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Copperband Butterflyfish

(Chelmon rostratus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Difficult   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 8"
• Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Indo-Pacific
• Family: Chaetodontidae   • Species: Butterflyfish   • Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Copperband Butterflyfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Copperband Butterflyfish, is also commonly referred to as the Beaked Butterflyfish, Beaked Coralfish, or Orange Stripe Butterfly. It has a long, narrow nose and mouth used for hunting into crevices and holes for food along the reef. The Copperband Butterflyfish has yellow-orange vertical bands with a black edging, with a false eyespot on the rear of the dorsal fin.

While it is a very attractive fish, it is difficult fish to keep in the home aquarium due to its delicate nature and somewhat specialized feeding habits. Even though it is not a large fish, the Copperband needs a large aquarium with plenty of live rock so it can forage for food. This species should only be kept by advanced hobbyists with either suitable reef aquariums or a peaceful community aquarium.

The Copperbanded Butterflyfish is easily recognizeable by its copper colored vertical bands over a silver/white body. They have a black eye spot near its dorsal fin and a long pointed snout. Copperband Butterflyfish blend copper, orange, yellow, silver, white and black coloration with a unique striped pattern to form a very visually appealing fish.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Copperband Butterflyfish in the home aquarium.

The Copperband Butterflyfish is best housed in very large reefs, or in peaceful community tanks, where it should be kept singly and not with similar butterflyfish or any boisterous stress-inducing fish. While this species it suitable for some reef aquariums, caution should be exercised as they may pick on some invertebrates, especially anemones and feather dusters.

They are an excellent fish when used to control aiptasia, or glass anemones, in the reef aquarium. While Butterflyfish in general tend to be viewed as potential coral eaters, Copperband butterflyfish are generally reef safe. However, this can be hit or miss in that some specimens will clear the aquarium of small fan worms where other ones will leave them alone. The Copperband Butterflyfish is a very non-aggressive fish that can be bullied by more aggressive fish, so be on the lookout for this when introducing a new fish.

Only one should be kept per tank to prevent fighting. Large amounts of live rock are necessary to keep this species as they will provide a major food source, places to retreat when the fish feels threatened and place for the Copperband to take cover at night.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Copperband Butterflyfish.

The Copperband Butterflyfish is a specialized feeder and can be difficult to feed in the aquarium environment. It is a shy and deliberate feeder that may need a variety of foods offered to it in order to get it started feeding. A large established reef aquarium or peaceful community aquarium with an abundance of live rock will help this species find suitable food items.

A good part of its nutrition will come from feeding on the small life forms found on live rock; such as, copepods and small fan worms. They will also usually take smallish meaty foods such as frozen brine shrimp, blood worms and sometimes mysid shrimp. Keep in mind that they have very small mouths that are designed for getting to food in rock crevices and will usually not attempt to eat larger food items. Copperbanded butterflyfish may compete for food with other live rock foragers such as Mandarinfish and some gobies.

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