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FAQs on Butterflyfishes

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Related FAQs: Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease, Hawaiian ButterflyfishesRaccoon B/F's, Double-Saddlebacks, Threadfins

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

A Rabble of Butterflyfishes - Please Expand. And getting out to see BFs in the wild          9/29/16
Greetings Bob,
<Hey Sarah>
I thoroughly enjoyed your recent piece in CORAL about butterflies and your experience in the Philippines - what an enthralling time that must have been.
<And still are!>
We've corresponded before regarding Chaetodons I've attempted to keep, some of which have been thriving to date. The reason I write now is in reference to your paragraph about hobbyist quarantine and suggesting to place butterflies immediately into the display.
<I see>
It states, "This standard operating procedure assumes that there are no established bullying livestock...and your butterflyfish is in good initial health. The preventative dip/bath mentioned should take care of external parasites..."
<I'd like to insert the word/s "hopefully (and) most" in front of "external parasites">
I find this conflicting because it is difficult to find specimen in good initial health.
<Mmm; okay... how 'bout another sub... "better" for "good"?>
I don't overdo quarantine, I prefer an established setup with some live rock, will utilize TTM, freshwater dips and deworming, usually Levamisole. But I have found that dips, even those with Formalin do not eradicate all present ectoparasites,
<This is so... esp. more deeply "embedded" Protozoans; some worms...>

leaving enough to potentially take hold in the aforementioned display.
So unless each fish had a skin scrape, I wouldn't be comfortable with the dip and place procedure. For ex, I recently I purchased a trio of pyramid butterflies from DD that had a very aggressive strain of Amyloodinium and dipped them daily as part of treatment and it only resolved 80-90% of parasites attached to the fish. If I would have initially dipped and placed these fish in the display, none of which had torn fins, reclusive behavior, heavy breathing, spots, dusty appearance upon arrival, I would have jeopardized C. tinkeri and a slew of others.
So, theoretically, if all fish are in good initial health this method works and there's no need to further stress a fish
in qt possibly tipping the balance between health and disease, but some high mortality diseases aren't blatantly apparent immediately, even to the trained eye. Please explain your reasoning.
<You're compelling me to be more clear, erudite. Appreciated. My statements are intended for a "general audience" and some sort of "average" livestock, situation...
On the whole I will stick with your careful review of what I've written, presented on balance for the public... AS (I hope to be clearer here) for MOST folks, trials, BFs will be MORE impugned by delaying their introduction than their health guaranteed or restored (by quarantine, treatment there for parasites). Given the opportunity (as we are doing here, or better still in propria persona), I WOULD/DO consider your approach more beneficial, KNOWING/TRUSTING that YOU know "what you're doing". Understanzee?>
Additionally, where are your favorite places in the world to dive, snorkel even and observe butterflyfish?
<Gosh... there are a few.
Hawaii in general (here's that word again) for being convenient, close, known... esp. to see the endemic C. fremblii; all places in the "coral triangle" (Malaysia, P.I., Indo.... N. E Australia) for sheer diversity (and local abundance at times); and a great fave, the Red Sea... for endemism and coloration. Am going to try and find you on
Facebook, add you to our "Scuba Diving Friends" page... to share further.
Do look me up as well if interested, and send a friend request. I am Robert Fenner there>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon image use      8/8/16
I am a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution and I would very much like to use the following image in the media release of one of our research papers on the history of the isthmus of panama:
If you agree the author of the image, or your website, will be fully acknowledged in all representations.
Please let me know if you agree and many thanks for your support.
Dr. Aaron O'Dea
<This/these are my images; and my long-standing policy is to allow free use of my content for educational purposes. Please find three files attached.
These are the better Costa Rica shots of this BF. Will these do? Bob Fenner>
Dr. Aaron O'Dea
Staff Scientist | Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Re: Chaetodon image use       8/9/16
Dear Bob Fenner,
Thank you so much! These are perfect.
<Ah, welcome. Cheers, BobF>

Missing butterfly pictures   9/13/12
Hi Crew,
Thought you would like some butterfly pictures for identification purposes, that you are missing.
Kind regards,
Peter Martis
<Thank you Peter; will post w/ credit to you. Bob Fenner>


Butterflyfish forming mated pairs? Chaetodon Behavior/Sexing    2/28/12
<Hello Adam>
As we know many species of butterfly fish form mated pairs. I have two questions which I am not sure you can answer. 1. If one of the pair dies does the other fish find a new mate, or carry on alone, or mourn and die I am particularly interested in Chaetodon Trifasciatus.
<I would tend to believe the remaining fish would pair up with another. 
Why the C. Trifasciatus, an extremely difficult Butterflyfish to keep and an obligatory coral feeder.
 2. How do the fish know what sex the other is as there are no external differences. I imagine it must be a chemical sense?
<There are physical differences in some species and egg bound females tend to be a little plump.  Other than that I will ask Bob to comment here.><<Can't tell in almost all cases I've seen UW. B>>
<Ditto.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Butterflyfish forming mated pairs? Chaetodon Behavior/Sexing 2/28/12

<Hello Adam>
When I swim in my local beach I see many of these butterfly fish and they always seem in pairs.
<Many species do pair up.  Have you been able to identify the species you have seen?>
As we know it is unlikely that they will both live to the same age. Is there an area where they would pair up as the local fish are fully grown at about 5 to 6 inches.
<Likely so.  Bob is an amphibian and dives their waters/observes their behavior often and may input here.>
Therefore once in my area how would they find a new mate, or do they swim over large distances or the currents take them into "communal" zones.
<Butterflyfish generally spawn at early dusk and usually only pairs are involved and this is what you may be seeing depending on the species.
During the reef courtship the fish chase each other around, doing headstands and lateral displays.  A pair will circle each other until one swims off while the other follows.  Juveniles are generally found in shallow grassy areas where they feed.  Some species will form large aggregations and swim over large areas in search of food.  There are many species of Butterflyfish and their personalities/behavior can vary.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Butterflyfish/Compatibility  - 2/11/2006 Hey <Hey to you also.> Please provide me with some names (not scientific names) of suitable butterfly fish which are hardy, stay small, and do not eat corals. <That information is already on the Wet Web Media, do Google search it.> Thank you very much! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

