ButterflyFish ‘Chaetodontidae’ Care


Butterflyfish, or Chaetodontidae, is a vibrant, colorful aquatic species found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region. They were named after their distinctive alternating black and yellow stripes on both sides of their body which resemble butterfly wings.

The colors vary from pink or purple to turquoise blue, depending on the local environment they reside in – including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, and tidal flats.

They are a diverse group of marine life who have adapted to live in various environments and ecosystems. A large majority of the species reside on coral reefs, where they can be found at different depths depending on their size and families.

The larger ones tend to stay near or above ground while smaller butterflyfish prefer living as deep as 100 feet or more.

Butterflyfish are active during the day and night, although they will swim in different directions based on their environment. Typically, the deeper-sea dwellers move vertically while those living near coral reefs usually travel horizontally across sandy expanses of seabed to feed on small invertebrates like crustaceans and worms.

Butterflyfish are known to live in small packs and swim close together. Social behavior among the species ranges from solitary individuals who prefer to feed alone, all the way up to groups of 100 or more that form shoals – a tightly-knit group with nearly identical movement patterns. They have also been observed chasing other animals like parrotfish and damselfish.

Butterflyfish are considered very good parents because they share parental care duties with other members of their group, including the males. They’ll lay up to 300 eggs at a time in an oval-shaped nest on sand or coral reef using spongy material that is produced from glands near the anus.

Why are they called Butterflyfish?

Butterfly fish


Butterflyfish have a family of ray-finned fishes called Chaetodontidae. They are named Butterflyfish because when they swim, their fins look like wings and can “flutter” up and down. But some people call them by other names too like parrotfish, longnose Butterflyfish, goatfish, or helmeted Butterflyfish.

The Chaetodontidae family includes more than 100 species, so it can be a little confusing to differentiate them sometimes! But they all have the same features: large eyes for hunting in murky waters plus long whiskers and spines on their fins that help them feel things out.

They are also mostly found living near coral reefs, and they’re just as beautiful on the inside: some species have a stomach that’s long like an intestine so that it can digest plant matter.

Butterflyfish species

The Butterflyfish, Chaetodontidae, has a wide distribution from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to Japan. It is found in areas with coral reefs or other rocky habitats near shallow waters. They primarily feed on small invertebrates such as crustaceans, but will occasionally eat algae or planktonic organisms.

Tiger Trout: All You Need To Know

They have a distinctive appearance with their large head, dorsal fin running the length of their back, and two long anal fins. Their bodies are covered in scales that give them an iridescent sheen when light shines on them. The females have more rounded bellies while males have pointed bellies. The females also carry eggs in front of their anal fins where they incubate them for about one week.

They have a symbiotic relationship with the cleaner wrasse as it will come and eat any parasites on its body while the Butterflyfish swims against the current to clean off most other organisms.

Butterflyfish adaptations


Butterflyfish have some very interesting adaptations that make them unique from other deep-sea fishes. Their eyes are on top of their head so that they can see in all directions at the same time and avoid predators by quickly looking for shadows or any movement above. They also use a system similar to an eardrum called a tympanic membrane to detect vibrations in the water.

The tympanic membrane on them is actually a thin sheet of tissue that covers the inner ear. This allows them to detect movement in the water and also hear noises from predators above such as dolphins or porpoises.

In addition, they have shortfin spines which are used for protection while their blue coloration camouflages them in the deep-water environment.

Butterflyfish are also able to survive very long periods of time without food because they have adapted ways of getting oxygen from their surroundings like other deep-sea animals such as crabs and lobsters, which use gills or claws respectively. They can actually absorb dissolved gases into their bodies through a process called diffusion, which is what allows them to stay alive in the deep-water environment.

Where do Butterflyfish mainly live?

Butterflyfish live in shallow, tropical waters. They are sometimes found near sandy or stony bottoms and amongst coral reefs where they prey on small crustaceans like shrimp. Butterflyfish typically have a lifespan of up to three years before dying from old age. You can find them swimming in open water during the day as well as at night.

