YES or NO: The Beautiful Copperband Butterfly Fish for Your Reef Tank?

BRS

Should the Copperband Butterfly Fish be attempted in our home aquariums?

  • Yes for every level of hobbyists

    Votes: 40 5.8%
  • Yes but for the more expert level of hobbyists

    Votes: 528 76.5%
  • No they should not

    Votes: 100 14.5%
  • Other (please explain in the thread)

    Votes: 22 3.2%

  • Total voters
    690

revhtree

Owner Administrator
Review score
+1 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
43,664
Reaction score
68,628
Review score
+1 /0 /-0
The Copperband butterfly fish is one of the most beautiful fish that is readily available in our hobby and is in the "more affordable" range. People love the CBB fish for many reasons with one of those being that they can use that slender "snout" to get deep into crevices and eat aiptasia anemones! They like to snack on those! But the problem is widely known that they are not very hardy when it comes to being acclimated into our home aquariums because of how finicky and deliberate they are at eating. So let's talk about them today!

1. Should the Copperband Butterfly Fish be attempted in our home aquariums?

2. What are your personal experiences with the CBB? Also any tips for those of you who have been successful?


bigstock-The-Copperband-Butterfly-Fish--385345244.jpg
 

piranhaman00

2500 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
3,152
Reaction score
2,949
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
I had one for over a year that ate great, however, after my tangs started growing more and eating more I could not get the cbb food. He died after 1.5 years from lack of food, very sad but he just couldnt compete.

I think they are good for certain tanks but not all.
 

rusty hannon

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Messages
621
Reaction score
508
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Other was my reply because LM not sure what constitutes an expert, and I'm not one. I have tried in the past w no luck, but in the last 3 to 4 years have been successful. I think the time put into research and care is the difference. They are not just another fish. They are delicate creatures w specific dietary needs. I got my last 2 to eat and get a good start by information given from a breeder. Their advice was to buy some clams on the half shell from grocery store, freeze, then shave. They love it. Another was live blk worms. If a person isn't ready or able to dedicate the time to their needs, I suggest another fish until they can.
 

WVNed

The fish are staring at me with hungry eyes.
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
Messages
7,980
Reaction score
34,279
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Hurricane, WV
Mine would only eat live white worms or live things it found in the tank for many months. It has just started eating frozen mysis shrimp. Had I not been ready with worm cultures going I dont think it would have lived.

It wont eat LRS, clams slices or half shell or Masstick.
 
Last edited:

[email protected]

Living the Reef Life
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
32,893
Reaction score
47,188
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Ontario, California
I also think it's hard to get a good specimen. IME once they're eating you're probably good to go, but getting them to eat initially isn't always possible. I'm not sure if that's collection issues or just that they're a more fragile fish. In any case, I'd say they should be attempted only once someone knows enough about fish in general and has specifically researched this fish to know and meet its needs.
 

ReefGeezer

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
673
Reaction score
809
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Wichita, KS
What are your personal experiences with the CBB? Also any tips for those of you who have been successful?

I've kept several CBBs over the years. I mostly have had good luck with them in peaceful, lightly stocked tanks. I haven't done so well with them in tanks where they have to compete for food.

I think the key is to find a specimen that isn't already starving, and getting it to eat. I look to make sure there is no indention of the body above the lateral line, particularly near the head. I also look for a round belly rather than a flat one.

Like others have said, clams and blackworms work. Rock with Aiptasia, polyps, or other small anemone like organizms on it can also provide something for it to peck at while it learns to eat other stuff.

If the specimen will eat when you buy it, consider it as a bonus. Also, be careful, sometimes they'll mouth the food and just spit it out... that's not eating.
 

Rubberfrog

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
917
Reaction score
2,004
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Phoenix metro
1. No, for "beginners" or folks that want a less needy aquarium
2. I have had one. Feeding it was a chore, literally. It was not an aggressive eater, and its tank mates usually decimated the food before the CB had its fill. I eventually grew weary of finding ways to get it to eat sufficient amounts of food. I rehomed it after about six months.
 

Billdogg

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jun 3, 2017
Messages
2,004
Reaction score
2,945
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Grove City, Ohio
I tried a few many years ago and never had any luck, but I always had trouble with clowns too! Of course, back then (30 years ago) everything was wild caught and the clowns definitely came with disease. I can now happily report that my pair of captive bred clowns are doing well, and have been for a couple years now. Perhaps it's time to try another CBB???
 

sp1187

The Great Enabler
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Aug 4, 2017
Messages
9,727
Reaction score
49,774
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Grand Blanc MI
I feed my fish using a turkey baster so I can make sure the not so aggressive feeders get theirs.
my cbb reaches in to the turkey baster to grab food before it's squirted in to the tank.
 

Dragonsreef

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
1,818
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Ive had a few over the years my current one is about 5-6 years old. I think ive had 4 total over the last 20 years, 1 died within 2 months but the others lasted years.