One collare or three? Hi Folks, <Hello there> Once again, mulling through your awesome website on a Saturday.  I have one quick question.  I placed a fish order online this weekend and ordered a Chaetodon collare Butterfly.  To my surprise instead of sending me one.  I was sent 3.  They are going in my 55 gallon Q tank for 2 months before being released into the big daddy tank.  Should I be concerned about fighting?  In the Q tank (which is small)...Or in the main tank which is 300 gallons? Your assistance and advice would be greatly appreciated, Mat <This Butterflyfish species actually gets along quite well with its own kind... I would at least do a pH adjusted freshwater dip, but might be inclined to place them in the larger system if they were on the larger size (let's say four or more inches total length). Bob Fenner>

Collare butterflies Hi Bob, <Matt> Thanks so much for the response.  Are you suggesting not Q-ing these?  They are about 2 and 1/2 to 3 inches in size? <Yes. This species, their size, how you've received them... I would just run them through a prophylactic dip and place them in the main display. Very small chance of disease transmission, too much stress to quarantine...> Also,  Can you tell me their dietary needs? <Please read through the materials posted on www.WetWebMedia.com re such matters. Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Matt

Skittish Butterfly?  I just recently purchased my first butterfly. My question is, are butterfly fish light sensitive?  <Well, some of the species from deeper water might be a bit more "skittish" in high light situations. It's best to research the environment that your particular species originates from, and try to develop a lighting scheme that is similar. Otherwise, you could slowly adapt the fish to a higher lighting scheme, taking your time...>  When the tank light is off the fish swims fine and seems alert, when the light is on it seems to want to hide from it as if the light itself hurts its eyes.  <Well, the issue of the fish's natural environment can come in to play here. There also might be health issues to think about>  I have noticed a light cloudy appearance on one of its eyes. Can you please help me? Debbie  <Well, Debbie- cloudy eyes can be a sign of possible parasitic or other infection. My advice is to continue to observe the fish closely for a few more days. If there are any other accompanying symptoms, such as spots on the skin, rapid respiration, "scratching", loss of appetite, etc., you may be dealing with one of the aforementioned parasitic problems. I'd consult the WWM disease FAQs to confirm what you might be dealing with here. Feel free to write again if you have any further concerns! Regards, Scott F>

Double Sash Butterfly Hi Bob <Michael> I Love your Site I noticed you did not have a pic of one of these, I caught it on Sunday the 7th of December, location Pennington South Africa, Size 1 inch. Regards Michael Engelbrecht <Neat! Nice pic too. Thank you for sending it along. Will post with credit to you. Bob Fenner>

RE: Double Sash Butterfly - Chaetodon marleyi Hi Bob, I see you Posted the pic of the previous e-mail, thanks.  I think It may have been posted in the wrong section under Chaetodon ulietensis <dblsdlbf.htm>   should be Chaetodon marleyi ? Regards Michael <Ahh, thank you for this correction. Will move>   P.S. Thanks for all your help on the site, getting refugium up and running (or flowing ) this week. <Glad to be of assistance. Bob Fenner>


Longnose Butterfly question Dear Mr. Fenner, <Wile... beep beep!> I just started cycling my first SW tank this week, and have been researching fishes to put in it.  I have read CMA from cover to cover. :)  I am a little confused about your general discussion about butterflies compared with your specific discussion on the Longnose Butterfly. <Okay> In the general discussion of butterflies, "tanks that are six months old and older enjoy greater butterfly survivability."  But in the section dedicated to the Longnose, you state "if you are planning to have a Longnose in a new system, put it in as one of the first fishes, perhaps right after the damsels." These two statements seem to contradict one another.  Or, am I supposed to wait six months to put the Longnose in as the second fish in my system?  "Wile E. Coyote" <All butterfly fish species are best placed in aged systems. Wait for them for about this long or longer... And they should be placed (as all marines ideally) in an order of less aggressive fishes first (in other words, soon in a stocking sequence). Bob Fenner>

-Pearlscale butterflies- hi, I have been reading your impeccable advice for about a month now on the WWM website and I'd like to say it's been of great help to me but I think I may have strayed from your advice and listen to the perhaps misleading advice of my local Pet shop advisor. <Don't worry, you're not the first!> You see I have a 36"x24"x15" perhaps not in that order but it's 2 foot high and 15 inches wide, anyway it has about a 30 gallon capacity I'm guessing you're in the states, I'm actually in little old England and I think it's about 34 of your gallons. <Actually, it's just over 56 gallons> Now I started the tank when I was 13 and now I'm 14 so it's about 8 months old now I have two Pearlscale butterflies in this tank they are living together very harmoniously and show no signs of being threats to each other I bought them when they were each 2 inches long and now both are 5 inches each according to most of the articles I've read on your site this tank is much too small for the fish I have but I see no problem so far and I've had the 6 months <They could use some extra swimming room> , as of now I have no problems and neither do my fish but I'd like to read your views on my supposed dilemma. <It would be nice to relocate these fish in to a 4' aquarium. Luckily they're about maximum size. So, if the funds allow, go for a 75 or 90g tank. In reference to the subject line question, your results show well that these fish are easy going and will pair up readily. Good luck! -Kevin>

DBL SADL BF and Maxima Clam? 6/4/03 Good Afternoon Guys! <howdy!> Thanks again for the passion and attention to this hobby!!! <our pleasure truly> I know Butterfly Fish are categorized as suspect with corals. <a wide range of invertebrates can be food/fodder in fact.. sponges, ascidians, mollusks, etc> I have a lovely Dbl Saddle. Can I put a Maxima Clam in our 55 gallon tank with him? <not recommended... more than a small risk> Is it a case of feeding the BF so he won't make a blue plate special out of our Maxima? <alas, no... even with 5 feedings daily, that still leaves many waking hours of natural grazing/foraging behavior> Thanks, C Evans <best regards, Anthony>

Chaetodon xanthurus Hi! <Hello!> I live in France and I've seen your site... <Awesome, I guess it is a small world after all.> I'm looking for information about Chaetodon Xanthurus. Could you tell me if is used to eat polyps or others invertebrates and if you are satisfied about this fish in recifal aquarium... <Don't have much experience with them myself, but Bob does have them on his list of good Butterflyfishes. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Goodchaetodon.htm > Thank you Best regards Stephanie <Here is a response about these fish that I stole from one of Craig's emails, thanks Craig.   "Alright, the info on your Butterfly is this: Chaetodon xanthurus  Bleeker 1857, the Pearlscale or Yellow-Tail (though it's more orange) Butterflyfish. Tropical western Pacific around the Philippines and Indonesia to Japan. A generalized feeder on benthic invertebrates and algae.  I would take this as small amphipods which live in/on well established live rock and sand. The ideal way to do this is to establish a system for some time (some experts suggest a year or more) to get the populations of these essential food items up to speed before they are used as food. To provide food for your Butterfly I would order some vegetation and pods from one of the better retailers and provide plenty of light for the live rock you have to establish more algae. Perhaps start a refugium if you are so inclined. I would recommend looking up your Butterfly fish on WetWebMedia.com under "Good Butterfly fish" " Please use the Google search tool on our site for more information. Best Regards, Gage>

