Copperband butterflyfish – Chelmon rostratus

Copperband butterflyfish

An overview of the Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus)

This beautiful fish is an extreme food specialist: Usually it picks its food out of the smallest gaps between the stones, of which there is rarely enough in the aquarium. It takes a lot of effort to get used to substitute food (if at all). Even if this works, it has to be specially fed as it eats very slowly.

Copperband butterflyfish – Quick facts

Minimum tank size: from 500 liters / 125 gallons

Height: 15-20 cm

Temperature: 24 ° C-26 ° C / 72-78° F

Life expectancy: 5-10 years

Difficulty: Extreme nutrition specialist

Care Level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Color Form: Orange, White, Yellow

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: With Caution

Water Conditions: dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025

Max. Size: 8″

Origin: Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore

Family: Chaetodontidae

Copperband butterflyfish – Attitude

Chelmon rostratus is an absolute nutrition specialist who cannot always be switched to substitute feed and then unfortunately starves to death. Therefore it should only be kept in very large tanks with enough food. It is also highly recommended to ask the dealer to show you that the fish accepts frozen food.

If the feed intake has worked, however, it is easy to hold and quite robust against diseases and water values.

It should be kept individually. It is possible to keep it in pairs, but it doesn’t always work, but it gets along well with alien, non-butterfly fish.

In nature, the Copperband butterflyfish eats crabs and worms, which it pecks from corals, sand and rocks with its tubular snout. He therefore needs relatively little food. Glass roses and other small cnidarians are sometimes eaten, sometimes not. It is probably related to the origin of the animals. 

Small tube worms are practically always eaten. For example, if you have such worms in the filter shaft, you can use them for feeding. The tube worms on a Porites multicolor stone are not spared either.

As a food specialist, this fish is only something for aquarists who can take care of each animal intensively and leave no stone unturned in bringing this tricky eater to the food. The Chelmon needs rest in order to eat, for example in a tank with large Docs it can be empty even with the right food. 

In a rugged basin with lots of living stones (no water pollution) He often starts to peck, and then there is a good chance of interest him in other food.

Copperband butterflyfish – Behavior

Chelmon rostratus is an interesting fish with character that swims through the tank and pecks for food everywhere. It can also attack corals and other invertebrates. It is not shy, but usually asserts itself quite quickly as a full member of the reef community. It only takes a long time to eat and cannot assert itself against faster fish, as it naturally relaxes and slowly searches for its food in small crevices.

Copperband butterflyfish – Feed

As already mentioned, the orange tie tweezer fish is a nutrition specialist that cannot always be used to substitute food. They eat small tube worms in the aquarium, which is why worm-like substitute food is most likely to be accepted. Otherwise you really have to experiment with what the individual specimen is getting into (Mysis, Artemia, Krill, …).

The chelmon is not a beginner fish. Feeding requires effort. That means the quality of the feed is actually more important than the quantity.

Feeding them often is therefore particularly important, and quality is crucial.


All images under license from Shutterstock.com [Vladimir Wrangel / Vladimir Wrangel / Ian Scott / Arunee Rodloy / Ian Scott]

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