By Bob Goemans
Site Supported in Part by:
Boyd Enterprises 


Hemitaurichthys polylepis

(Bleeker, 1857)

Pyramid Butterflyfish, Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-Pacific Ocean: Christmas Island north to Southern Japan, south to the Hawaiian Islands, and south to the Pitcairn Islands and New Caledonia.

Size: 7 inches (18 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits off shore reefs and found near deep drop-offs in large shoals at depths from about 10 to 150 feet (3 – 45 m) and is mainly a zooplankton feeder.

General Husbandry: This highly attractive and very hardy species has a dark brown/black face (as an adult), a large white triangle, hence the name ‘Pyramid Butterflyfish, on the sides of its body, with bright yellow coloration filling in the remaining body areas. Its dorsal and anal fins also bright yellow.

Adapts quite easily to aquarium life in larger reef style aquariums or peaceful fish-only community aquariums, especially those with lots of open swimming space. A meaty diet of live fortified brine shrimp, black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus), and/or various flake (containing Spirulina) and frozen meaty foods such as mysis, should be offered several times daily.

It can be maintained in fish-only or reef aquariums singly, in pairs, or in small groups, and is not a danger to corals. Nevertheless, may consume small decorative tubeworms and other useful small worms.

Rarely is there a problem getting this species to feed in the aquarium, however, small human consumption clams/black mussels purchased in local grocery stores and placed on the half-shell in the aquarium will help entice it to begin feeding. Over time, frozen foods like mysis and brine shrimp will be more readily accepted.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Chaetodontidae

    Genus: Hemitaurichthys

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: Beginner

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Coral Safe: Yes

Invertebrate Safe: Caution advised

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Reef aquarium (see above) and fish-only aquarium.

Tankmates: Peaceful or non-aggressive

Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons

Temperature Range: 72 - 82°F (22 – 27°C).

Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Pyramid Butterflyfish, Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish)
Photo © Bob Goemans
Site Supported in Part by:
Dr Gs Marine Aquaculture