Chelmon rostratus
Source: Kasper Hareskov Tygesen
Chelmon rostratus
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Chelmon rostratus
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Chelmon rostratus
Source: Oceanreef.dk - Kasper Hareskov Tygesen

Facts

Latin name Chelmon rostratus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name Copperband Butterflyfish
Family Chaetodontidae - Chelmon
Origin West Indian Ocean, Australia, Indonesia
Max length 20.0 cm (7.9")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 1000 l (264 gal)
Hardiness Delicate
Suitable for aquarium Experience, preparation and extra care required
Reef safe Often reef safe
Aggressiveness Docile but might be aggressive towards similar species

Food

Maybee
  • Soft coral
  • Large polyp stone coral (LPS)
Recommended
  • Zooplankton (Cyclops, pods...)
  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
  • Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
  • Other invertebrates

Difficult to keep alive in aquaria

These fish can, after several months suddenly die of unknown causes in the same aquarium, where it previously thrived.

It seems that a large fish tank, with plenty of micro life is best, in order to keep these fish alive.

Eats tubeworms

This species likes to eat tubeworms.

Can nibble at clams

This species sometimes nibbles at clams including Tridacna species.

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. 

Fastidious feeder

These fish eat exceptionally slowly and can be very selective feeders.

It can therefore be problematic to provide it with a sufficient and varied diet, in an aquarium with other, faster feeding species.

Live food

There is a greater chance of success with this species if one can supply a living feed to allow it to adapt to the tank.

Well established aquarium with pods

This species thrives best when there is a sufficiently large amount of micro life (copepods, amphipods or similar) in the aquarium, so that the it can always find their own food.

Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.

Eats glass anemones (Aiptasia)

This species eats glass anemones (Aiptasia).

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

Docile

This species is very shy and docile, so one should be careful when keeping it with more aggressive fish.

Can coexist as a pair

They can live as a pair provided they are introduced simultaneously.

Refuses to eat at first

This species can refuse to eat when newly introduced.
Normally however, they begin to eat within about a week, but it's advantageous if they can find their own food in the aquarium.

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 Western Pacific: Andaman Sea to Ryukyu Islands and Australia.
English common names Copperhand butterflyfish, Beaked butterflyfish, Beaked coralfish
Danish common names Almindelig pincetfisk
German common names Pinzettfisch
French common names Chelmon commun

References and further reading

About references

Tristan Lougher. 2013. Buyer Beware: The Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) - Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine - (English)
Bob Fenner. The Chelmon Butterflyfishes - 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, hard to feed, docile shy, live food, pods, eats feather duster worm, pair couple, eats tridacna, butterfly
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