Butterfly fish, also written as butterflyfish, belong to the Chaetodontidae family of fish. These fish are found in the reefs of the Indian Ocean, as well as in the warmer zones of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. There are a number of sub species of butterfly fish. Banner fish and the coral fish, for example, are included in the family of butterfly fish.
The size of butterfly fish is around 7 to 9 inches. The species of fish called African butterfly fish is, however, smaller in size; they are approximately 4 inches in size. These fish are known for their coloration. The pattern on the fish is similar to that on butterfly wings. Multicolored stripes, swirls, etc. are often seen on the bodies of these fish. It is known to have splashes of white, yellow, red, orange, blue, and black color on the scales. However, it is important to know how to care for a butterfly fish before one gets it as a pet.
How to Care for Butterfly Fish?
Being found in coral reefs. butterfly fish are normally good communal fish. However, there can be times when they may become intolerant. They are normally intolerant towards surface-swimming fish. They are known to nip the fins. At the same time, if they are kept with small fish, they may eat the small ones. It is best to keep them in the company of fish which are known to either swim at the bottom of the tank or in the middle of it. This will ensure there is harmony in the aquarium. It is important to make some hiding place for the fish along with the swimming areas.
One of the important points in caring for butterfly fish is getting the right type of fish tank for them. It is best to keep them in saltwater aquariums, which are shallow. The aquariums should be about 6 to 8 inches deep. It is best to keep them in aquariums, which are larger in length and width as opposed to depth. This will ensure they have more surface area to swim. The temperature suitable for butterfly fish is between 77 to 82 degree Fahrenheit. The pH of water needs to be balanced at 6.5 to 7.0.
Along with a lot of surface area to swim, it is also recommended that there should be floating plants for this saltwater fish. These fish are predominantly carnivores. Therefore it is best to give them a protein rich diet. Live insects, flies, worms, small fish, mosquito larvae, small spiders, large flake food can be given to the fish. Small crickets can also be fed to the fish. They should be fed with algae, sponges and coral. Tamed butterfly fish are known to eat out of a person's hand as well. The fish will have to be fed small amounts several times a day.
It is difficult to distinguish the male and the female butterfly fish from one another. Normally the male fish are thinner than the female fish. Distinguishing the male and the female fish is easier when the female fish is carrying eggs. Distinction can also be made dependent on the anal opening. The male have convex curve at the rear edge of the anal fin, while the female anal fin is straight.
It is very difficult to breed butterfly fish. It is best to give the fish a lot of options to spawn. Normally 80 to 200 eggs are dropped per day and about 3 to 7 eggs at each pass. The eggs take approximately 36 hours to hatch. Raising the fry is a rather difficult task, as the fry can only eat food which is kept right in front of them.
One of the important points to remember is that you will have to closely observe the color of the fish. Koi fish, in particular, may loose color if they are not comfortable in the aquarium. In such a case, quality of water should be checked. It should also be checked if big fish are bullying the butterfly fish. At the same time, it is important to note that the fish may turn whitish or colorless when lights are turned onto them all of a sudden.
These were some of the important measures to remember, so that you are able to take care of your butterfly fish properly. The person from whom you get them will be in a better position to give any specific care tips for these fish.