Fish of the Week #5-Chelmon rostratus -Copperband butterflyfish


Sir Brian The Lenient
Staff member
RC Mod
Chelmon rostratus

Copperband butterflyfish

A beautiful fish, the copperband butterflyfish gets its common name from the broad vertical copper-colored stripes on its silvery body. One of these stripes runs through each eye, disguising them from predators. It has a large black spot close to its tail that predators mistake for the eye. When they strike at the black spot thinking it is the copperband's head, the copperband is able to swim away unharmed.

It has an elongated snout and small mouth, specialized for feeding out of holes in rockwork and the reef. It feeds on small crustaceans and worms in its natural habitat. In the home aquarium, specimens should be offered a carnivore-type diet, with meaty foods such as clam meat, mysis shrimp, and other prepared foods designed for carnivores. Some aquarists report success in offering their copperbands a fresh mussel or clam that has been broken open partway to allow the copperband to feed on it.

In captivity, the copperband has a poor survival record. Specimens will often refuse to eat and the majority acclimate poorly to aquarium life. It is nonetheless a very popular fish, both for its beauty and its propensity for feeding on aiptasia. It normally will not bother sps or soft corals, but may not be safe with zooanthids and lps corals. It will also feed on polycheate worms.

It reaches about 8 inches in length, and can be very aggressive to other fish, especially it species.
Hey Brian,maybe we could add the following!?
If you got a porites,with alot of x-mastree worms,they will not last for long,the copperband will feed on them till it bursts.I suppose it goes fot almost any "wormlike" thing.

Another thing:If you introduce a copperband,and you`ve got tridacna(s),it`s probably ok(there is the odd speciment who will do as it damn well pleaces).But if you introduce a new clam
the fish is likely to eat it,it is something to do with the secretion of "slime" when put in a new inviroment.It will develop a taste for it and eat your "old" clams as well!!!!

This is no personal eksperience,but I`ve heard it more than one time,so I thought it was worth a little note:)


The chelmon rostratus is the only copper allowed in the reeftank :D

BTW I missed #4,can`t find it!
Thanks for the comments, Flamin

I have heard very few success stories with copperbands. If anyone has kept one for any length of time, I would like to see them post their tank conditions/environment that aided in their success.

By the same token, maybe posts from some people who lost a specimen would also be useful.


(PS I think I forgot FOTW #4...I will have to back up one next time :) )
Larry, Inland Aquatics got a copperband in a few weeks ago. They won't sell it until they are confident it is healthy and eating. IME, sometimes they keep fish for months before they are willing to sell them.

I am sure the fish would be expensive from them, but it would be a great addition to a tank. It would also be well worth the cost to buy from Inland as opposed to mail order houses that ship out livestock as soon as it comes in.

I was surprised to read how aggressive the copperband is. With its long snout and small mouth, it doesn't seem like it would have the weapons to be too much of a bully.