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FAQs on Genus Chaetodon Butterflyfishes, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 

Related Articles: Chaetodon Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs:  FAQs 1, FAQs 2, Chaetodon Identification, Chaetodon Behavior, Chaetodon Compatibility, Chaetodon Selection, Chaetodon Systems, Chaetodon Disease, Chaetodon Reproduction, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Disease, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

The presence of other life may boost or mal-affect feeding.

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

Chaetodon tinkeri      5/13/17
I have a C. tinkeri that after eating is temporarily reclusive and breathes heavily - what does this mean? He ate too much/quickly?
<Mmm; maybe... but other possibilities loom greater. Do you have sufficient dissolved oxygen...? No problems with allelopathy... fighting amongst... Cnidarians in this system?....>
I've had this fish for over a year, physically perfect, fecal looks good, tank temp 76.5-77.5F. There's some competition in the tank, my guess is he eats too quickly, this is a relatively new behavior.
Eating mostly seafood.
<Not a Thiaminase issue I hope/trust. Search this word on WWM. Read Marco's article Re.>
<Bob Fenner, out on Kona currently; perhaps seeing this endemic on the morrow.>

Mud Mix Or Sugar Sand/Chaetodon Feeding 1/17/11
<Hi Paul>
Refugium question... What is the best media to put in one.... Fine sugar sand 3" base or the Miracle Mud, Kent Marine Mud........ or 2" of mud with 1 " sugar sand on top. Do you have any other suggestions.... Just a fish only Marine tank. Also will the mud leave a hazy in the water as it seems easy to stir up?
<Personally I prefer Miracle Mud but either will work just fine. I've used the Miracle Mud in the past and I didn't experience hazy water, just need to shut the flow off until the residue settles and you should be fine.>
#2 Black Back Butterfly hard to keep. I see some on utube <You Tube> and they eat like crazy... all the ones I see in a store don't eat or look good. How do you get a good one if it is possible to keep these?
<If there were a top 10 list of best butterflies to keep, the Chaetodon melannotus would be one of them. You need to ensure the fish is eating and looks good before buying.>
I know you will probably say they are a hard fish to ship.... So if I want one do I just keep trying until I get one to live...
<as stated above>
I always ask the fish store to feed them, but they never eat... so I am just wondering how come I see so many on utube eating??
<That's funny, I did a You Tube search and I only came up with two videos and neither one showed them eating, basically just tank videos.
If you can find a healthy one eating at the store, then acclimation should not be too difficult. It's possible the store employee may have not been feeding foods to
it's liking. Best results acclimating to prepared foods comes from feeding a variety of frozen foods in small amounts several times daily. Once they begin eating they will gradually
accept most foods. Read here and the feeding FAQs found in the header.
Thank you for your help.
<You're welcome.>
Great site, good information even better reply emails....
<Thank you for your kind words. James (Salty Dog)>

Feeding Tinkers Butterfly   1/3/08 Hi Bob, maybe you can help me here. I recently purchased a Tinkers Butterfly about 4 days ago. He has been at the LFS for two months eating like a total pig every time I asked the LFS to feed him. Well right before I bought him he was eating. After I got him home after acclimation he was eating like a pig with PE Mysis soaked in Selcon and attacking my Spaghetti leather chomping that up. And for some reason two days after him eating he stopped feeding. <Not digestible...> No one is bullying him, He looks at the PE Mysis soaked in Selcon but doesn't eat it. You have any suggestions that I can get him feeding? <Time going by really... will likely resume eating the Mysis in a few days> He shares a 120 gallon with a Mitratus butterfly who is half of his size and a group of different fairy wrasses. I don't think its Flukes or internal worms but I am tempted to quarantine him with some Prazi pro just in case. Any suggestions would be helpful. Scott <I would leave this (expensivo) specimen in place... and try to be patient... All will very likely be well in time here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Pearlscale Butterfly Hi Bob. I Loved your book! I have 2 questions... I have had some fair success so far in keeping a fairly new Pearlscale butterfly, (4 weeks thus far) in a 72 gallon bowfront tank with a 12" refugium miracle mud sump growing plenty of Caulerpa and about 80 pounds of live rock. The Pearlscale has been eating plenty of Formula One and frozen Plankton treated with 2 drops of Garlic Elixir w/vitamins since day 1. Is this adequate enough of a food source? <Maybe... along with what it gets from live rock, your refugium should be fine> I was told that the Pearlscale's diet should consist of polyps or other invertebrates in order to stay healthy to keep. Is what I am feeding him enough? <Probably so... one of the hardier/aquarium chaetodonts. Please see my review of the families members: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm > I should also mention that I have plenty of Copepods coming into the main tank from the sump (which I guess is a good breeding ground for Copepods). Will he eat the Copepods too? <Yes> Also, I was planning on getting a beautiful small Blueface Angel to be his tankmate in a few weeks as a xmas gift. Is the Blueface ok with this butterfly or will he intimidate the butterfly? <A seventy two gallon system will be too small for this species of Angel... it may disturb the other fishes... depending on its individual temperament, starting size.> My other fish are...1 med. ocellaris clown and 2 - 4 stripe damsels. Thanks! <Bob Fenner>

