Know your butterfly fish

September 24, 2011

Butterfly Fish

Thriving mostly in oceans, the butterfly fish butterfly fish are small and thin disk shaped fish almost of the size of a tea cup. They typically have a pointed nose and come in many varieties. The most common butterfly fish is the four-eyed butterfly fish. The other varieties are the spot fin; the reef butterfly and the banded butterfly fish. They are identified primarily by their color pattern which follows a bright yellow outline and bright white in the middle of the body. The head often is a darker golden yellow with the fins a bright white. Another characteristic feature is a dark band running vertically through each eye.

They are known by the scientific name Hemitaurichthys polyepis and are also called the Banded Butterfly fish. They are quite passive by nature and survive easily in fish tanks with other non aggressive varieties of fish. They are non fussy about food and accept any kind of food including prepared food, chopped seafood ar even live shrimp. They can survive even in reef tanks. The butterfly fish can hide themselves easily behind coral reefs and scavenge out small coral animals with the help of their pointed snouts. They are usually 7 to 8 inches long.

The butterfly fish mostly sport yellow, black or white colors. The four-eyed butterfly is whitish or pale yellow with a characteristic dark spot on the tail fin. The banded butterfly has alternating black and white while the spot fin comes in shades of yellow stripes akin to a zebra. The reef butterfly has the upper half as yellow with the bottom of the belly as white.

The butterfly fish usually have just one partner and are known to raise their young ones together. If one perishes then the other one may not survive long. They release many buoyant eggs into the water that float with the current until hatching. They go througha thiolichthys stage and then lose their bony plates as they mature.

They are generally diurnal fish found mostly in waters with a depth of less than 18 meters (59 ft). They have their own territories and do not like other butterfly fish messing in their s. In pairs, they stake claim to a particular coral head and make it their property. However certain species of butterfly fish that feed on zoo planktons are con specific and have no territorial claims. Found mostly on reefs, they make a visually delightful picture while swimming around in groups of three to six. If disturbed they just scurry off on a jiffy and return again after a while. Their intricate patterns with eye-catching backgrounds are truly amazing to watch. They closely resemble the angel fish and simply spend the whole day pecking at reefs with their pointed snouts. However, unlike angel fish they do not have the pre-opercula spines at the gill covers.

There are about 114 species of butterfly fish all over the world. At night they settle in dark crevices and their over bright colors fade to match with the surrounding environment to protect them from being identified. Butterfly fish are one of the most sought after species for rearing in aquaria.

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