By Bob Goemans
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Dr Gs Marine Aquaculture 


Chaetodon kleinii

Bloch, 1790

Klein’s Butterflyfish, Sunburst Butterflyfish, Orange Butterflyfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Widespread- East Africa to Hawaii, north to Southern Japan, and south to Lord Howe Island.

Size: 6 inches (14 cm)

Natural Environment: This extremely widespread species inhabits deep lagoons, back-reef areas, boat channels, reef faces and slopes at depths between 10 to about 400 feet (3 – 120 m) and feeds on filamentous algae, soft coral ployps, sea anemones, hydroids, sponges, crustaceans, and worms.

Natural Environment: This attractive and very hardy species, probably the most durable in this entire family, has a yellowish body, white facial area, black eye band and yellow dorsal, anal and tail fins.

Best maintained in larger peaceful fish-only aquariums, especially those with lots of open swimming space, live rock hiding places, and having micro and macroalgae growths. As to diet, this species is said to be an excellent browser of filamentous algae, therefore flake foods, especially those containing Spirulina and/or Nori should be offered, as should a meaty diet of live fortified brine shrimp, black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus), and/or various frozen meaty foods such as mysis, and overall be offered several times daily.

Even though it can be maintained in reef aquariums, its not fully trustworthy as its been known to nip at soft corals. It’s also said to be a good consumer of Aiptasia anemones, however its appetite for them declines if there is a supply of more suitable/preferred foods. It may also consume small decorative tubeworms and other useful small worms.

Often a great addition to most reef aquariums when its needs are met.

Even though usually quite easy to get feeding, should there be some difficulty, 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: Chaetodon

FYI: Can be maintained with others in the same genus and/or other family butterflyfish and even slightly more aggressive species if those are introduced later.

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: Omnivore

Coral Safe: Caution advised

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: 75 gallons

Temperature Range: 70 - 82°F (21 – 28°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 -1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Chaetodon kleinii (Klein’s Butterflyfish, Sunburst Butterflyfish, Orange Butterflyfish )
Photo © Bob Goemans
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