- Twitching Fish - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> I was in my marine fish store today and they had a beautiful threadfin butterfly fish. <Neat.> I was tempted to buy him (he would be my first butterfly) but upon watching him I noticed that every few seconds his head or ventral fins would twitch.  Physically he looked fine, fins intact, color vivid, no red, blotchy, or otherwise strange looking areas.  What would cause this behavior? <Hard to say for certain, but my guess [as I've seen my fish do this too] is that is like a big stretch... like when you wake up in the morning.> I assume I was prudent in not purchasing him. <I don't think it means anything is wrong with the fish.> Had I not studied carefully I wouldn't have seen the odd motions. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated. <If you are uncertain, perhaps put a deposit on the fish and let it stay at the store another week or two, but I wouldn't be concerned.> Thanks, Patrick <Cheers, J -- >

Butterflies Aren't Free Mornin fellas... <Hey there- Scott F. here!> Am getting a tad frustrated with my saltwater tank. 90gallon, live sand, huge canister filter, etc.. Creatures:  2 small clowns, shrimp goby, mandarin goby, small little boxfish, pistol shrimp,  coral banded shrimp, cleaner shrimp - yep, he still hasn't become a cocktail for my CBS, 2 emerald crabs, 45 hermit crabs, 25 snails, had 3 butterfly Aurigas. Everyone is doing just peachy except for my Auriga Butterflies.  I have read on your site that they are pretty hardy fish that are easy to keep. <It certainly has the reputation of being one of the hardiest butterflies for aquariums> Anyhow, I introduced 3 butterflies together 3 weeks ago.  I introduced them appropriately to my tank but did not quarantine them ~ yaya, I know, I just bought a doctor/quarantine tank and will quarantine all new creatures from now on. <Good! You spared yourself from the lecture...  :) > One of them died overnight while the other two were fine.  I then replaced the butterfly with another Auriga.  All 3 were doing well for a week or so, when one day I noticed what appeared to be a criss-cross laceration on the side of one of the butterflies.  He survived a couple of days and then died.  The other two were doing fine... 4 days  after the death of the aforementioned, I noticed another butterfly sitting upright, but at an angle at the bottom of the tank.  He had a small laceration in the bottom of the middle of his side.  Called Big Al's to ask what was up with the Butterflies they were giving me.  Before I even mentioned their behaviors to the guy at Big Al's, he told me that the Butterflies were probably scraping themselves against my liverock because of an itch and that that was the likely cause of their lacerations. <A possibility, for sure...but what's the cause of the "itch"...?> He didn't think anything in my tank would go after the largest of my fishes (the Auriga's).  Ya, my butterflies and only my butterflies over the past two/three weeks had been swimming slowly up to a rock and then quickly slamming their bodies against the rock.  Their is perhaps tiny little bubbled skin marks behind the gills... not sure if it is a bacteria or if it is just the fishes appearance. <Nope- not part of their appearance...under normal circumstances> So, I bought a 20gallon hospital/quarantine tank and used my main tank's water.  Water seems to be ok and now my last two butterflies are in the tank.  I bought "REEF SAFE KICK-ICH" to treat it. <IMO, this stuff is better used as salad dressing than a fish "medication"...and please don't use it in your main tank! It's really a "pepper sauce", intended to make the fish slough off body slime in the hope that the parasites go with it...Also- are you sure that Ich is what you are dealing with? Please verify the illness (assuming it is an illness, not just an injury) before using any medication. Sometimes, administering the wrong medication can be worse than not medicating a fish at all.> This morning, my butterfly with the small laceration on the bottom middle of his side is laying on my hospital tank bottom.  It looks like he has a newly developed sore on his dorsal fin (it's a little reddish).  He can't  swim upright but seems to have a lot of energy.  I left him there while I go to work.  I expect him to be dead when I return from work leaving me one butterfly with no lacerations (but the guy still seems to rub against rocks as I described above). So... questions: a) do you think it is the 'ICK' causing them to rub against the rocks...thus causing the lacerations?? <A possibility- Ich definitely can cause fish to scratch> b) is this REEF SAFE KICK-ICH a good treatment??? <Umm...I don't really have anything nice to say about this stuff...> c) are butterflies really easy to keep?? <IMO, not really! Butterflies need very stable water chemistry, lots of space (Aurigas can reach almost 10 inches!), high oxygen content, brisk circulation, and an established aquarium. They are usually the first fish to decline if your water quality falls off. Aurigas and Long Nosed butterflies are considered the easiest to keep of a rather touchy group> d) any idea why I have had such bad luck with JUST my butterflies??  All other creatures are happy campers. <As above...The species we're discussing are not "difficult", but I would not classify them as "easy", either!> Is their anything I haven't done that I should be doing???  May I have overlooked something?? Please help...Dave <Well, Dave-Quarantine, of course, is the best thing that you can do. Apart from that, selecting good, healthy specimens is very important...These fishes don't always ship well, and can "break down", as Bob likes to say, quite easily...These fishes need lots of space, too-a very important and often overlooked factor in the husbandry of these (and many other) fishes, IMO. Don't be discouraged by this experience. Do review all water parameters, recheck your husbandry procedures (i.e.; water changes, feeding, skimming, etc.), study your future purchases very carefully, and choose healthy specimens that are eating at the store. Go for it. but do read all you can and be prepared for a better run at it this time! You can do it! Good luck!  Scott F.>

The New Starfish... the Missing Butterfly Thanks again...  Every rock was checked, turned around, no crevices big enough for a 3" butterfly.  What the heck? Nothing in top layer of sand...he's gone! <My friend in fish, he's around somewhere. He's either in the tank or on the floor. Just keep up the water test. If he's on the floor you'll smell him soon enough! Good luck! David D.>
Re: The New Starfish... the Missing Butterfly
Curly II found buried under sand...  Man did he stink...  Problem solved, thank you so much for insisting that he was there somewhere! <A 3" fish was probably enough to crash your tank. I sure am glad you found him...Sorry to here of your loss.> Dave <It was my pleasure to serve! Let us know if you have any more problems. David D.<  

