Copperband Butterflyfish Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

Caring for Copperband Butterflyfish can be a rewarding and fascinating experience for saltwater aquarium enthusiasts. These beautiful creatures, with their striking appearance and unique feeding habits, are a popular choice for many hobbyists. However, proper care and attention are essential to ensuring their health and happiness in a home aquarium setting.

Copperband Butterflyfish require a tank size of at least 75 gallons, with a temperature range of 72-78°F and a pH range of 8.1-8.4. They are carnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and krill. They also require a well-lit aquarium with plenty of hiding places and live rock. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are important for their health.

I recall the first time I encountered a Copperband Butterflyfish at my local fish store. I was instantly mesmerized by its vibrant colors and elegant, elongated snout. That encounter sparked my interest in learning more about their care and, ultimately, led me to successfully keeping one in my own tank.

It’s important to note that Copperband Butterflyfish can be a bit more challenging to care for than other species. Their dietary needs are specific, and water quality parameters need to be consistently maintained. By understanding their unique requirements, you will be well on your way to creating a thriving environment for these captivating marine inhabitants.

Copperband Butterflyfish 3

Species Summary


The Copperband Butterflyfish, also known as Chelmon rostratus, is a stunning and popular saltwater fish found in the Indo-Pacific region. They inhabit coral reefs, usually in pairs or small groups.


Copperband Butterflyfish have a lifespan of 5-7 years in captivity when properly cared for. I once had one that lived up to 6 years, and it was a real joy to have as part of my aquarium.


Their distinct appearance includes a slender, oval-shaped body with alternating copper-colored bands and white bands. They also have a long snout and a yellow face.


Adult Copperband Butterflyfish typically reach a maximum size of 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

Growth Rate

The Copperband Butterflyfish has a moderate growth rate. It usually takes 18-24 months for them to reach their full size from the juvenile stage.

Behavior & Temperament

These fish have a peaceful temperament and can be kept with other non-aggressive species. They are often observed swimming along the perimeter of the tanks in search of food, such as small crustaceans.

Male vs Female

There are no significant external differences between male and female Copperband Butterflyfish, which makes it difficult to determine their sex visually. However, during breeding, the females may appear slightly more rounded due to the presence of eggs.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

Copperband Butterflyfish need ample swimming space, so a minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended. Personally, I started with a 90-gallon tank to ensure a stress-free environment for my Copperband.


Moderate lighting suits these fish best. I opted for LED lights on a timer for a consistent day-night cycle, as this mimics their natural habitat.

Filtration & Aeration

A strong, efficient filtration system is crucial for maintaining good water quality. Copperbands are sensitive to poor water conditions, so aim for:

  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: under 10 ppm

I use a canister filter and a protein skimmer for effective filtration, and a powerhead for proper water movement.


Copperband Butterflyfish thrive in water temperatures between 74°F and 78°F, so a reliable and adjustable heater is essential. I use a 300-watt heater for my 90-gallon tank, and consistently monitor the temperature.


A mixture of small to medium-sized aragonite sand works well for Copperbands. It promotes a natural look and supports beneficial nitrifying bacteria. In my tank, I’ve added about 2 inches of substrate.


Copperbands appreciate hiding spots and resting areas, so I include:

  • Live rock: provides a natural biofilter and shelters
  • Caves: offers secure hiding places
  • PVC pipes: an inexpensive option for additional hideouts


While not necessary, live plants can enhance the tank’s appeal and reduce stress for the Copperband Butterflyfish. Choose hardy species, as Copperbands may nip at soft plants. I added some Caulerpa algae as it’s beneficial for water quality and provides a natural look.

Water Quality

Water Temperature

Copperband Butterflyfish thrive in water temperatures between 72-78°F (22-25°C). I personally use a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a consistent temperature, as fluctuations can stress the fish.

Water pH

Maintaining a stable pH level between 8.1-8.4 is crucial for the health of Copperband Butterflyfish. Invest in a good-quality pH test kit to monitor this parameter regularly.

Water Hardness

Copperband Butterflyfish prefer water with a hardness of 8-12 dKH. Keep a close eye on these numbers using a reliable hardness test kit.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for the well-being of Copperband Butterflyfish.

  • Weekly: Replace 10-15% of the tank water
  • Bi-weekly: Replace 20-25% of the tank water

This ensures that the water parameters remain stable and optimal for your fish. In my experience, sticking to a regular water change schedule has greatly contributed to keeping my Copperband Butterflyfish happy and healthy.

Tank Maintenance

Caring for a Copperband Butterflyfish requires consistent tank maintenance. Regular water changes are key. I like to perform a 20-25% water change every two weeks. This helps maintain optimal water quality.

It’s important to clean the filters regularly. I clean mine once a month, using aquarium water instead of tap water to avoid killing beneficial bacteria.

