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Butterfly Fish

Butterfly Fish

includes auriga, heniochus, fourspot and raccoon

Butterfly Fish usually have a dark-striped band that runs through the eye on both sides of their face. Many Butterflies have special feeding requirements which can include live coral polyps. Most commonly found in tropical Pacific and Indian oceans. Recommended for experienced aquarists.

Butterfly Fish

Butterfly Fish Facts

Average Adult Size 3 to 9 inches across, depending on species
Average Life Span depends on species
Diet omnivore
Minimum Aquarium Size 50+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature: 72-82°F
Salinity Level: 1.020-1.026


A well-balanced Butterfly Fish diet consists of:

  • Pellets, freeze dried, frozen or live coral.
  • Vary diet to ensure proper nutritional balance.


Things to remember when feeding your Butterfly fish:

  • Depending on species and size, feed small amounts two to three times daily, no more than fish will eat in 3-5 minutes.
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding.


  • Keep in an appropriate size aquarium.
  • Stable water quality, water temperature, and pH levels are critical to the health of the aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality or pH levels, Petco provides free water testing.


  • Known for the darkcolored vertical stripe that usually runs through their eyes.
  • Tend to swim in pairs or small schools.
  • Shy and peaceful; usually inhabit the middle and lower part of the tank.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Daily: check filter, water temperature and other equipment.
  • Weekly: check water quality at least once a week; check salinity levels at least twice a week.
  • Monthly: change 10-25% of the total volume of water every 2-4 weeks, or as needed.
  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually.


  • Can be aggressive with other Butterfly fish or similar-looking fish.
  • Avoid coral reef tanks since they like to eat coral.


Signs of a Healthy Fish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged

Avoid overcrowded conditions; they are a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration.

Red Flags

  • loss of color
  • spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • erratic swimming
  • labored breathing

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Fin rot Symptoms or Causes Frayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested Action Improve water quality; consult your aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health Issue Marine ich Symptoms or Causes Cysts on fins, gills, and skin; labored breathing, excess skin mucus or pale skin. Suggested Action Treat entire aquarium with a commercial parasite remedy and improve water quality; freshwater dips can dislodge the parasites.


Ask an associate about Petco’s selection of books on Butterfly Fish and the variety of Petco Brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All Petco Brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5 and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.