Removal of Butterfly I have a 55 gal reef tank. I recently purchased a Raccoon B/F to eat Aiptasia. He/she seems to be nipping at my mushrooms. I would like to get the Raccoon out of the tank. Any suggestions. Will it be ok to move some of the live rock. Thanks <no need to remove rock... One of my favorite ways to trap fishes in a rockscaped aquarium is as follows: take a small Ziploc bag filled with a concentrated slurry of live brine shrimp. Seal the bag closed. Then take a rather large plastic bag (10x22 or bigger), fold the top down a couple of inched to make a rigid collar (you'll see...) and sink the whole bag under water in the reef... making sure to get all air bubbles out. Fluff the large bag out a bit and throw the sealed small bag of brine shrimp (sans air too) into the back of the bag. Then squirt a tiny amount of live brine shrimp at the mouth of the bag. The premise is to lure fishes to the mouth of the bag to feed on the brine shrimp and entice them to swim to the back to take a shot at the "mother lode" in the sealed baggie once into the back they are often confused and run into the bag wall in an attempt to run towards the reef when you go to snatch the bag (you are sitting patiently by the tank). You might take it a step further and tie a slip noose of fishing line under the collar of the bag and run a lead of line to the bark-o-lounger that you are sitting on in wait for the silly twits to swim into the bag. Best regards, Anthony>

Butterfly question <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I have a 75 gal live rock, sand, sump, skimmer, etc with a damsel, a blue regal tang, yellow tang, flame angel, maroon clown, Mandarinfish, l-nosed Hawkfish, a cleaner shrimp, sally l-f crab and a bubble tip anemone. No corals. All stable. I'd love to add a tank-raised saddleback butterfly. Would it be OK with these tank mates? <<Not in this size tank - your tank is full.>> If it's tank-raised, it should eat readily, yes? <<If...>> Would I need to "stuff" food for it, or just broadcast like I do now? <<Well, when you quarantine it, you can make those determinations then and make adjustments, but again, I really advise you not to place anything else into this tank.>> Typically, I feed a mix of frozen brine & frozen formula one. <<You should try to get away from the brine shrimp and use frozen Mysis shrimp instead - brine shrimp, even when soaked and enhanced are still nutritionally hollow - much like potato chips. Mysis are much better.>> Thanks much, Linda <<Cheers, J -- >>

Golden Butterflyfish  Hi,  Is it possible to keep a small Golden Butterflyfish in a 60 gal tank? Thanks  <the tank is way too small and they fare better in mated pairs>

Butterflyfishes Hi Guy's. Thanks to all for previous replies...... Two quick easy questions...... (1) Double saddled butterfly (C. ulietensis).... "If you have a big system, do consider a trio of the Pacific Double-saddles" - Bob Fenner, Conscientious Marine Aquarist. With regard to this: (a) In this context, how big is a "big" system? <180 gallons or more.> (b) Could just two be kept together, rather than a trio. Obviously if a "pair" was available then ideal, but could I just select any two from a group, put them together, and will they group together as though they were a pair.... I am basically hoping to get that "pair" look :-) <Unless they are a bonded pair, I would buy one or three.> (c) Does the same hold true for C. falcula? <Yes> Question 2: Re Lionfish and Flame angels. Simply put, will a volitans eat a flame angel. i.e. if I put an average flame angel in with 2-3" volitans, in a 120 gal (7' long) tank, provide plenty of cover, will the day come when my prized flame angel becomes breakfast, or is this quite unlikely? <You should sit beside your tank with a dinner bell.> I am hoping that by the time the lion grows, the flame will have too, and be just big enough, and a bit to smart to evade capture :-). <Pretty unlikely> I know these 2 questions seem totally unrelated and they sort of are :-) Thanks again for all your help and guidance. Regards, Matt <Have a nice night! -Steven Pro>

Stocking a 30 Hey Bob. Good job on the website. I have a question about my 30 gal. marine tank. I know there can't be to many fish in there, and I have the three damsels I started out with and added a Heniochus butterfly a couple of days ago. He's doing very well. My question is, would it be ok to add a Longnose butterfly with him after a while or should I take out some of the damsels. I really would like to have more than one nice looking fish in there. <Actually, in my opinion, a 30 gallon tank is too small for the Heniochus or the Longnose. I would stick to fish with an adult size of 3" or less. -Steven Pro>

Butterfly fish I have a pair of butterfly fish that were a pair at the store. I have brought them back and placed them into my quarantine tank. Anyhow, as is frequently the case, they no longer appear to be a 'pair', and one is chasing the other around. it hovers around on one end of the 40 gallon tank and every once in awhile goes over to the other side to chase the other one for one lap. I presume its aggressive since the fins come up a bit, then go down. It isn't a constant chase, but a chase it to the other side and stop for a minute chase. Anyhow, should I separate them, or do you think this activity will stop after they figure out no one is going anywhere ? Thanks <Do separate them. May be they're not "pairing" due to changed circumstances (crowding, being moved...), but at any length, there can be no "winner" here. Keep them apart. Bob Fenner> Jim
Re: Butterfly fish
Do you think this is in perpetuity ? When they both clean quarantine after 3 weeks or so and get introduced together, do you think that will improve the situation ? I did make the mistake of getting one, acclimating introducing, and then the other. Separation of one day - which probably caused the problem.. . . One established itself in the 40g tank.. . . <Only time, trying can/will tell> I'm tempted to try again in 2/3 weeks in the main tank since its much larger, but putting them into the tank at the same time. From what I've read, butterflies aren't as bad as angels and tangs and usually are found in groups and not that territorial. . <Mmm... some chaetodonts in some settings (feeding, breeding, migrating, clustering together for predatory cover...) will/do move in groups... not permanently for any species... Many do associate in "pairs" as in two or couples temporarily or permanently in the wild... All are territorial to an extent> you are right, no "winner" here though. .. Jim

