Chaetodon trifasciatus
Source: Bernard E. Picton / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Facts

Latin name Chaetodon trifasciatus - Park, 1797
Common name Melon butterflyfish
Family Chaetodontidae - Chaetodon
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean, Australia, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 15.0 cm (5.9")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 300 l (79 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Not suitable for home aquarium
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Mostly peaceful but might be aggressive towards similar species

Food

Maybee
  • Microalgea (Eg. spirulina)
  • Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
  • Other invertebrates
Recommended
  • Small polyp stone coral (SPS)

Eats tubeworms

This species likes to eat tubeworms.

Can nibble at clams

This species sometimes nibbles at clams including Tridacna species.

Only eats coral polyps

This species eats mainly coral polyps and will not survive on a replacement food.
Therefore, unless one is willing to provide it with living corals, it will not survive in an aquarium!

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

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

Hiding places

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

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-Pacific: East Africa to the Hawaiian and Tuamoto islands. However, the Pacific population has been recognized as a distinct subspecies (Chaetodon trifasciatus lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) by Burgess (Ref. 4855) while according to Randall,
English common names Three-banded coralfish, Three-banded butterfly, Indian Ocean redfin butterflyfish, Lineated butterflyfish, Melon butterflyfish, Red-fin butterflyfish
Danish common names Oval fanefisk
German common names Dreistreifen-Falterfisch, Rippelstreifen-Falterfisch
French common names Papillon côtelé indien, Papillon, Chétodon à nageoires rouge orange, Chétodon à trois-bandes

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

eats feather duster worm, eats tridacna, coral eater, butterfly
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