahh... yes. Butterflies, Angels...some tangs, drumfish/croakers, Elasmobranchs, dragonets, Firefish, cardinals...the list goes on...> My 4 eyed butterfly appears to be very similar to the raccoon, yet like the rest of the fish he is ok.  <not a fair comparison over such a short span of time or between species which likely have different tolerances. Many fish make it through a symptomatic stage of treatment only to die days or weeks later from overmedication or drug sensitivity (meds stored in body fats, used up and OD later)> Help. I can't stand to see him so bothered. Would a partial water change help? <sure... water changes daily from the tank bottom reduce tomites that eventually infect hosts... but this fish really needs freshwater dips. They are more effective and direct than copper for many fish anyways. If unsure, please review protocol for conducting proper FW dips in the WWM archives or Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist if you are fortunate to have it. Have faith... Raccoons are incredibly hardy... but what's up with the 4-eye butterfly? Who the heck suggested that to you?! It can't be more than a year old and odds are against it ever seeing it sorry to say, although I hope for the best indeed. Especially without QT for all new fishes... really critical. Please be sure to feed an extraordinary and varied diet. > Thank you, Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Raccoon B/F Mr. Fenner, I have looked to you for advice in the past and most of the time your experience is a huge asset to me. I need your advice again. I recently purchased a Raccoon b/f from FFExpress and it is about 3-3.5" long and pretty robust for a b/f (not paper thin like most). He is in my 10g qt tank with the following stats: 0-.1 ammonia just a smidge over the 0, but not quit .2, but my qt tank never goes any lower than that, and I have QT'd a Naso tang and emperor angel in it with no problems), 0 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 1.025 salinity, 78* temp, ph 8. The reason I am asking for your advice is because the little bugger has not taken a bite of one thing I have put in the tank yet. I have tried small amounts(3-5) of live black worms, small pieces of squid, and small pieces of formula 2, and he will not even go near the food, let alone nibble on it. I have the Naso and emperor that I mentioned above and they took a few days to start eating the angel took about 2-3 days to start eating all the food, but he nibbled at least the first day or so). I have had the raccoon since Thursday evening, and he still shows no sign of eating or of settling down. He is very skittish, shy, and secretive. I come into the room were his tank is and he either hides close to the pvc tube I put in the tank for him or he rushes behind the sponge filter and just stays there all freaked out for about a minute or two and then comes out, but not very far from safety (My emperor and Naso were shy like the b/f for about a day maybe two, but after that, just like a puppy, out and about) . I am not scared yet that he is going to die, but I am getting concerned after 4 days of him not eating a damn thing. I also put a piece of live rock in the tank that has some good algae growth on it so that he can nibble on that I have noticed him one time, taking a nibble on it, but that will not sustain him). So, what are my options, what do I do to get him to eat, what can I try that I haven't? <I would take a calculated risk here... pH adjusted freshwater dip this specimen and place it in your main/display tank> I have read that b/f's can not pass up a fresh opened clam, live brine shrimp, or a certain type of cheap anemone you state in your book that Condylactis are prolific and cheap). I have not tried these, but where would I get a fresh clam? And if you could recommend a few things that have worked for you to get a shy b/f to start eating, that would be great. The b/f's at one of my LFS's are shy, but once they are used to you being in front of the tank, they come out flying around, chasing each other all over the place, and eating chunks of meat or flake food like rabid dogs. If the live anemone is almost a sure thing, I would have no problem buying one to get him eating. I just don't understand why the little guy is not eating yet, from what yourself, other authors, and people in the fish community say, the raccoon is one of the best b/f's to have in captivity. They supposedly eat well and are very hardy as well as the saddleback and auriga b/f. So what gives? <Hmm, nothing... just an at-times skittish species of small size> When I had the angel and he did not really eat for about 3-4 days, I was freaking out, but by the 4th day, he started eating and within another few days, he was a rapid dog (as of now, he basically eats whatever is in tank: formula 2, pygmy angel formula, sponge formula, Nori, seaweed selects, and even flake food)! But the point is, he did begin to at least check the food out and take a few goes at it in the first few days, were as the b/f is still freaked out and not at all interested in eating yet. And if you tell me, "well, you should probably only buy fish that you can see eating before you buy", I would respond, "I don't have 100 dollars to spend on one freaking little tiny fish." And even if I did have that type of money to blow on a fish I wouldn't because it is way cheaper on the net. From what I have found, the fish I own and the fish my friends own, FFExpress and marine center have much higher quality fish than what I see in the LFS's.  