Tricky butterfly feeding Hi Anthony, <Cheers!> Thank you for helping me recently to identify my juvenile Chiseltooth Wrasse and my still unknown Pomacentrus sp. Damsel. <very welcome> Seems like I have yet to run out of questions for you! :) <that's quite alright... some folks say I'll never run out of bull...hehe> I was wondering if you have any info on alternative foods for obligate coral polyp eating Butterflyfish? <a very interesting question with no definitive answer just yet. Many species simply will never acclimate to prepared foods/substitutes and will die of a deficiency no matter how much other foods they eat> I am testing foods right now, and any work done by others would be of great help... I didn't see anything on WetWebMedia about this (or anywhere else). <some success with Sweetwater plankton as a part of the staple and HUFA enriched foods (Selcon supplements and the like)> Here's where I stand now: Test subject: Eight banded Butterfly (Chaetodon octofasciatus) Initial food: Goniopora flower pot coral <yikes!> Result: Success (ate the whole thing within 3 days) <good job> With the empty flower pot skeleton, I am now attempting to "load" it with alternative foods to see if I can get the Butterflyfish to eat something that costs less than it does! My first attempt was Formula Two thawed and squished into the empty flower pot cells - The Butterflyfish took one bite and left it alone. Second attempt was extremely finely diced shrimp packed into the cells - Same result as attempt #1. <both have been tried, many have eaten it... still a deficient food> I have had people suggest that I do the above with mussels, <I strongly agree but with different food...> but I was planning on trying it with squid first tomorrow, <a good food but nutritively limited> since I have that on hand. Any comments on all this? <let me know id the Sweetwater plankton product is received well... a very nice food and well liked by picky fishes. > Best regards, Manuel <kindly, Anthony>

Butterfly in the reef tank Hi Steven, The snippet below from one of your recent replies to me (different account) suggested a C. semilarvatus. It's a very pretty butterfly and I have been reading widely looking for reef tank safe butterflies. Your WWM listing for this species suggests it eats polyps and corals, though. I don't mind a little Zoanthid nibbling and I don't keep LPS except for Euphyllias but is this one really a possibility for the reef tank? If the risk isn't too high I think I'd try it but I haven't previously seen it mentioned as a reef tank candidate. <Sorry, I did not pay real close attention to the subject line. The Semilarvatus is not a good choice. I made that suggestion to go with the rest of your Red Sea biotope fish.> As for the ones generally indicated as reef say, the Heniochus don't do anything for me but the long nose are pretty. <The two species of Longnose BF's and the Copperband BF are better choices.> Thanks! Marc <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> A Longnose yellow butterfly or 3-4 yellow "Coris" wrasses for some yellow. (I prefer the butterfly though). Would love a pair but I've yet to see one advertised anywhere or in the LFS. <Get the butterfly. Maybe a Semilarvatus?>
Re: reef fish (Butterflyfishes)
Steve, What are your thoughts on a lemon butterfly fish or threadfin butterfly fish for a reef aquarium? -Jason <The Threadfin is a definite no. The Lemon is marginally better, but may very well pick on some of your inverts. All Butterflyfish are potential problems in a reef tank. One of the best Butterflyfish for a reef would be the Heniochus diphreutes. There are several similar looking Heniochus, so a good reference book will be a must to distinguish them. -Steven Pro>

B/F Hello, Just a quick couple of questions. How would you rate the reef-suitability of the Lemon or Millet-seed Butterfly (Chaetodon miliaris) ? i.e., how risky are they? What are their main trouble areas (e.g., hard corals, anemones, etc.)? <One of the better risks for chaetodonts. I give them a eighty some percent "no-bite" guarantee... unless hungry of course. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Kevin

butterfly and feather duster - compatible? Hi Robert, Great site! I use it whenever I need to research a new addition. <Ah, good to be acknowledged for what one is, hopes to be... this to me (my working definitions) is the essence of "love"> I'm thinking of adding a butterfly to my tank (either a threadfin or lemon.) I have three Hawaiian feather dusters already established. Will they be safe? Or is adding a butterfly a bad idea? <Should be fine with these fish/es... as long as there is food otherwise... a large enough system, lots of live rock, regular feeding... not much likelihood of predation. Bob Fenner> Regards, Kevin Olayan

Butterfly fish Hi Bob, I would like to set up a 120 gallon (4x2x2) butterfly fish tank and would like to know how many I could keep in this size tank and which types would coexist. My favorites are: long nose, saddleback, threadfin and masked. From this list, would it be possible to keep several of the same type ? <In this size system... better to have just a "couple" (as in two) of one of these species, trying another couple with a month break in-between, or one of each after the first couple. The Longnose and Threadfin are best candidates as first choices> Thanks Chris M PS I really enjoyed - and benefited from - reading your book. <Ahh, thank you for these kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

Flies in a reef Hi, Are there any butterflies you think would be reasonably safe in a predominantly SPS tank? Anything that would like xenia? <Yes... the ones on the far end of the nutritional spectrum for chaetodonts as zooplanktivores... these are listed and ranked on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Regards Jason Edward