Testing the water parameters is another essential practice. Keep these levels in check:

  • Temperature: 24-28°C (75-82°F)
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Salinity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: as close to 0 ppm as possible

Maintaining a stable environment is beneficial for any fish, but especially the Copperband Butterflyfish. I’ve found that they are easily stressed by fluctuations, so I invested in a reliable heater and chiller to avoid sudden temperature changes.

Good water circulation is also crucial, as it helps mimic their natural habitat. I use a powerhead alongside my pump and filter system to create a suitable water flow. Remember, enough flow is needed to distribute oxygen and food throughout the tank but not too strong to cause stress for the fish.

Incorporating live rock in the tank is a smart move. The Copperband Butterflyfish enjoys picking at live rocks in search of small crustaceans. Additionally, it offers hiding spots, minimizing stress and promoting a sense of security.

Finally, always take note of their behavior and appetite. Consistent observation helps you quickly spot any potential problems. Once, I noticed sluggish behavior in my fish, which led me to discover an issue with my heater. Fixing it promptly prevented any further stress on my fish.

Tank Mates

Copperband Butterflyfish 2

Compatible Fish Species

When selecting tank mates for your Copperband Butterflyfish, it’s crucial to choose peaceful and non-aggressive species. Some great options include:

  • Angelfish: They share a similar diet and habitat preferences, making them ideal tank mates.
  • Clownfish: With their hardy nature and personality, they can coexist well with Copperbands.

Note: I once had a Copperband and a Clownfish in my tank and they got along quite well!

Incompatible Fish Species

On the other hand, some species aren’t suitable as tank mates due to aggressiveness or size:

  • Lionfish: They tend to consume smaller fish, posing a threat to your Copperband.
  • Triggerfish: Their aggressive behavior can stress out your Copperband Butterflyfish.

It’s essential to do thorough research when selecting tank mates to ensure everyone thrives together.


What To Feed

Copperband Butterflyfish enjoy a varied diet, and different types of food will contribute to their overall health. They primarily eat meaty foods such as brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, and frozen krill.

As an avid marine fishkeeper, I’ve also included reef-based food in the diet, like coral polyps and small invertebrates.


It is essential to feed them multiple times a day, which aids in their consistent activity and wellbeing. I usually stick to a three-times-a-day feeding schedule for my Copperband Butterflyfish.


Here are some useful feeding tips I’d like to share with you:

  • Make sure to thaw frozen food before serving it to your fish.
  • Offer a variety of foods to ensure your fish receives all the essential nutrients.
  • Gradually experiment with different types of food to understand your fish’s preferences.
  • Be cautious not to overfeed, as it can contribute to poor water quality.

In my experience, it took a while for my Copperband Butterflyfish to start eating the food I provided, but with patience and consistency, they adapted well.

Common Diseases


Copperband Butterflyfish are susceptible to several common diseases, such as ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich) and marine velvet. These diseases can cause significant stress and may become fatal if left untreated.


Ich manifests as small white spots on the fish’s body and fins, while marine velvet appears as a fine gold dust. Both diseases cause the Copperband Butterflyfish to become lethargic, lose appetite, and develop breathing difficulties.

I once observed my own Copperband Butterflyfish swimming erratically, which led me to discover that it was affected by Ich.


IchCopper-based medications, elevated temperature (30°C/86°F) and lower salinity
Marine VelvetCopper-based medications and lowering salinity

For Ich, a combination of copper-based medications and environmental changes, like elevating the temperature to 30°C/86°F and lowering salinity, helps. Marine velvet is also treated with copper-based medications, but ensure to lower the salinity.


  • Maintain optimal water parameters
  • Quarantine new arrivals for at least 2 weeks
  • Feed a varied and nutritious diet
  • Regularly clean and check the aquarium

Preventing diseases is key to keeping Copperband Butterflyfish healthy. Maintaining optimal water parameters, quarantining new additions, providing a nutritious diet, and having a clean environment can help prevent these diseases from affecting your beautiful Copperband Butterflyfish.

Signs of a Healthy Fish

A crucial aspect of taking care of a Copperband Butterflyfish is being able to identify signs of good health. One of the first things I noticed with my Copperband Butterflyfish is their vibrant coloration. A healthy fish will have bright, colorful markings with no dullness or fading.

Another essential sign is their activity level. A thriving Copperband Butterflyfish should be actively swimming around your tank, peacefully interacting with other fish and even engaging in some playful behaviors.

Be sure to observe their feeding behavior, as this is a great indicator of their overall health. A Copperband Butterflyfish that eagerly eats and shows interest in the food you provide demonstrates a strong appetite and good health.