The fish in the LFS sometimes have ich or other diseases and are sometimes dead or pretty thin, were as FFExpress and Marin center fish are very robust, have no disease what so ever, and are beautiful. I bought the raccoon from one the most reputable fish dealers on the net, FFExpress, and I have never had a problem with them nor anyone I know. Thanks for any help in advance and as always, I love receiving insight from an experienced person like yourself. Ryan Fick <I think you and the B/F are better off going ahead with the above... this is what I would do. Bob Fenner>
Re: Raccoon B/F
Mr. Fenner, when you say, "I think you and the B/F are better off going ahead with the above... this is what I would do", does that mean I should go ahead and give it a fresh water ph adjusted dip and get him in the main display tank? <Yes, exactly. The risk of disease introduction here is far outweighed by the benefit of moving this fish... there is too much likelihood that it will suffer from lack of nutrition otherwise> I am assuming that's what you meant since that was the only thing you wrote, besides the "Hmm, nothing... just an at-times skittish species of small size." What is the reasoning behind this calculated risk? Is it that if he is in the main tank surrounded by a close representation of his reality and peers, he will then feel at home and begin to become comfortable and start eating?  <Yes, and that there are more "things" for the lunula to eat> That is what I am thinking it might do, but I would have never thought to do that since yourself and most others state that all new arrivals should be QT'd for at least a month.  <Not all for sure... gobies and blennies for instance would likely perish through this trial> But by fresh water dipping him, I am hopefully killing any saltwater diseases or pathogens, correct?  <Yes, please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm> Thanks for the advice and don't worry, I will not blame you if the fish dies, I already realized when I first got into this that these animals are a lot harder to take care of than a dog or cat and fully expect to loose a fish sometime hopefully not, and that is why I ask for advice from long time experts like yourself). Ryan <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Fish Hi, I just bought a raccoon and pacific Double Saddled Butterfly. Any suggestions on keeping them alive and healthy? do you have any tricks or tips for keeping them in good shape. I heard that live brine shrimp is a must on arrivals for butterflies, I can only get live brine shrimp in a few days so I hope they survive the first few days. any suggestions would be great. and I really like your book! -Matt <Thanks for writing... and pumping me up! Yes to having a bunch to say about these two great Butterflyfish species... actually have separate articles on both posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>
Re: Raccoon Fish
<Note: Add Link/WWM> Hi, I have an aquarium member site also, I was wondering if you would be able to join a chatroom discussion sometime? Do you think you would be able to do that, I'm sure my members would be happy if you could talk to them. Just email me if you are interested in doing this. My website is saltwater.8m.com Thank you! -Matt <A nice, clean web. Will add you as a link, and do let me know if/when you have openings for your chatroom discussions. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly Dear Mr. Fenner, Don't know if you'll get this in time, but here goes: I took your advice on using a raccoon butterflyfish to control Aiptasia, which is getting totally out of hand in my 55 reef. No sooner was the fish out of the bag today, but he nailed several Aips! I thought, "Great!" and then the wars broke out. My old (3 yrs) gold & black Chromis had to be removed as he was determined to kill the butterfly within the hour. All seemed fine until a few minutes ago, the adult tomato clown attacked the raccoon, and is spitting out scales! <Yikes, some established social dynamic now!> The lights are out, I already rearranged the liverock to some extent (had to get to the darn Chromis!) thinking that would re-establish territories. <Not likely in such a small system> I hope this beautiful fish is still alive in the morning, (I don't have a place to put him) but what can I do to prevent WW3 in this tank? <Move the other grand offendis, the other fishes> Hoping you can help, thanks in advance :) Stephanie <Peace to you, and your livestock! Bob Fenner>
Re: Raccoon Butterfly