Butterflyfish system Hello Bob, <Hey there> A great book you wrote (The conscientious Marine Aquarist) and a wonderful web site. I have been in the hobby for over 15 years and finally writing my first book!  <Great! Let me know if I may of service... images, editing, introducing your material/you to the few publishers in the field... or (gulp!) the perils/joys of self-publishing> I value you feedback and any comment you have about my system, so please bear with my rather lengthy e-mail. This is regarding My "Butterflyfish tank". I have a 125 Gallons Acrylic (11 year old system), with custom corner overflow with pre-Filter DLS 6"-8" <Wowzah, we are getting old... the ole' Double Layer Spiral of Dacron...> Diameter by 24"H. Wet/Dry AMiracle SL-250 with bioballs/carbon/Polyfilter industrial Grade. 150 Lbs Of live Rocks-mainly Fiji, 60 Lbs (Bio-Active Aragonite Reef Sand) Live sand. A Mag Drive 700 Pump (rated at 700 G/P/H) located in sump drives a Red Sea Protein Skimmer with Schego 250 Liter/Hour air pump passing by a Sander air dryer and driving a Sander 200Mg Ozonizer controlled by Milwaukee RedOx Controller/meter set at 360-390 mv.  Lighting is 384 watts PowerCompact 2x96 Watts Actinic and 2x96 Watts 6700K Daylight. Also, a 25 watts CustomSeaLife U2-UV sterilizer is located in the sump with a ball valve to slow flow if needed and connected to a Cap1200 pump rated at 500 G/P/H at 1 foot head. The main Circulation Pump is a Mag Drive-12 rated at 1200 G/P/H hooked in line externally to sump Via 3/4" flexible hose with a ball valve. The Fishes: 01-Racoon Butterflyfish (over 3 years) 02-Pakistani Butterfly (over 3 years) 03-Red Sea Golden Butterfly (over a year) 04-Pearscale Butterfly 05-Saddleback Butterfly 06-Yellow Eye/Kole Tang 07-Lawnmower Blenny 08-Flame Angel 09-Cleaner Wrasse (over 2 years in tank) 10-Copperbanded Butterfly 11-Mated pair of Common Clowns Ocellaris (over 7 years) The Invertebrates 01-CLeaner Shrimp 02-Coral Banded Shrimp 03-Emerald Crab 04-Blue Linckia Starfish (2) 05-Sand Burrowing Starfish 06-Orange Knobby Starfish 07-Turbo Snails 08-Bumble Bee Snails 09-Little Snails w/ brownish/orangish lines (>100) 11-Yellowish Starfishes about 1/2 inch long-Several 10-Astrea Snails The Plants 01-Caulerpa prolifera (Heavy growth) 02-Caulerpa Cupressoides (Occupying about 12"-18" in Diameter) 03-Caulerpa Racemosa (Several good size clumps in 4 spots) 04-Halimeda (several plants all over the tank) 05-Green Unknown plant looks like a mini Bonsai tree? Parameters: PH is rock solid and stable at 8.4 day and night. O ammonia, 0 nitrite, < 5 ppm Nitrate (was near 0- I think it's higher because I added 65 Lbs of live rocks a month ago-which I cured in a separate tank). Temp in the summer is 82-84. The Maintenance: I change 5% weekly with premixed, Carbon & poly filtered and aged water (tap) I add tap water (A gallon daily for evaporation with a teaspoon of Baking Soda) In the morning I alternate with Kent Super Buffer pro every other day and Kent 2part A/B Calcium Buffer. I also Add Kent Iodine (Lugol's solution) weekly dividing the dose 1/2 on Mondays and half on Fridays. I "bake the beads" every other day to keep the air dryer working efficiently (Ozonizer is set at 100 mg/h rather than its full capacity of 200). The system is very healthy and disease free, with the clowns spawning almost every other week (no attempt have been made to remove or rear the fry) The Caulerpas are expanding at an incredible rate. The Butterflyfishes are always busy picking at rocks and different type of algae and the big population of little worms and little shrimp-like critters that I see jumping in a crack between two flat rocks. The Questions: 1) When I add a few drops of "Amquel" to my make up water, the RedOx potential dive to 220 from 360-390...also, when I add straight tap water the opposite happen for few minutes...the RedOx goes up to 500 and higher. Is it Ok to add a 24 Hr aged tap water with Baking Soda without dechlorinator? What do you recommend? <A week wait would be better... but the small-relative volumes you change should be no problem... I would skip on the Amquel use.> 2) what's the best way to remove some of the Caulerpa Plant without causing a major damage? Cutting the tips? pulling some out? <Look into some of the "aquascaping tools" available from Germany (like Eheim's tongs) and Japan... and snip/clip it at the bottom near the edges of the colonies> 3) In your onion. would this system support more fish? considering the huge population of rocks and plants and affiance of the ozone and all of the above? Would it be a bad idea to add a yellow tang from my other tank to help thinning the algae growth? <I would leave off with adding more fishes here> 4) About Methylene Blue Fresh Water Dip: I feel that adding a dechlorinator (like Amquel) to a fresh water dip could cancel its effect-what do you think??? <Hmm, interesting question. I guess you could try adding some Amquel to a given volume/concentration of water and Methylene blue, check with a colorimeter or spectrophotometer (to measure absorbance, transmission of light) as an assay to ascertain this> 5) I welcome any comments from you to improve my system!!! <Sounds like you've about optimized all here... Wish folks of your caliber could afford to work in the public aquariums and fish stores. Bob Fenner> Sincerely Bill, (Orange County CA)

Raccoon/trigger compatibility Is the raccoon b/f the best bet among the butterflies as far as holding its own against triggers? <Certainly one of them> I've got unusually docile (and small) Picasso and niger triggers, but I know they might not stay that way forever. Is adding a raccoon to this 75 gallon system a bad idea? <IMO/E yes. Too small a system, too eager fellow tankmates at mealtimes... would you like to have to eat while living in a smallish box with several times-your-size animals (let's say several hundred pound Hyenas) using no-hands? What about sleepy time? Bob Fenner> Thanks

Butterflyfishes Mr. Fenner, My question is concerning Butterflyfishes and Aged tanks. My tank is 3-months old and I got too excited and purchased three Butterflyfish, each at different times, after my tank was cycled. My first one died (long noise) after about 5-days, the Copperband and the blue mask, died with bacteria infections, affecting the sides of their gill area and the mouth. Although my reading's were all excellent, I realize now that introducing butterfly's this early is NOT GOOD, and hurts the pocket book. I just now read that Butterflyfish don't do good in tanks that are not aged properly. Could you please tell me when is the best time to introduce Butterflyfishes? Thanks. <Ahh, sorry to read of your (and the Butterflyfishes) expensive lesson. A good three to six months of operation is best to "age" their systems ahead of introduction. Bob Fenner> Ron

Re: Working on "The Best Livestock..." books Good to hear back from you Bob.....I will put a full court press on the Wrasses...so darn many. Any thoughts on a good angle for the Butterfly Family? <How about a listing in five nutritional categories as to their preference for eating most everything to just eating live coral polyps? A little further lesson in the non-arithmetic nature of the universe... Bob Fenner>

