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Copperband butterfly

Chelmon rostratus

This week at NT Labs, planning our Fish of the Week has taken us on a trip down ‘memory lane’ with a species that is close to all our hearts. The copperband butterfly fish (Chelmon rostratus) is a striking marine fish with beautiful orange and white barring and a dark eye spot on the dorsal fin, and featured on our first logo when NT Labs started back in the 1980s. This peaceful species can be found in the waters of the western Indo-Pacific region, particularly around Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. These readily recognisable fish will grow to a maximum size of around 20cm (8 inches) when they receive proper care. The butterfly fish family are all characterised by their compressed body (making them appear taller than they are long) and their long, slender snout which they use to investigate crevices and holes for food. By grazing live rock, their diet mainly consists of invertebrates, including tube worms and molluscs, and will also eat that all-too-common pest, Aiptasia anemones if nothing tastier is available. Historically, these beautiful fish have been ‘dumped’ in ill-fitting aquariums as centre pieces, without the new owners knowing how to care for them properly, resulting in high mortality rates (as fish refuse to feed) and this species to have a reputation as being very challenging. Unfortunately, this is true to the extent that they can become stressed quite easily and won’t eat the food they are offered, and means you should wait until you become a bit more experienced and thoroughly research their needs before you consider buying one, but they’re definitely worth the wait!

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Tagged in: Fish of the Week Archive - Freshwater, Fish of the Week Archive - Marine