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Threadfin Butterfly

Scientific Name: Chaetodon auriga
Family: Chaetodontidae

About the Threadfin Butterfly

Species Type: Saltwater Fish
Category: Butterflyfish

Care Level: Easy. Ships well and acclimates well to the home aquarium. Accepts dried foods eagerly and quickly after acclimation. Is resistant to disease. An overall good choice for the new saltwater hobbyist.
Origin: Indian Ocean, far reaching into the Central Pacific. Sometimes available from the Red Sea. Such specimens can be distinguished by the lack of a black patch on the rear of the body. If you find such a specimen, you should consider paying a much higher price for its purchase, as Red Sea collected specimens are generally handled with great care and make for outstanding aquarium fish.

Beware, a very similar species (C. vagabundus) is available from the Coastal Africa area, which is nearly impossible to maintain in an aquarium. A detailed description is given below to help aid in making a wise purchase.
Compatibility/Temperament: Butterflyfish as a whole should not be kept in a reef environments, since they will feed on anemones and coral polyps. Although graceful in appearance, Butterflyfish are very capable of defending themselves in an aquarium, and are very similar in behavior to Angelfish and Tangs, although they are not as territorial towards newly added fish. Most Butterflyfish can be kept in pairs, provided both are introduced into the aquarium at the same time. Mixing multiple Butterflyfish into the same aquarium is also possible, provided you have sufficient space and pay careful attention to not add species of near identical color patterns. In fact, it would be best to add Butterflyfish of different Genus. One such example would be to keep the species profiled here, the Threadfin Butterfly, in the same aquarium with a Copperband Butterfly. Such an issue would rarely present compatibility concerns.


Butterflyfish, even those which are deemed "easy" to care for, should only be introduced into a mature aquarium with sufficient live rock and protein skimming to maintain Nitrates near zero. In such an environment they will prove to be sturdy fish. After established Butterflyfish are not shy, and will generally be seen grazing on live rock during the day hours. They may also be the first fish to your feeding clip and learn to take foods out of your hand. They behavior in the home aquarium is very surprising to anyone who expects that they are purchasing a shy, reclusive fish.

To distinguish between C. auriga and C. vagabundus you must pay close attention to the rear coloration of the fish. The C. auriga is easiest to identify, as the caudal fin is solid yellow. There is a black stripe in the caudal fin of C. vagabundus. You may occasionally encounter the juvenile form of either species, in which case the black stripe has yet to form. In such situations you should observe the dorsal fin, in which there is a long yellow "thread" extension in C. auriga.

Threadfin Butterfly Diet

Feed a diet rich in vegetable matter including frozen herbivore foods, dried seaweed, or live macro algae. Freeze dried algae sheets should be offered daily. They accept dried and frozen foods, and several feedings per day are suggested. An ample supply of live rock to allow for grazing is almost mandatory for this genus. They struggle in tanks without a mature live rock and sand bed, but are extremely sturdy in mature aquarium environments with live rock.


Grows to 11''.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

125 gallons

Ideal water parameters for Threadfin Butterfly

Marine fish are highly sensitive animals with very specific care requirements. Most all saltwater species will require similar water conditions, designed to replicate that of natural seawater. Ammonia and nitrite levels should absolute zero, temperature at 76F to 80F, and salinity at 1.024 to 1.026. Although some fish are tolerant of lower levels of Nitrate, the goal in every aquariums should be to keep Nitrate as close to zero as possible, and certainly under 20ppm. Finally, maintaining a stable pH of 8.0 to 8.4 is desired. Achieving this is made easier by monitoring alkalinity, which should be kept at 8-12 DKH, and calcium, which is targeted at 400 to 460ppm.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Pasfur
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