My secret for success is live black worms. They love them. I start mixing frozen blood worms with the live ones after a few feedings, then switch solely to frozen. Before long they seem to eat anything that goes in.
20200126_175525.jpg

 

jamie1210

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
138
Reaction score
143
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
SoCal
Those who tried feeding live blackworms and clams on a half shell--have you ever had any cases of a CBB NOT eating live blackworms/clams on a half shell?

I picked one up a couple weeks ago. I put him in QT so that he can quietly eat and proceeded to feed live blackworms and clams on a half shell. No luck. After 3 days, I didn't want to see him starve, so I put him in my DT. still not eating, no matter WHAT i'm feeding--continue worms, clams, started adding LRS, mysis, NOTHING. Sucks :(
 

reefluvrr

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Aug 20, 2016
Messages
345
Reaction score
403
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
I purchased mine to eat aptasias in my tank. As the population of aptasia decreased my copper band transitioned over to enriched frozen brineshrimp and mysis shrimp cubes. Great personality. Always swims to the front of the tank whenever I approach.
 

vlangel

Seahorse whisperer
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
4,041
Reaction score
2,650
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
I have never attempted one in the 20+ years I have been reef keeping. I have done seahorses successfully which are another fish with particular needs. However when my last pony passed I was ready for an aquarium with less demands, so no CBB for me at the moment. Maybe someday.
 

Anirban

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Messages
5,263
Reaction score
9,293
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Chapel Hill
I had one in my earlier tank and lost during my house move. Got the new tank up and now again I have one. They are interesting fish. Mine eats everything except pellets as its too small for the pellet size. But generally you can train them to eat pellet too. Always make sure they are eating and healthy before you buy one. Here is mine with his big brother.

20210313_172005.jpg
 
Last edited:

Miller535

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Dec 11, 2019
Messages
2,203
Reaction score
1,911
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I think they are very beautiful, but I just won't keep one. I don't want to buy any fish that I don't KNOW that I can feed it what it wants and what it needs to eat and have enough to eat.

In my experience (for the most part) the only difference for most of the fish listed as "hard" or "expert only", is that their food requirements are harder to feed. Meaning they are probably not going to touch your pellets, flakes, or frozen foods. They eat sponges, certain corals, etc.

I am at a point in my reefing life where I do not want to go out of my way to feed any fish or make sure that they are getting enough food. I know that about myself. So I will simply enjoy them in other people's tanks. Perhaps this will change some day when my kids are grown and on their own. Who knows.
 

alysak6075

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
210
Reaction score
146
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Those who tried feeding live blackworms and clams on a half shell--have you ever had any cases of a CBB NOT eating live blackworms/clams on a half shell?

I picked one up a couple weeks ago. I put him in QT so that he can quietly eat and proceeded to feed live blackworms and clams on a half shell. No luck. After 3 days, I didn't want to see him starve, so I put him in my DT. still not eating, no matter WHAT i'm feeding--continue worms, clams, started adding LRS, mysis, NOTHING. Sucks :(
Mine wont eat live black worms, but goes for mysis. Is probably one of the most aggressive fish in the tank. I have a blue hippo and a purple tang in there as well as a magnificent foxface. And out of all of them its the CBB thats the *******. I should call this tank the upside down tank smh.

Picks at rocks and sand bed as well. Eats some of the aiptasias. Before the CBB the pests would multiply like crazy. Now that i've had the CBB for a few months, the aiptasias stopped multiplying. So i think the CBB is having an effect on them.
 

Biokabe

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
1,717
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Tacoma, WA
I've been wanting to try one for a while now, but I have clams in my aquarium and I don't want to go through all the trouble of getting a CBB through QT and eating, only to have to choose between the clam and the CBB. Otherwise I'd try in a heartbeat... gorgeous, mostly reef-safe fish that also keeps aiptasia in check? What's not to like?

But with how delicate they are, I wouldn't want to force it through multiple rehomings if it decides it likes my clams.
 

Paul B

10K Club member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
14,584
Reaction score
45,627
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Long Island NY
I just love Copperbands and almost always had one in my reef. I got this one last year to replace my last one which lived about 10 years then developed a neurological condition. (or he went senile) :(



They are big eaters but can't bite very large foods. Live worms are what they eat in the sea and definately their favorite food. If you feed to many worms, they won't eat anything else. I give them mostly clams and mysis with live worms a few times a week.
An aged tank with some growth on it is best as they like to hunt under rocks.

I don't know how long they live but I have never been able to keep one longer than 10 years and they are also jumpers which is how I lost a couple of them. But really nice fish.

I personally would not quarantine one, but I wouldn't quarantine anything. But if you are going to quarantine one, resist the urge to put it in a tank with PVC elbows, they hate that and will be stressed. Use something not stark white like clay bricks, fake coral etc and offer hiding places where they can get completely out of sight.
They don't want to look at you no matter how good looking you are as they are a little skitish.

 
Santa Monica Filtration
Top