Threadfin Butterfly Bob, Lately I have seen my butterfly shaking his head and flicking. Upon close inspection, I can see on the side of his head at the base of the mouth, there is a raised area (I guess swollen from a parasite or bacteria) the scales in the area are raised. I have tried copper treatment but haven't noticed any change. My question is, what is causing this and what can be done to treat this? thanks <Perhaps the cause of this apparent growth is injury, infectious or parasitic disease, nutritional in origin, developmental/genetic... an avenue I'd explore is the use of biological cleaners. See the sections on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com about these choices, rationale for their use. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly tank Hello Robert! First let me say how much I enjoyed your book. I have been keeping marine (and freshwater) aquaria for about 20 years now, and I still found your book extremely informative. You convinced me of the import of dipping, and since I have read it, I have dipped all of my new fish in Methylene blue/freshwater dip that you recommend....not a parasite in sight! Thanks! <Ah, so satisfying to read. Thank you> Anyway, I have a small reef....55 gal that is doing very well, in fact just a tad too well. I started out with only soft corals, xenia, anthelia, colt leathers, and a few LPS. Anyway after about 6 months, things are just about growing out of the tank. The LFS is not interested in the species I have to offer (o.k. everyone already HAS xenia!). So I had the idea to start a Fish Only tank and use the reef tank as a food source. I particularly want to get rid of the xenia....there is so much and it grows so fast. <Best to excise the extra with a very sharp razor (careful!) or trade the parts of colonies with other less-fortunate hobbyists in your area> So a while ago I set up a spare tank with some live rock and a deep sand bed. All is well, and all is cycled. I have a very minor algae bloom going on right now, but it is dying back already.  <Once again, the virtues of your patient understanding are evident> I have a Raffle's butterfly and a threadfin in the tank right now....both eating and getting along nicely. I placed some xenia in the tank to try it....they nibble on it occasionally, but they don't even keep in step with its growth! I don't even have decent lighting on the FOWLR tank and the stuff is still growing! <Pulsing corals don't appear very palatable to any of the types of marine life regularly offered in the trade> My question is this: do you have any suggesting for butterflies (particularly) or other fish that might eat xenia? I thought It would be a really neat way to keep a species that otherwise would be difficult. I thank you for your time, and for your book, and for your very informative web site! Jim Coughlin New York, NY <None really my friend, other than the suggestions offered... to trade/share your wealth with others, or cut and remove the excess. Predatory organisms that might be tried, could unhappily prey on your other livestock. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly tankmates  Mr. Fenner,  I rely heavily on your book "conscientious marine aquarist" to get the basic information before I make any livestock purchase. <Good idea... can't argue against this practice... but would definitely not rely on any one source in our hobby... even my own!> I have a 3" auriga butterfly in a 55g FO tank. I would like to get a dwarf lionfish or small Picasso Triggerfish next. But in the Butterflyfish section of your book, I just noticed that you mentioned NOT to keep butterfly with any lionfish or trigger fish. Why is that?  <Hmm, the former I don't follow... What page is this stated on? The latter makes sense to me... Triggers are typically too aggressive, too eager eaters... either overly frightening butterflies, or depriving them of sustenance... It may well be that the confusion with the other item has to do with a general opinion about keeping Lionfishes and triggers together... about the same logic applies.> Is it because large volitans lion may eat small Butterflyfish?  <That would be about the only broad reason I can think of...> If that's the reason, would a small dwarf lion okay with a butterfly that's larger? <Should be, yes> Also Picasso Trigger is supposed to be the mild temper triggerfish in the family. If I get a 2" small Picasso and let it grow with the auriga, would it work?  <Not a good bet IMO... you will find it might be inhaled by even a seemingly too-small Lion... and that it in turn may become quite aggressive as previously stated... even when small.> If you said that because lion and trigger are messy eaters while  Butterflyfish require good water condition, with a CPR Bak-Pak and lots of Caulerpa in the tank, and not overfeeding, is it likely to keep the water condition good enough for the three?  Thanks. Jason  <Your filtration/system should be fine as you describe it... but I would still leave a Trigger out of here... and look to other, more suitable fish groups. Read over the selection pieces, surveys posted on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com for much more input... though still from this same old source... Bob Fenner>

Butterflies Hello Bob, Thank you for your response with the question about Koran angels. I still have a few more questions though. :) I am planning to set up a reef tank and I would like to stock it with some butterflies. I know the majority of them are not reef safe but are there any that are? Last question I promise, are butterflies compatible with Tangs? Thank you for your time. Peter <My scoring of Butterflyfishes and Surgeons can be found on the www.wetwebmedia.com site in a few places... Do make a large pot of tea/coffee and fill up your printer with paper... The hardier B/F's can indeed be kept with the more suitable Acanthurids. Bob Fenner>

Hey Bob, The last time I talked to you I was getting a tidepool for my 90, not anymore. I am going with an under the tank sump, Turboflotor 100 skimmer and 135 lbs of live rock from FFExpress. Sound OK? <Better all the way around> Will these fish get along: Golden Butterfly, 3"; Collare Butterfly, 2"(how come FFExpress does not sell this fish?) <Don't know. A beauty, and hardy as far as Butterflyfishes go.> ; Desjardin, (Red Sea), 2"; Powder Blue Surgeon, 2"; Flame Angel, 2"; Coral Beauty, 2"; Hippo Tang, 1"; and two Maroon Clowns, each 1"? <Wait a good few months before trying the Powder Blue (Acanthurus leucosternon). Don't like unstable, new systems> These are all "Must Have" fishes for me......but, I want to put these in a reef type situation. Will any of these fish eat clams/soft corals/anemone/etc?  <Good odds this assemblage will leave these alone> In your book you say that "Most" Butterflies will not get along in a reef because they will eat everything...please tell me that the two that I want will be OK in a reef tank. (90 gal.) <Can only try. As I say, starting with smaller individuals, large system, lots of live rock, there is a good chance they'd leave the desired invertebrates be.> Thanks Bob!! Harold >> You're welcome, Bob Fenner

Trigger, Butterfly, Clown, and Tang Mr. Fenner, I would like to thank you for your devotion to the education of beginning marine aquarist, all of San Diego is proud. Reading your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist (an excellent book that I recommend to everyone, including non-fish people), I was excited by your evaluation of some Butterflyfishes, in particular the long-nosed, threadfin, and pacific Double-saddle.& I would like to add one of these to my 60G long fish only with live rock (+30G sump w/live rock) that has been running for 11 months, currently only containing a Juv. Picasso Trigger (~2.5.)& If i purchase a butterfly that is larger than the trigger; will I have a good chance of success? Also, I thought a Maroon clownfish (without anemone - hopefully tank bred) and a Kole tang might be nice additions to round out the tank; Is this a recipe for success or disaster? What other choice would you suggest for a 60g tank with a juv. trigger? Thank you very much, Todd Titera >> Thank you for your encouraging words (head's so swollen I can't get out of the office now!). I suspect the Picasso (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) will/would get along fine with any of these three Butterflyfish species... but would give heavier weight to Longnose species (either), as the other two get quite larger, faster... requiring more space. The Kole should do fine, and I would encourage you to keep with this "Hawaiian theme", and look through the section devoted to fishes of this area cited below. Bob Fenner, who refers you to the pieces on these fishes stored at the site: Home Page

