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Threadfin Butterfly - Chaetodon auriga - Small

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Item: 213755

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Called "Kikakapu" in Hawaii, the Threadfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga) has a mostly white body with a chevroned pattern of grey lines. The anal, dorsal and tail fins are yellow. A black bar vertically crosses the eye, and there is a black spot at the top rear area of the dorsal fin. A distinctive threadlike extension from the dorsal fin gives this fish its common name. This is one of the most common and suitable butterflies available for home aquariums.

Butterflyfish consist of a large number of fish found in the aquarium trade from the Chaetodon, Chelmon, Forcipiger, and Heniochus genuses, among others from the family Chaetodontidae. The family ranges in length from 3 inches up to close to 12 inches in length. Butterflies are usually roughly oval in body shape but longer fins make some appear elliptical or diamond-shaped. They resemble and are sometimes confused with angelfish (family Pomacentridae) but angelfish have a cheekspine that is not found in butterflies.

Butterflies are generally community fish in nature. Though some more pugnatious species may terrorize smaller or more docile fish, most can be kept with a wide range of community tankmates. Most butterfly species are not "reef safe" and will eat corals and polyps. In fact, some more delicate butterflies require corals as part of their natural diet. Butterflies may also harm smaller crustaceans (crabs and shrimp) and may pick at inverts like clams, feather dusters, anemones and similar tankmates. Use caution when introducing a butterfly into a tank with inverts; though some are considered "reef safe" by some aquarists, any butterfly may pose a risk to corals and inverts.

The diet of butterflies can vary, as mentioned, based on what they normally eat in the wild. Some very picky species only pick at coral flesh and can be difficult to wean onto an aquarium-based diet. A very varied diet of algae and meaty items like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, scallops, clam, corals, sponges and other items is best. Vitamin supplements can also help get the butterflies all the nutrition they require. While some butterflies are very hardy and suitable for aquarists of all levels, more sensitive species should be attempted by experienced aquarists only.
Common NameThreadfin Butterfly - Small
Scientific NameChaetodon auriga
DifficultyEasy to Moderate
Reef SafeNo
Invert SafeYes, with caution
Community SafeYes
Max Size (in inches)9
Min Tank Size (in gallons)90
Specific Gravity Range1.020-1.024
pH Range8.0-8.4
Temperature Range75-82

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