Butterfly food Didn't have any luck on the forum on this one yet... I've got this new Declivis downstairs in quarantine... I guess five days so far. Obviously we've got some time to go but I'm trying very hard to stick to the "often and varied" thing, although the work week keeps "often" down a bit Mon-Fri. Not really having any luck with the "varied" thing [have tried at least 10 different foods]... am really trying everything I have and only get nibbles and then disfavor. Very excited to eat, but then less psyched about the fare... the one thing that does work with any consistency is Formula One frozen which is a mix food, but it still doesn't eat much at any particular sitting. <Mmmm> Am working on the worm thing... so far know that frozen blood worms are out, but perhaps will be successful finding some grindals or (?) - night crawlers perhaps? Any other food suggestions to try? <Small enough to not have to tear> Also a side chance that there is copepod supplementation that I don't see, but I know they live in the quarantine tank [never been dosed with anything toxic] so perhaps... is a skinny fish. <Maybe> Anyway - my main workstation is out of commission for the moment for a long overdue rebuild. Once done I'll get on to the numerous writing items on the plate. Talk to you soon. <Ah, good... if push comes to shove, I would pH-adjusted freshwater dip and simply place this B/F... they're relatively parasite free... Bob Fenner> Cheers. J --

Re: butterfly food Hmmm... this guy has always been a fast breather, especially in comparison to the neon goby that is in there with him. <This is so, general for the species, family of chaetodonts> Tank conditions are all good, with small weekly water changes the norm... anyway, this morning the Declivis is wigging, and decidedly not interested in food and breathing a little faster. Again, not seen in the neon goby. So... am I to understand that the early placement would be better for overall psyche? <Yes, absolutely> - he's already been dipped once and would be again before introduction. Was prepared to quarantine for a month, so a week would be early, but the main tank is certainly larger and more varied. <Yes> Am somewhat concerned, but should probably head to work, and deal later [as opposed to the opposite]; gotta finish fixing my broken computer. This guy has bugged out like this before, and it's been quite temporary each time so this could also be one of those moments. <Hopefully this is just another temporary situation> Thanks again as always. Were you going to need help over the holidays? <Likely... am a bit sick with a cold, but probably out to NJ and a land line connection... for the holidays (22-27 I think). Will be begging if so... interested? Bob Fenner> Cheers, J --

Re: butterfly food I was thinking, maybe you need a pH adjusted freshwater dip... might fix that cold ;-) <Perhaps> Report back on the Declivis - dip and move done, man, if I thought Spike was wigging before, there's nothing like floating around like a zombie in a bucket to get your heart going. He's doing better now and making the adjustment to the tank. All is as well as could be expected. Will be downstairs watching. <Very well. Bob Fenner> Cheers. J --

Re: butterfly food Uh oh... not too good - dead this AM. Sadness. <Yikes. Sorry to hear of your loss. Bob Fenner>

Chaetodon larvatus Hello, I saw the photo you took of a Chaetodon larvatus, and it said it was taken in a public aquarium. I was wondering if you remember where. I was under the impression these couldn't be kept in captivity due to their specialized diet... if you know anything about this please enlighten me as they are my favorite fish. =) Thanks, -Misty <I have a few pix of this species in retail settings around the US and in a few public aquariums in Europe... not easily kept as you note, principally due to restricted corallivorous diets. Can be special ordered from Marine Center I believe. Bob Fenner>

