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Related Articles: Heniochus Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Banner Butterflyfishes, Heniochus Identification, Heniochus Behavior, Heniochus Compatibility, Heniochus Selection, Heniochus Feeding, Heniochus Disease, Heniochus Reproduction, Chaetodonts: Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Disease, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

Butterflyfishes need calm settings and plenty of psychological room.

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

Longfin Bannerfish For Beginner?/Heniochus /Systems/Compatibility 5/2/2011
My first aquarium, a 65 gallon Red Sea Max 250 that is two months past completion of cycling, now has 4 happy fish in it: a mated pair of Ocellaris Clownfish, and a possibly mated pair of Banggai Cardinalfish.
<Sounds good.>
They are all happy, healthy, and getting along well. Water quality is flawless, with even nitrate at zero. So I am now looking to add another fish, or ideally a pair (I like seeing pairs swimming around together). So I've spent the last two weeks studying books, online sites like this, and online fish stores, in my quest for a variety that is interesting to look at, outgoing (as opposed to spending its life hiding in a cave), and safe for a beginner like me.
I found my choice in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"... Heniochus Acuminatus. It got good health and personality recommendations there, with tank requirement of 15-20 gallons per fish. Perfect.
To be sure, I checked my two favorite online fish stores. Both listed it as "easy care" and one said minimum tank size 30 gallons, the other 20 gallons. Great.
But then I checked other books and things fell apart. In "The Marine Aquarium Problem Solver" the author Nick Dakin said of Acuminatus, "Not for beginners but relatively easy for the fishkeeper with some experience." In "The New Marine Aquarium" the author Michael Paletta says of recommended species , "In my experience, none of the Butterflyfishes should be considered a good beginners fish." Unfortunately, neither of these authors said WHY this fish is not for beginners!
<Likely because beginner systems are "new", that is not aged and the hobbyist has not attained enough knowledge to have some degree of success with these fish. Heniochus species, as well as all Butterflyfish, do not do well in newer systems but prefer aged systems with plenty of developed live rock. This specie is not a difficult fish to keep in an established system providing it's needs are met.>
So... I don't want to kill an innocent fish because of my lack of experience, but this fish really caught my fancy. What do you think? Can I safely complete my stock with one of these. Or, ideally, a pair?
<Sure, but hold off until you get some age on the system, 5-6 months. With continued reading/learning, you will also have acquired more knowledge during this time.>
Thanks for any advice!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
And of course, if you feel inclined to suggest an alternative that would be interesting, outgoing, and easy care, I'll listen. One thing that none of the books or online fish stores cover to my liking is personality. I think that's the sort of advice best obtained from experienced people.
<Yes, but you are seeking information, not personality.><<Mmm, referring to the livestock? B>>

Heniochus Concern, Too Much Fish, Too Little Space!     2/23/07 Hi all - <Hi Jim, Mich here.> I'm concerned about my Heniochus.  He's withdrawn to the top corner of my tank - near the filter unit, and doesn't seem too adventurous, swimming the entire tank anymore.  He's active enough - when feeding time comes, eating well.  The tank water is fine - just did a partial change, checked everything and it's good.   It's an established 60 Gal FOWLR, with a couple damsels, the Heni and a blue tang.   <Too much fish, not enough psychological space.> Both the Heni and the tang are small - about 4 inches, with the Heni a bit bigger.  I have the suspicion that the Heni is bothered by something.   <Yes, likely his cramped quarters.> The damsels are afraid of the larger Heni & tang, so they're not the issue - and I haven't seen the tang display any aggression, either.  There are no bite marks - no ripped or frayed fins on the Heni, so if someone is picking/bullying him, I don't know who it is.   <Sounds like a good bit of stress in the tank with even the damsels in hiding.> I'm surprised, actually, because for the five months I've had the Heni & tang (got them the same day), the Heni has always been bigger and more "assertive" in the tank.  I always thought he/she was the boss!  So, I'm now wondering what's up?  I've tried different foods, changed water, rearranged the rock - but the Heni still doesn't want to swim the entire tank freely anymore.  It's as if he's sulking to the corner top or bottom, and is being pressured somehow.  I had thought he was sick at first - but when it's feeding time, he's his old, assertive self, pushing his way into the feeding frenzy! I was wondering if this was normal?   <Normal for a stressed fish.> Any ideas?  IF you think perhaps the tang is pressuring the Heni - should I get another Heni to solve the problem <NO! Even more crowded!> or get rid of the tang?  (HATE to do that!)   <I know you won't like hearing this, so I am sorry, but both fish belong in bigger homes.> Any ideas or advice is most welcome!!! <Both of these fish should be kept in tanks that are at least 100 gallons.  Like an adult sleeping in a crib, it just doesn't work very well.  Have you considered upgrading?> Thanks! <You're welcome.  -Mich> Jim

