The short video above is really quite something. To see a whole bunch of obligate coral eating butterflyfishes munching on homemade food is not something you see everyday. Sure it has been done before with adults but the success is greatly enhanced with tiny juveniles caught from the wild. Some are so small they look as though they have only spent a few days past their post settlement stage. We’ve seen this being done with Sustainable Aquatic’s Chaetodon plebius with good success and the video above is a testament that “re-wiring” the eating strategies of these untouchable group of fish is something that is not all impossible.
The short clip above featuring a group of tiny tiny butterflyfishes feasting on what appears to be a mixture of pellets and some form of homemade mash on a half-shell is just too awesome. The butterflyfish posse comprises of some well known “aquarium untouchables” that feed exclusively on stony coral such as Chaetodon plebius, Chaetodon trifasciatus, Chaetodon bennetti and Chaetodon speculum. Other standard issue, fairly easy aquarium suitable species such as C. ocellicaudus, C. ephippium, C. auripes and C. rafflesi also made their cameo appearance.
In case anyone was wondering, these thumbnail sized beauties are not captive bred. Instead, juveniles like these are collected from the wild where they are apparently very common in certain shallow parts of the reef. I would assume that the collection was made in Japan and it is actually pretty commonplace to find juveniles like these swimming in shallow water tide pools or harbors there. With emphasis on the date above, here’s another video uploaded on the 16th of October 2010, about a month before.
Here’s an even earlier one on October 8th 2010.
Although the time frame is rather short, it is clear that the fishes are eating well and have actually grown significantly. This is great news and as emphasized in the previous post on captive reared blue-spot butterflyfishes which has been linked above, collection and condition of these coral eating fish at a young age seems to have a positive effect. As such, perhaps in the future, these once untouchable species may very well be joining your hippo tangs, or your clownfishes in chasing pelleted food at the water surface.
Now we’re not suggesting you all go to your nearest fish store or rock pool to pick up your ornate butterflyfish or meyer’s butterflyfish. This group of fish, as gorgeous and tempting as they may be, are anything but easy. Getting them to feed is one thing, but sustaining them with an alternative diet in a large fish may prove to be quite a challenge. We’ve seen this done in the orange-spotted filefish, where captive individuals not only take prepared food, but actually spawn and fries raised to adulthood.
The general consensus as far as most aquarists a concerned is to leave these obligate feeders in the wild as their chances of survival in captivity are next to none. This method of collecting juveniles and weaning them onto aquarium fare is certainly nothing new. These videos are also not new and came up around the same time as when we posted about Sustainable Aquatic’s plebius butterflyfish. Videos such as these are encouraging and show that projects like these are not just based on flukes. Captive rearing projects don’t happen overtime and without getting too carried away, let’s just hope that within a few years, sustainably collected, aquarium trained ornate butterflies and melon butterflies will be added to the repertoire of captive reared aquarium fish.