Finally, pay attention to their overall appearance. Your Copperband Butterflyfish should have no visible damage, such as frayed fins, evident injuries or any external parasites. Make sure their eyes are clear and not cloudy, which can indicate a potential vision issue.

In summary, to ensure your Copperband Butterflyfish’s well-being, closely monitor their coloration, activity level, feeding behavior, and overall appearance. By doing this, you are placing yourself in the best position to maintain a healthy and happy fish.

Signs Your Fish is Sick

Copperband Butterflyfish are visually stunning creatures that require proper care to ensure their health. Monitor your fish closely for any signs of illness.

One sign of a sick fish is loss of appetite. If you notice your Copperband Butterflyfish avoiding food or eating less, it could be a sign of illness.

Another symptom to watch for is rapid breathing. This may point to possible health issues like bacterial infections or parasites.

Color changes can also signify poor health. If your fish appears dull or displays an unusual color pattern, it might be sick.

A personal anecdote I encountered with my own Copperband Butterflyfish involved noticeable lethargy. My fish showed reduced activity levels and lack of interest in its surroundings, prompting me to take action.

These are only a few signs to watch for when monitoring the health of your Copperband Butterflyfish. Stay attentive and proactive in your fish’s care to ensure it remains healthy and vibrant.


Copperband Butterflyfish

Breeding Setup

To breed Copperband Butterflyfish, I had to ensure their environment was suitable. Set up a separate tank with a few hiding spots, like PVC tubes or arches. Maintain the water temperature at around 24-26°C and a pH of 8.1-8.4.

How To Breed

For breeding, choose a compatible and healthy pair. Provide a high-quality diet, including live and frozen food. It’s not easy to breed them, as they tend to be secretive and territorial. In my experience, breeding was more successful when the fish were left undisturbed.


As the eggs hatch into larvae, provide fine plankton food for nourishment. Keep an eye on water quality, as it’s crucial during this stage. Perform periodic water changes and have a skimmer to remove waste. Gradually introduce the juveniles into the main tank once they’re big enough.

Product recommendations for Copperband Butterflyfish:

  1. Hikari Marine S Pellets: This fish food is specially formulated for marine fish, including Copperband Butterflyfish, and provides a balanced diet for optimal health.
  2. Seachem Stability: This product helps to establish a healthy biological filter in your aquarium, which is important for maintaining good water quality for Copperband Butterflyfish.
  3. Fluval Sea Protein Skimmer: This protein skimmer helps to remove organic waste from your aquarium water, which can be harmful to Copperband Butterflyfish.
  4. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This circulation pump helps to create a natural water flow in your aquarium, which is important for the well-being of Copperband Butterflyfish.
  5. Instant Ocean Sea Salt: This sea salt mix is perfect for creating a healthy marine environment for Copperband Butterflyfish and other saltwater fish.
  6. API Aquarium Salt: This product helps to promote healthy gill function and reduce stress in fish, including Copperband Butterflyfish.
  7. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in aquarium water, which can be harmful to Copperband Butterflyfish.
  8. Marina Floating Thermometer: This thermometer helps you to monitor the temperature of your aquarium water, which is important for keeping Copperband Butterflyfish healthy.


Caring for Copperband Butterflyfish can be a rewarding experience. By providing a proper environment and meeting their specific needs, you can enjoy their beauty and observe their fascinating behavior.

It’s essential to maintain pristine water conditions, as these fish are sensitive to water quality. Regular testing and water changes will keep the environment stable.

Feeding a balanced diet is crucial to keep them healthy. Offer a variety of foods, such as frozen mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, and chopped seafood.

When I first introduced my Copperband Butterflyfish to my aquarium, I was delighted to see it actively exploring its new home. It became a centerpiece in my tank, captivating everyone who saw it.

In summary, patience, dedication, and attention to detail are needed to care for Copperband Butterflyfish. With proper care, they can thrive, providing enjoyment for years to come.


What do Copperband Butterflyfish eat? Copperband Butterflyfish primarily eat a diet of invertebrates, such as tubeworms and small crustaceans. I once had a Copperband that was particularly fond of mysis shrimp!

Can they be kept in a reef aquarium? Yes, they can be compatible with reef aquariums, but always keep an eye on them, as they may nip at certain corals and invertebrates.

What tank size is suitable for Copperband Butterflyfish? A minimum of 100 gallons is recommended to accommodate their swimming needs and to maintain ideal water conditions.

What is the ideal water condition for Copperband Butterflyfish?

Temperature72°F – 78°F
pH8.1 – 8.4
Salinity1.023 – 1.025

Are they compatible with other fish? Generally, yes, they are peaceful fish but might not tolerate other butterflyfish or those with a similar shape or color.

How can I help them adjust to a new tank? It is essential to give them plenty of hiding places with live rock formations. Acclimation can take time, so be patient and avoid stressing the fish with sudden changes.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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