Many of the 114-odd species of butterflyfish (family Chaetodontidae) are well-known to aquarists and the general public alike because of their attractive color patterns and their habit of forming long-term pair bonds. Some species are also notorious among fishkeepers because of their specialized dietary habits, which can make them particularly difficult to keep alive in captivity. Also known as the punctatofasciatus butterfly, the spot-banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon punctatofasciatus) is an attractive fish species that tends not to be a finicky eater in captivity and often acclimates to aquarium living with relative ease.
Difficulty: The spot-banded butterflyfish may not be a good choice for the beginner, but it is moderately hardy for a chaetodontid. The key to success with the spot-banded butterflyfish is to find a specimen that has not been subjected to too much stress before it arrived in your local fish store. One of the easiest ways to get an idea of its current physical state is to see if the spot-banded butterflyfish will eat. If the spot-banded butterflyfish eats with gusto, you should have no problems keeping it alive, provided you give it a varied diet. This diet should include frozen seafood (use a cheese grater to shave off finer pieces), frozen fish eggs, mysid shrimp and frozen preparations for herbivores.
Physical description: The spot-banded butterflyfish is yellowish-tan with a yellow back. The spot-banded butterflyfish has seven dark bars on the body and spots below these bars. There is an orange bar through the eye and an orange patch just in front of the tail. The spot-banded butterflyfish attains a maximum length of about 5 inches. Chaetodon punctatofasciatus is very similar to (and sometimes confused with) the dot-and-dash butterflyfish (C. pelewensis). This species differs from C. punctatofasciatus in that it has diagonal bars (rather than vertical) on the body. The two species are so similar that they sometimes hybridize.
Range: The spot-banded butterflyfish is found from Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) east to the Line Islands in the Pacific. The spot-banded butterflyfish tends to frequent lagoon reefs, reef faces and slopes where it is reported from a depth of less than 3 to 150 feet. The spot-banded butterflyfish is an omnivore. It ingests filamentous algae, as well as stony and soft coral polyps, polychaete worm tentacles and copepods. Like many butterflyfish, the spot-banded butterflyfish is usually seen in pairs, which defend a large territory from members of their own kind.
Compatability: Chaetodon punctatofasciatus tends to be a peace-loving aquarium species. With the exception of members of its own kind or similar species (e.g., C. pelewensis), it most often ignores other fish in its aquarium home. On the other hand, the spot-banded butterflyfish may be bullied by large dottybacks, damselfish (including anemonefish), angelfish, surgeonfish and triggerfish. If you choose to keep C. punctatofasciatus in an aquarium with moderately aggressive species, make sure it is in the aquarium and fully acclimated before adding potential hooligans. The spot-banded butterflyfish can be kept in heterosexual pairs, but you will have to be willing to experiment. If you add two individual spot-banded butterflyfish and they fight, you probably have two spot-banded butterflyfish of the same sex, and one will have to be removed. It is a case of trial-and-error, as no external differences between the sexes of the spot-banded butterflyfish is known.
Aquarium conditions: The spot-banded butterflyfish is an active species that moves over a large area of the reef every day. While we can never give the spot-banded butterflyfish that much room in captivity, a larger aquarium with plenty of open space will help ensure its acclimation. Adult spot-banded butterflyfish do best in aquariums of 100 gallons or more. A few good hiding places where the spot-banded butterflyfish can retreat when threatened are also a must. Keep the water parameters for the spot-banded butterflyfish as follows: pH of 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity of 1.019 to 1.025 and a water temperature of 74 to 82.
Care considerations: The spot-banded butterflyfish will not do well in an aquarium full of bullies. The spot-banded butterflyfish is likely to be shy initially, and if it is harassed it is likely to not eat and will end up cowering in a corner of the aquarium.
Breeding: The spot-banded butterflyfish is not likely to spawn in the home aquarium.