Butterflyfish are sometimes referred to as “parrotfish” for their ability to change colors and patterns, which is a form of camouflage that allows them to escape predators or sneak up on prey. Some species can even actively control the color they appear in by altering pigments in their skin cells. When threatened, Butterflyfish will typically flare their fins and erect the spines on its body.

They are most commonly found in tropical waters, but a few species have been spotted as far north as Norway’s Lofoten Islands. They can be seen swimming at night or during the day and usually live for up to three years before they die of old age.

The Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi)

Butterflyfish types


There are numerous species of Butterflyfish that vary in size and color. The most common types include the Red Sea, banded longfin, four-spot, two-banded Indian Ocean, spotless/silvery white lined with blue lines on top, or silver striped (with a black tail), yellow-edged labrid Molly’s fantail, and the yellow bodied labrid Molly’s fantail.

The Red Sea Butterflyfish is a deep-sea species that can vary in color from orange to pink and have yellowish or whitish markings. Its fins are blue with black edging on the tail.

The banded longfin Butterflyfish, which has varying shades of brown dorsal and anal fins as well as white-tipped pectoral fins, is found in the Indo-Pacific.

The two-banded Indian Ocean Butterflyfish has a dark brown to black body with white bands and yellow borders on its dorsal fin while also having blue markings.

The four spots are typically light brown or tan colored and can be distinguished by its four large spots; they reside mainly in shallow coastal areas. The spotless/silvery white lined with blue lines Butterflyfish is another deep-sea species that can vary in color from light brown to bluish, and it has a black tail fin.

The yellow-bodied labrid molly’s fantail resides mainly near the surface on coral reefs and as such is often seen using its fins to hover over bright patches of sand or the reef.

The yellow-edged labrid molly’s fantail is a deep water species that reside mainly near hydrothermal vents and seeps in the Indian Ocean, Pacific, Atlantic, Southern Africa, off Australia, and Costa Rica.

The spotless/silvery white lined with blue lines Butterflyfish is another deep-sea species that can vary in color from light brown to bluish, and it has a black tail fin.

Are Butterflyfish hard to keep?

The most difficult part of keeping Butterflyfish is their diet. They require live worms, which are not always easily available. In addition to the live food requirement, it’s important to make sure that your tank has plenty of rocks and caves for them to hide in or swim through. Otherwise, they will get aggressive because they need a lot more space than some other fish to feel comfortable.

Is Butterflyfish poisonous?

Butterflyfish are not poisonous, but they can be dangerous in other ways. In most species of Butterflyfish, the female is larger than the male and usually more brightly colored. This sexual dimorphism often leads to aggressive behavior that includes biting or chasing away males from a territory. The females will also fiercely protect their young until they are ready to leave the nest.

Due to these behaviors, Butterflyfish are not recommended for home aquariums or other close quarters with humans. If threatened by a predator like a larger animal or another fish species, they will leap out of the water and onto land in order to escape danger; this can lead them into trouble if there is some type of barrier.

Life cycle

The life cycle of a Butterflyfish begins when eggs develop inside the female. She will release her eggs into an ocean current, where they are fertilized and develop until eventually hatching as larvae. They survive by feeding on plankton in the water column for about three weeks before settling to the bottom and taking up their adult lifestyle.

Anemone Fish - Size, Behavior And 4 Interesting Facts

The adult Butterflyfish will grow to about 12 centimeters in length and can be identified by the coloring of yellow stripes on a dark brown body. The scales are very small and it has no fin spines or dorsal ridge. It also doesn’t have any pelvic fins which is an identifying feature for many species of fish.

Butterflyfish do not have true scales like other fish. Instead, they have bony spines in place of scales to help protect their bodies from predators and the sharp edges on coral reefs or rocks where these fish live.

Are they peaceful or aggressive?

