Chaetodon decussatus
Source: JJPhoto.dk

Facts

Latin name Chaetodon decussatus - Cuvier, 1829
Common name Indian vagabond butterflyfish
Family Chaetodontidae - Chaetodon
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean, Australia, Japan, The Red Sea, Indonesia, New Zealand, Central/West Pacific
Max length 20.0 cm (7.9")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 500 l (132 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Mostly peaceful but might be aggressive towards similar species

Food

Mostly
  • Soft coral
  • Large polyp stone coral (LPS)
Recommended
  • Microalgea (Eg. spirulina)
  • Macroalgea (Eg. seaweed / nori)
  • Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
  • Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
  • Other invertebrates

Eats tubeworms

This species likes to eat tubeworms.

Can nibble at clams

This species sometimes nibbles at clams including Tridacna species.

Feeding problems

These fish normally eat for the most part, coral polyps, therefore problems can arise in captivity when trying to give it an alternative food.

It is therefore essential to be well prepared before acquiring them and have several suitable food types ready to present them with.
However well prepared, there will be a large percentage, that will die after a short time in captivity.

It may mean having to keep living corals, mussels and zooplankton as food, in order to keep these fish alive whilst they are getting accustomed to alternative types of food.

Acclimatization problems when young

Small specimens of this species can find it difficult to accept food in an aquarium.

Thus it is advisable to buy a medium sized individual (>7 cm.), or a fully grown specimen if one has enough space.

Frequent feeding

This fish requires feeding several times a day, especially when newly added.

When the fish can find its natural food in the aquarium it requires less frequent feeding. 

Well established aquarium with algae

These fish should be kept in a well run aquarium where they can "graze" algae from rocks and stones.

If there are insufficient algae on the rocks, it is important to feed more frequently and supplement with algae rich food e.g. Spirulina. 

Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.

Eats glass anemones (Aiptasia)

This species eats glass anemones (Aiptasia).

But occasionally one finds an individual fish which refuses to eat them.

Initially shy

This species can be very shy when first introduced into a new aquarium.

More aggressive fish can be introduced after this species has acclimatized.

Hiding places

This species needs good hiding places, for example, between live rocks.

Can coexist with its own species

Several specimen of this species can coexist in the same aquarium, provided they are introduced simultaneously.

Genus description (Chaetodon)

Some species of the Chaetodon genus are grouped together in what is known as a "complex", since they are so very similar.

Regardless of resemblance, it is important to be able to distinguish them, as in some cases they vary greatly in their needs. Sometimes there are just small differences in colour or pattern, but in other instances it is vital to know where the fish originally come from.

Family description (Chaetodontidae)

The Butterflyfish are known for their attractive patterns and colours. They are closely related to Angelfishs, but can always be distinguished, as they lack the spines on each side of the head of the Angelfish.

A smaller group of these fish will seek out primairily soft corals, like Zoanthus. A larger part of the species will target different types of LPS corals. Butterflyfish are also known to seek out anemones, tubeworms and bristleworms.

Therefore it is important to choose the correct species in relation to the corals wanted, if one desires to keep Butterflyfish in a coral-aquarium.
Bristleworms, tubeworms and other small invertebrates are also a part of the diet for many Butterflyfish.

It can be problematic, with many of these species, to get them eating in the beginning, but many of the species cannot resist live zooplankton or live mussels with crushed shells. Another option is to mimic their natural behaviour by stuffing their food into coral skeletons or stones.

They ignore most other fish and are generally peaceful, therefore multiple Butterflyfish will have no problem living together. One should however be cautious about keeping similar species together unless they are a couple.

As these fish can be difficult to acclimatize and get feeding, it is important to buy healthy fish, to avoid having to deal with more problems. Make sure to check that they do not have parasites or any visible infections.

There are some species that should not be kept in an a aquarium, as they are food specialists and will almost always refuse to eat replacement foods. It can be possible to breed some species, which will eat frozen foods. Otherwise the only way to keep food specialists is by feeding them their natural diet, which consists of live SPS or LPS corals for example.

FishBase

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Indo-West Pacific: Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Andaman Sea and the westernmost portion of the Indo-Malayan Archipelago.
English common names Indian vagabond butterflyfish, Black-finned vagabond, Blackened butterflyfish, Butterfly fish
Danish common names Sortfinnet fanefisk
French common names Papillon peint à dorsale noire

References and further reading

About references

Bob Fenner. Corallivorous Butterflyfishes… For Aquariums? - Wet Web Media - (English)

Scott W. Michael. 2004. Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes (Reef Fishes Series Book 3) TFH Publications / Microcosm Ltd. - (English)
Bob Fenner. Butterflyfishes; Separating the Good Ones and Those You Don't Want - Wet Web Media - (English)
Collection of links to additional information - Wet Web Media - (English)
Tea Yi Kai. 2014. Reef Nuggets 2: Aquatic Lepidopterans for your reef (Revised edition) - Reef Builders - (English)

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (08/2014).

Tags

aiptasia, herbivore, algae eater, docile shy, eats feather duster worm, shoal group, eats tridacna, butterfly
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