Angels&butterflies Are there any Angels or butterflies that get along with their own species, like form a school in your tank. Thanks >> Hmm, well yes... sort of thinking a little funny myself this AM... Obviously they all get along to some degree in the wild... So, how to give a satisfying answer... Well, depends on the size (the bigger the better), and amount of decor/break-up of the environment therein (again, the more the merrier)... but to the extent that the system is large and diverse habitat wise, you can keep all species of angels and butterflies with their own kind. Now, I know what you really were asking, so let's get to that... In the small size systems that most everyone has, what sorts of angel and Butterflyfish species are most likely to mix with their own kind? Top choices in Angels are the "Dwarf" genera, Centropyge and Genicanthus... and even these really do best in larger systems... You'd get 50/50 odds from me that 2 would get along in something as small as a fifty gallon tank... and about the same for three in a 75 gallon... and almost 90% chance of success with a hundred gallon or more... And for butterflies, the best species would be Heniochus.. either H. acuminatus or H. diphreutes... very nice in a grouping in a moderate sized system... And let's list one other. One of my top three B/Fs from Hawai'i, the Raccoon, Chaetodon lunula...  Want more? Maybe take a look at the mix of articles on these two marine families posted at the www.wetwebmedia.com site. There's a bunch. Bob Fenner

I just received your book. Wow it contains many very useful info. In your book, you said all Chaetodon will eat anemones. I plan to get a Raccoon Butterfly in a tank with a bubble-tip anemone. Will the butterfly eat the anemone with some Clarkii clownfish on it? Will the clownfish protect the anemone from being eaten? How about a Long-nose Butterfly (Forcipiger  flavissimus) with a bubble-tip anemone? What is your recommendation for a detritus eater in a fish-only setup?  Thanks for your help Bob. >> Thank you for writing, even without the glowing endorsement ;) In the wild, Clownfishes do indeed protect their anemones... and in tests where the Clowns are removed, most anemones are consumed... often by Chaetodons... The lunula (Raccoon) is a good choice for trying though... as it is almost exclusively a zooplanktivore... and I would give you good odds if the anemone is already in place and the Clarkii's associating with it. The two Butterflyfishes of the genus Forcipiger are excellent as well. My recommendation for a detritus feeder in a fish-only set up? Actually, the aquarist... by setting up the tank with adequate circulation (powerheads, small submersible pumps... in addition to other fluid-moving devices)... and periodic maintenance like gravel vacuuming... There are scavengers... but these can be a bit tricky. Bob Fenner, who refers you to articles on Raccoon, Longnose B/Fs, and Marine Scavengers archived at www.wetwebmedia.com

hi Bob: I have a 90 gal full of live rock and corals, and recently I acquired a butterfly fish (Chaetodon auriga) from a friend. It is currently in the 60 gal sump. I wonder if it is reef-safe, that is, will it cause damage to corals ? It seem to pick on live rock in the sump constantly, and I know it eats coral polyp sometimes... Other things in the 90 gal are feather duster, Xmas tree worm, clams, coral banded shrimps, etc. TIA. >> Auriga, aka Threadfin Butterflyfishes are one of my faves. I give you the best of chances that it will not do damage to your corals. Most specimens of this Chaetodont family member are happy zooplanktivores in the wild and captivity. If really starved, it might eat your worms, but not those shrimp. Bob Fenner

bob what the different in a white face butterfly and a red face butterfly  I'm sorry I don't know the correct name for these butterfly fish I would  appreciate a answer thank Tony in Cincinnati Ohio >> The White-Faced B/F (Chaetodon mesoleucos) is a hardy (as Butterflyfishes go) fish that hails from the Red Sea down to Oman in the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Aden)... the Red (or Orange)-Face Butterflyfish (C. larvatus) is a heartbreak, though beautiful species that rarely lives in captivity (it feeds exclusively on Acropora polyps) from about the same distribution...  Bob Fenner in San Diego, California

Copperband butterfly   Hello ... I am relatively new at marine aquariums, but will not give up! I have a 75 gallon tank and recently purchased a Copperband butterfly. It is spectacular, but I am having a problem getting it to eat anything. I don't know what to try next ... any suggestions? I live in a very rural area and may need to have special food ordered. Thanks for your help! Tom >> Yikester, Copperbands (Chelmon rostrata) are not an easy species overall, and once they stop eating, or never start, there can be only one (disagreeable) end in sight. On the other hand, I do have friends who have had this beauty for years, and even hand-feed theirs. Often when new, very fresh foodstuffs are necessary to stir the specimen into adjusting to captivity. I've seen bloodworms, Tubifex (yes, both these in saltwater), an opened clam, mussel do the trick. Do you have live rock? Any chance that a fellow "reefer" might have some live Mysid or caprellid shrimp in a sump they'd give you? Ask your dealer about bringing in some cultures from Kordon corporation. Have them contact me for more information if they can't find Dr. Rofen's business in San Francisco. Bob Fenner

Pearl Scale butterfly not eating I recently bought a Pearlscale butterfly, and he seems very healthy other than the fact that he doesn't seem to be eating. I have tried a wide variety of food, and he doesn't seem interested. He seems to want to graze and even tries to eat the bubbles that are floating around the tank and which accumulate on the corals. I put a small piece of live rock for him to pick at, and occasionally he will, but his stomach is still getting thin. Is there anything I can do at this point? Thank you for any suggestions you might have. Sincerely, Ronnie >> This is one of the many species of Butterflyfishes that can do well if/when it learns to accept foods in captivity. Do you have other fishes in the tank that can help "teach" this one what foods are? Often, damsels are great for this... The Sergeant Majors (any species, just small to start with) are some of my faves, but Dascyllus and Chromis will work too. Do try other live foods, like brine shrimp (soaked in vitamins) and Tubifex (I know they're freshwater, but they work) draped over some rock, coral decor. Any other live food (daphnia, glass worms) are worth trying as well. Once the specimen is eating enough of these foods, it should be able to be trained onto dry and frozen (defrosted) fare. Bob Fenner

Question: What do Chaetodon larvatus, Chaetodon melannotus, and Chaetodon austriacus like to eat. All of these fish are butterflies so even an approximation will do, their common names are Orange Face (Copper Band), Spot Tail and Austriacus butterfly. Bob's Answer: Hey Ali! these Chaetodons are all the height of the hardest to keep in captivity my man! The larvatus, melannotus and austriacus are mainly corallivores. Yeah, they eat live coral polyps...  

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
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