Thanks so much for your reply - that's what I was afraid you'd say :) Well, things are much more peaceful today, the raccoon has elected to stay on one end of the tank, and the tomato seems to be satisfied with that for now. Keeping my fingers crossed! S. Sullivan <Me too... hopefully all the Aiptasia and agonistic behavior will soon be over. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly I recently bought a raccoon butterfly for Aiptasia control. My first two choices were unavailable, they were peppermint shrimps and an Auriga butterfly. there was a Copperband available but I was not confident enough to keep it, because I've had bad luck with them. Anyways. I brought the fish home, acclimated it and introduced it into my reef. I've had it for 4 days now. Its not eating. it only picks at the liverock. wont touch the Aiptasia nor will it eat frozen Mysis or live brine. nothing is harassing it. My water is 0 Ammonia, Nitrate and nitrite. temp is 78?F. The tank is a 60gallon reef, with 80lbs of live rock. 2 leather corals and over 160 mushroom anemones and a large pink tip that split. Fish consist of 1 Marine Betta, 1 tomato clown, 1 Tailspot wrasse, and 1 Sailfin tang. Algae crew is 30 Astrea snails and 1 large turbo snail. and 20 scarlet reef crabs and 2 emerald crabs. Lighting consists of 4 96w PC lights. I have an AquaMaster 600 to hold media like carbon. I use a SeaClone as a protein skimmer, which I will be upgrading within a month. I have 2 power heads, one on each end of the tank. I do 25% water change every month. I also have a large problem with Blue Green algae (Cyanobacteria) I presume. I need help getting rid of this too. Hope this is enough detail for you to trouble shoot. thanks. Dexter >> Hmm, who can say re the non-feeding Raccoon... it should start feeding soon... I would be hopeful here. Concerning the Aiptasia and the C. lunula...? Also, hard to tell... some do munch on Glass Anemones... others stick with zooplankton or substitutes of same... I do have a concern re your stmt. of so many Corallimorphs... these may need to be thinned/traded... and your Cyano problems will definitely be helped by way of upgrading the skimming... Additionally, I would start using some (a unit, like Chemipure) of activated carbon replaced every month... to lower dissolved organics... possibly the chemical effects of the coral anemones and the BGA. Bob Fenner
Re: Raccoon Butterfly
Why are my mushrooms a concern? the toxics they create? >> <Possibly, along with their "high" status at winning in the "stinging" competition. Bob Fenner>

I have a Raccoon Butterfly fish that I just got yesterday. I don't know what they eat. I tried frozen algae cubes and he liked it just fine. What else do they eat?? Do they like baby brine??? >> What? No! Buying livestock without first checking out its husbandry... This is a generalized zooplanktivore species that eats most anything meaty that is small enough to get in its mouth. Bob Fenner

Red Sea Raccoon Hi Bob- Well impulse selection has reared its ugly head again. It all started as I entered a local Petco and wandered over to the marine section. Something caught my eye immediately it was what appeared to be a 3" Red Sea Raccoon. I believe it to be a Red Sea specimen as the colors are very bright and the tail is distinctive as to what I have seen before as a Red Sea Raccoon. The origin was not noted on the price, which was another thing that caught my eye it was priced at 18.99 with 25% off all Tropical fish, total was 14.24. There was another Raccoon there half the size and was distinctively different than the larger one. I owned a 1" non Red Sea Raccoon for about 15 months until it stopped eating and perished.

My question is that I very much want to keep this fish alive and  hopefully thriving for many years as it is indeed a very beautiful species. The problem I think I will encounter is in regards to feeding and I would like some tips on caring for this fish. Current inhabitants are: Black finned Trigger, Assasi Trigger, Naso Tang, Yellow Tang all in a 125 gal. How can I make sure he will get enough nutrition. While feeding the other Raccoon I had to wait for him to surface in the corner and drop food in the tank right in front of him it was kind of a pain but he was small. Last night he ate a little scallop and was constantly scourging the live rock for something. He was very active  and swimming at all levels. I have a Aug 97 issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist and you wrote an  article called "Rating the Red Sea Butterflyfishes". The article is brief but states that the SG should be no lower than  1025 has this changed at all since then?
This fish being nocturnal should I feed him at night when the lights  are out as he would have a better chance of getting food. Any additional info as to what is in the article would be appreciated. Thanks Tom  >> Hmm, wow, always wonder if I'm the only one keeping tract of pet-fish hobby articles! Yes to keeping the specific gravity high(er) in my opinion... And this is a very tough species all in all (as you know)... and a steady zooplanktivore... best kept in an established reef system with lots of live rock... and it should do fine in your system... if it can edge in its meals amongst those triggers... more frequent feedings, small amounts... in particular near lights out time... should do. Bob Fenner, who has that Chaetodon fasciatus (Red Sea) and Indo Pacific (C. lunula) Raccoon Butterflyfishes piece archived at www.wetwebmedia.com for others perusal.

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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