Butterflyfish can be aggressive, but they are peaceful by nature. The key is to observe your butterfly’s behavior before you approach it. If the fish appears stressed or gets nervous at your presence, then leave it alone and let them come to you instead!

What do butterflyfish eat?

Butterflyfish are carnivorous and will eat other smaller fish, shrimp, worms, plankton, and algae. They also produce a strong slime that helps them catch their prey!

Tank mates


You should always avoid buying Butterflyfish as tank mates for other species. Different types of milkfish have different body shapes, and the two shapes are often incompatible with each other. For example, if you put a frogfish in with an eel or urchin (both bottom-dwellers), it will be very difficult to find space to swim against the currents.

Butterflyfish are also territorial, so they will often attack other species if you put them together in a tank. Butterflyfish can fight with corals and eat urchins for food, which is why it’s best not to have these two types of animals living in the same aquarium at all.

If you have a type of butterflyfish that’s compatible with the other species in your tank, then they can be really helpful. The blue tang and Hawaiian butterflyfish are fish that will work well with an eel or urchin because both types live on the ocean floor as bottom-dwellers.

Water condition

Just as important for a Butterflyfish is the quality of water. The tank should be at least 180 gallons in size to ensure that there’s enough room for swimming and hunting prey items from all corners of the big area, but not too deep (less than 18 inches).

The water needs to be clean so you’ll want to make sure you have a filter and that it’s cleaned regularly.

The temperature of the water should be between 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit, but not too cold or warm so that your Butterflyfish can live comfortably in its environment.

Air bubbles are also needed for some species to survive since they use them as a way to breathe oxygen from the surface.

Chaetodontoplus duboulayi - Scribbled Angelfish

Butterflyfish are sensitive creatures that need a tank with the perfect amount of space, clear water, and appropriate temperature so they can swim freely. They’re not as easy to care for as other types of fish even though many people believe this because they don’t require feeding or cleaning regularly like some other species do – but they still need to be taken care of.


In order to breed the Butterflyfish, one needs a separate tank with live plants and plenty of hiding spaces. This is because when breeding they become territorial and aggressive around other aquarium inhabitants which can lead to injury or death for both parties. The female will release her eggs then scoop them up into their mouth in order to fertilize them before spitting them out. The eggs will then stick to the plants coating them with mucus.

Breeding is most successful when there are at least two breeding pairs in a single tank and plenty of live plants for egg protection, as well as places to hide from one another if need be. It’s also essential that all fish have been conditioned to accept one another prior to breeding.

Butterflyfish are egg-layers and will release their eggs into the water column then scoop them up with a mouthful of mucus to fertilize them before spitting them out onto plants, gravel, or other surfaces in their tank. When they’ve laid enough eggs on live vegetation it will start to look like a slimy mess.

The female will release her eggs then scoop them up into their mouth in order to fertilize them before spitting them out. The eggs will then stick to the plants coating them with mucus, they can be found on other surfaces as well if there are fewer places for egg protection live and breeding is successful.


The lifespan of the Butterflyfish is an average of five to six years in captivity, and they can live up to eight or nine years if cared for properly.

Parasites and diseases

The Butterflyfish is susceptible to a variety of parasites and diseases, such as “Acanthocephala” (spiny-headed worms), “Ergasilus“, tapeworms, and different types of flukes. For treatment, your veterinarian may recommend the following: Low doses of antihelminths or antibiotics in food, or a combination of the two treatments.


The Butterflyfish is one of many prey species on the coral reef that are easy targets. For example, predatory pufferfish will often attack and eat them. Other predators include triggerfish and parrotfishes (which can also be a predator to other organisms).

Does it make good pets?

Butterflyfish make good pets. They are not as aggressive and they have a beautiful appearance with colors that vary from dark brown to light grayish-yellow, orange or pink.

Smaller species of Butterflyfish can be kept in aquariums while larger ones need much more space because they grow up to 30 cm long and require lots of swimming space.