By Bob Goemans
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Two Little Fishies 


Heniochus varius

(Cuvier, 1829)

Humphead Bannerfish, Brown Bannerfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Western Pacific Ocean: Indonesia and Philippines, north to Southern Japan, and south to New Caledonia.

Size: 8 inches (20 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits reef crests and fore-reef slopes at depths between 6 – 100 feet (2 – 30 m) and feeds mainly on sponges, stony coral polyps, worms, and tunicates/sea squirts.

General Husbandry: Rarely seen in the trade. Has a dark brown body and face that is divided by a slanting narrow white band. Pelvic and anal fins are dark brown, dorsal light brown, with a slanted white band, and the caudal fin is clear. Has a hump on the forehead and a curved horn over each eye.

Best maintained in larger peaceful fish-only aquariums, especially those with lots of open swimming space, and having lots of live rock caves to hide in. As to diet, difficult to get feeding, therefore, beginning with live enriched brine shrimp and live black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus) should first be tried and offered several times daily. Once feeding regularly it is very hardy and can be fed various frozen meaty foods such as mysis and enriched brine shrimp.

Should there be a problem getting this species to feed, small human consumption clams/black mussels purchased in local grocery stores and placed on the half-shell in the aquarium may help entice it to begin feeding.

One per aquarium unless a mated pair.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Chaetodontidae

    Genus: Heniochus

FYI: Pressing some soft foods into openings/crevices on a piece of old dead coral skeleton can sometimes encourage finicky eaters to begin feeding.

Experience Level: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Coral Safe: No

Invertebrate Safe: No

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Fish-only aquarium

Tankmates: Peaceful or non-aggressive

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Temperature Range: 74 - 82°F (23 – 28°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 -1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Heniochus varius (Humphead Bannerfish, Brown Bannerfish)
Photo © Bob Goemans
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