Heniochus acuminatus approp. tank size   12/17/06 Hello again Mich, <Tom, my friend, hello to you.> Well, as much as I would LOVE to start a giant tank, like you said, it is quite hard on the pocketbook. <Yep!  I hear you!> A little too hard for my liking. <I understand!> Well today's question is about Heniochus acuminatus. <Alrighty then.> On your site it says that this type of butterfly needs a minimum tank size of 15 or 20 gallons. <Hmmm, I read this also.  Seems kind of small> Is this really true? Or did they mean to say 150 or 200 gallon tanks? <This was my initial thought also.  I have seen references of this fish reaching lengths of nearly 10 inches.> If they can really live in a 15 or 20G do you think I would be able to keep a group (2-3) in a 90G tank? <According to what RMF has previously posted, yes in theory this should be OK.  RMF, this is correct?> <<Yes. RMF>> I read that they live in groups in the sea but do you think that they would get along in an aquarium? <Yes, in theory.> Thanks for your time. <You are quite welcome.> Please do tell me if I am taking up too much of your time. I'm guessing you don't get paid so I don't want to take advantage of you. <I have very much enjoyed our exchanges, the pleasure is mine!  I look forward to more.> I hope you had a great weekend. <And you also!  -Mich> Tom

Banner Fish Not "banner" Reef Citizen  Hi gang, We have a 55 gal. w/80 lbs live rock. Currently there are 3 Perc. clowns, a blue damsel, a lemon peel angel, hi-fin goby & pistol shrimp, a blood shrimp and sea star. We would like to add a pair of Long Fin Banner fish. There are mixed reviews on required gallons for these fish and we want to make sure that 1. we won't have too many fish, and 2. they won't become too large for our tank. Any suggestions???  <The Heniochus can attain a length of up to 10" in it's hometown. Most are sold from 2 1/2 to 3". A 50 would be all right for a while but as they grow they will need larger quarters. I might point out to you that if you have nice rock with fan worms, other nice stuff, then this fish isn't for you. They will pick at rocks looking for goodies and are not considered reef safe. James (Salty Dog)> 

Heniochus systems 9/21/05 Hey Bob how's it going? <Ooh, he summons the master and gets the rookie, Adam J here with you tonight.> I was wondering how many Heniochus acuminatus (since they're not as demanding as a lot of marine fish) I can put in a 65g FOWLR? <Unfortunately I cannot recommend any Heniochus Acuminatus, these fish get large (10' long and over 12' tall) and need LOTS of swimming room, I cannot recommend less than a US 100 gallon tank minimum for one specimen let alone a school.>   There's is plenty of space with the live rock being pushed close to the back of the tank and the Heniochus will be the only species in the tank. <Unfortunately the confines are still too small.>   My mom really likes them and that's all she wants to have.  She would prefer a school of them of two or more.  Will they school in a 65g? <See above.>   Thanks. Sincerely, Jay <Adam J.> If not, what about Heniochus diphreutes, since their maximum size is smaller than the acuminatus? <Honestly, I am still of the opinion that this species and its genus in general are inappropriate specimens for your set up.> <Adam J.>
Re: Heniochus  9/21/05
Thanks Adam, but I think I'd like to get Bob's feedback on this.  On several pieces of literature it states that Heniochus needs 15 to 20 gal per copy.  Also says minimum tank size requirement is 50gal.  Lastly, it states on an FAQ that a person with a 70gal tank can have a maximum of two Heniochus, so am assuming it'd be the same rule for a 65g or at least one.  I'd like Bob to reply to my original email if possible. Thanks, Jay <Mmm, bigger would be better, but a small H. acuminatus could be fitted into a fifty temporarily. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Heniochus Butterfly...Worms In My Live Rock - 02/18/06 Good afternoon! <<Hello...evening here>> I read on your site that Heniochus Butterfly fish require 15 to 20 gallons (minimum) per copy.  Does this mean that I can add 2 to a 72 gallon tank? <<Possibly...depending on what else is in/going in to the tank.  There are about a dozen different species of Heniochus but the two most commonly available are H. acuminatus and H. diphreutes...I assume you refer to one of these? >> Also, I purchased some live rock from a dealer on the internet, the owner said that he was sending fully cured rock but there were worms in it (or at least they resembled worms). <<Very normal, desirable even.>> I managed to pull most of them out except one. <<Why?>> I put the live rock in the tank.  The rock has been in there approx. 2 weeks.  Do you think I should look for the rock and try to get the worm out again? <<Nope>> I am a little afraid that this will affect my tank in the long run. <<Doubtful...wouldn't worry about it.  Regards EricR>>
Heniochus Stocking Question - 03/31/06
Hi! <<Hello!>> A little over a month ago, I emailed you concerning adding 2 Heniochus Butterfly fish to a 72 gallon tank.  You said that it would be possible, depending on what else was going in.  The fish that I am referring to grow to b/w 9 and 10 inches <<Hmm...H. acuminatus then?>> <Won't grow this large here... RMF> and they are the only things that I planned on adding.  Now, I was thinking about transferring a Rainford goby from another tank into the 72 gallon as well.  I did not want him to be harassed by the strawberry Pseudochromis that I was thinking about adding (to my 46 gallon). Would that be okay, considering the fact that it hovers near the live rock most of the time?   <<Should be fine, yes.  Regards EricR>>

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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