More on the Roa, Chaetodon mitratus Hi guys, <Brandon> I'm still working with my cute as a button 2" specimen of C. mitratus. As mentioned in the previous question, my attempts at feeding him have still failed. <Though the members of this subgenus are remarkably aquarium "tough", a 2" individual is too small... 3-4 inches overall is ideal to start> A brief recap, purchased from Marine Center about 2 weeks ago, shipped excellent. Within 10 minutes of acclimation was exhibiting natural behavior of picking at rocks in full view. I have tried meaty pellet food soaked in Selcon, no interest at all. I've tried frozen Mysis shrimp, to which he swims directly up to, almost examining it, then leaves it alone to start picking at liverock again. <May well be deriving sufficient nutrition from the rock> The only thing I've gotten him to eat are live brine on two occasions. Even that was a weird experience. Instead of absolutely gorging itself like all other fish I've seen, it ate a couple will little gusto. It is constantly picking at the rock, showing me a desire to feed. I have a fairly high amphipod population, but should that be enough that it wouldn't care about easy handouts at the trough? Seems to be in great health, not terribly shy. Only housed with a similarly sized P. hepatus. <Does the specimen appear very thin?> An off the record question: do you guys, if you aren't sure, or for further advice, have access to Scott Michael's email? I'm sure he is probably a friend of Bob's, and I know he has much expertise with Roa butterfly's. I'm not asking for the email address myself, but maybe a forward if you wish. Please do not get me wrong, I am in no way implying that this staff isn't capable, I'm just worried and varied opinions often produce results as someone may have had a similar situation. <I have Bcc'd Scott here. Bob Fenner> Thanks gang, I'm just worried about this precious fish. 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>  

Baby Spotfin Butterfly's off of Joisee~! Fdg.   12/16/06 Bob, <Hi Eric, Michelle with you today.> Hope you can steer me in the right direction as you always do! <Hope I can help.> In August while scuba diving off the coast of Belmar, NJ I caught 2 Spotfin Butterfly Fish.   <Yes, I was there!> I brought them home, acclimated them, and let them go in my 55 gallon Caribbean style Isotope.  These 2 little guys share a home with 2 purple Chromis and a neon goby.  For the last 4 months the fish were doing great.  They grew from the size of a dime to about the size of a half dollar.   <Great to hear!  Not an easy fish to keep.> I got them feeding on mussels as they will not eat Mysis or anything that floats in the water column.  These guys just like to pick and I mean pick on anything haha. (brain corals, Gorgonia polyps, Zoanthids)   <Mmmm...appetizer, possible appetite stimulant?> However I don't mind though as these 2 fish's are my pride and joy.   <A proud Papa!> Here is the bad news now though.  In a attempt to give my fish a healthy diet I decided for the first time to soak a mussel in garlic and Selcon.   <Good intentions.> The butterfly's ate it but will not look at another one again. <Hopefully a temporary aversion.> This has been going on for almost 2 days now.  I am very nervous. <Understandably>   They do not even seem to be as active as they were before and I am very worried.   <Understandably> I don't really see any aggression with my other fish but I am not home most of the day.  Is it possible that the garlic created some type of taste aversion to these fish.   <Theoretically, possible, garlic has a lasting capacity.> It is the only thing I can tie this into.   <Seems like a reasonable assumption.> I also did a small water change last night think this may help out a bit. <I think another water change could be helpful, maybe several small one over the next few days.> Any ideas on what else I can do?   <Can you offer something else from the inlet where they were living, i.e. different type of mussel, clam, barnacles?> Is it possible that the fish are just full and not hungry? <Did they generally eat daily until this point?>     Water Test:   Ammonia - 0   Nitrite- 0   Nitrate- 10 <This is a higher than desired>   SG 1.025   PH 8.3   Thanks, <You are welcome, keep us updated. -Michelle>
Re: Baby Spotfin Butterfly's   12/16/06 Michelle, That is awesome that you were there as well.   <AKA Poconofishy> Did you dive at all?   <Not then, was just certified in November in Hawaii.> Great News!  They are eating black worms.   <Yay!  Polychaetes such as feather dusters (Sabellid tentacles) and spaghetti worms (Terebellid tentacles) are a natural part of their diet.> Its better than nothing though right?   <Absolutely, keeping them eating is far better than the alternative!> Do you know what makes these fish difficult to keep?   <Sensitivity to stress and challenging diet, I believe are the biggest issues.> I did come to realize that no one sells this fish online or locally.  For such a nice looking well behaved fish I was shocked.   <This is quite a difficult fish to keep.> Do you know if this fish is capable of breeding in the aquaria?   <Theoretically is obviously possible, but I am unaware of any success in this area.> I believe I have a mated pair!   <Likely so.> They follow each other around everywhere, never separated by more than a few inches.  Is this possible at such a young age?   <Yes.> Or is this normal behavior for this species?   <Yes.> I thought I read somewhere that these fish form mated pairs very early in life and will stay like that for the remainder? <Yes, it has been reported that Spotfin Butterflies (Chaetodon ocellatus) mate for life. BTW-  just installed a remote fuge with a DSB to combat the nitrates.  Should get these down pretty quick. <Excellent, seed is with some spaghetti worms, to provide additional food items for your Spotfin Butterflies.> Thanks,

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