Copperband Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus)

Copperband Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus): A Stunning Addition to Your Saltwater Aquarium

Table of Contents


If you're looking to add a touch of elegance and vibrant color to your saltwater aquarium, the Copperband Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus) is an excellent choice. This stunning fish, also known as the Beaked Coralfish, is admired for its unique appearance and peaceful nature. In this article, we'll explore the fascinating characteristics, behavior, feeding habits, and care requirements of the Copperband Butterfly, providing you with valuable insights for successfully keeping this species in your own aquatic environment.

I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Appearance and Characteristics

The Copperband Butterfly showcases a mesmerizing combination of colors and patterns. It has a long, narrow body with a prominent snout and a mouth that resembles a beak, giving it its alternative name. The body is predominantly yellow, adorned with seven to eight vertical brownish-orange bands that extend from the dorsal fin to the ventral region. These bands give the fish a distinct appearance, resembling copper or gold stripes, hence its common name. The Copperband Butterfly also features delicate black spots on its dorsal fin.

Adult Copperband Butterflies can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length, making them a captivating centerpiece in larger saltwater aquariums. They have a lifespan of about 5 to 8 years if provided with proper care and a suitable habitat.

Behavior and Habitat

Copperband Butterflies are known for their peaceful and calm nature, making them ideal for community tanks. They spend most of their time swimming in the mid to upper regions of the aquarium, gracefully gliding through the water. These fish are not particularly active swimmers, preferring slow and deliberate movements.

In the wild, Copperband Butterflies are found in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically in the reefs of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. They inhabit areas with a moderate to strong water flow, such as coral reefs and rocky outcrops. When recreating their natural habitat in an aquarium, it's essential to provide them with ample hiding spots, such as caves or crevices, where they can retreat and feel secure.

Feeding Habits

The Copperband Butterfly has a specialized diet, mainly focusing on consuming small invertebrates and pests commonly found in coral reefs. Their natural diet consists of small worms, shrimp, amphipods, and Aiptasia anemones. This makes them a popular choice among aquarists as a natural solution for controlling Aiptasia infestations in reef tanks.

When kept in an aquarium, it's crucial to provide a varied and nutritious diet to ensure their well-being. Copperband Butterflies readily accept a wide range of frozen and live foods, including brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, krill, and chopped seafood. It's recommended to offer a mix of protein-rich foods along with vitamin-enriched pellets or flakes to provide a balanced diet.

Care and Maintenance

Keeping a Copperband Butterfly in your saltwater aquarium requires careful attention to their specific care requirements. Here are some key considerations:

1. Tank Size and Environment:

A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a single Copperband Butterfly, as they need ample space to swim and explore. Ensure the aquarium is equipped with live rock structures, caves, and crevices to provide hiding spots and mimic their natural habitat. Maintain a stable water temperature between 75°F and 82°F (24°C to 28°C) and a pH level of 8.1 to 8.4 for optimal health.

2. Water Quality and Filtration:

Copperband Butterflies are sensitive to poor water quality, so regular monitoring and maintenance are crucial. Invest in a high-quality protein skimmer and efficient biological filtration to maintain excellent water conditions. Perform regular water tests and ensure proper levels of salinity, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

3. Lighting and Flow:

Provide moderate to high lighting in the aquarium to support the growth of beneficial algae and enhance the fish's overall coloration. Copperband Butterflies also appreciate moderate water flow, simulating their natural reef environment. Use powerheads or wavemakers to create gentle water movement without causing excessive turbulence.

Compatibility with Other Fish

Copperband Butterflies are generally peaceful and can coexist with a variety of tank mates. However, they may exhibit territorial behavior towards other Copperband Butterflies or similar-looking fish. It's advisable to introduce them as the last addition to an established aquarium to minimize any potential aggression.

When selecting tank mates for your Copperband Butterfly, consider peaceful species that are not known to be aggressive or overly territorial. Suitable companions include other peaceful reef fish, such as Clownfish, Gobies, Anthias, and certain species of Wrasses. Avoid housing them with large predatory fish or overly aggressive species that may intimidate or harm the Copperband Butterfly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What size tank is suitable for keeping a Copperband Butterfly?

A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a single Copperband Butterfly to provide enough space for swimming and exploration.

2. What do Copperband Butterflies eat in the wild?

In the wild, Copperband Butterflies primarily feed on small worms, shrimp, amphipods, and Aiptasia anemones.

3. Can Copperband Butterflies be kept in a reef aquarium?

Copperband Butterflies (Chelmon rostratus) are generally considered reef safe, but their compatibility with corals can vary. While they primarily feed on Aiptasia anemones, there have been reports of them nipping at small-polyped stony corals (SPS) or occasionally picking on coral polyps. However, this behavior is not universal, and many Copperband Butterflies coexist peacefully with corals. It's important to closely monitor their behavior and provide a well-fed diet to minimize the risk of coral aggression. Additionally, ensuring ample hiding places and suitable tank mates can help reduce stress and potential coral interactions.

4. Are Copperband Butterflies aggressive towards other fish?

Copperband Butterflies are generally peaceful, but they may exhibit territorial behavior towards other Copperband Butterflies or similar-looking fish.

5. How long do Copperband Butterflies typically live?

Copperband Butterflies have a lifespan of about 5 to 8 years if provided with proper care and a suitable habitat.

Copperband Butterfly Price

Looking to add a Copperband Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus) to your marine aquarium? While some retailers may offer this beautiful and popular species at a higher price point, up to $109.99 for medium size, there are alternatives that provide excellent value without compromising on quality.

At, you can find the same species as low as $68.79. This is a great opportunity to add this stunning fish to your collection while making a smart, budget-friendly choice.

But the savings don't stop there. Reefs4Less offers the Copperband Butterfly at an even more affordable price, as low as $39.99. This is an unbeatable deal for such a sought-after species, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of this fish in your own aquarium without straining your wallet.

Remember, a lower price doesn't mean lower quality. Both and Reefs4Less are trusted sources for marine aquarium species, ensuring you receive a healthy, vibrant Copperband Butterfly to enhance your aquatic environment

Price changes frequently due to season, availability, origin of the fish and other factors.We encourage you to shop these different retailers for current pricing.

Join the club! Get our best deals first!

Be The First To Hear About Our Exclusive Deals & Latest Updates!