By Bob Goemans
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Chaetodon madagaskariensis

Ahl, 1923

Seychelles Butterflyfish, Indian Ocean Chevron Butterflyfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indian Ocean: East Africa including Port Elizabeth, South Africa to the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Islands, north to Sri Lanka.

Size: 5 inches (12 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits coral rich outer reef slopes at depths between 35 to 200 feet (10 – 60 m) and mainly feeds on stony and soft coral polyps, worms, other invertebrates and minor amounts of algae.

General Husbandry: Quite attractive as its head is silvery with its coloring becoming more white as it goes further back on the body, and a triangular shaped orange patch at the peduncle. There’s also some irregular grey chevron lines on the body sides, a black band that connects both eyes and a black crown, both edged in white.

Best maintained in larger peaceful fish-only aquariums, especially those with lots of open swimming space, live rock hiding places, and having some micro and macroalgae growths. As to diet, a meaty diet of live fortified brine shrimp and/or black worms (Lumbriculus variegatus) is a good beginning. Once feeding regularly, various frozen meaty foods such as mysis, can be offered several times daily.

Even though basically a meat eater, there’s evidence it also injests some algae in the wild, therefore, flake foods, especially those containing Spirulina and/or Nori should also be occasionally offered. Not a difficult species to get feeding in captivity.

Yet 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. Over time, frozen foods like mysis and brine shrimp may be more readily accepted.

Its recommended there is only one species from this genus in the aquarium, as they tend to develop aggression toward others of the same genus.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Chaetodontidae

    Genus: Chaetodon

FYI: This species is almost identical to C. mertensii, which inhabits the areas from Southern Japan south to the Philippines south to Lord Howe, Rapa, and Tuamotu Islands.

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: 55 gallons

Temperature Range: 72 - 82°F (22 – 28°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 -1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Chaetodon madagaskariensis (Seychelles Butterflyfish, Indian Ocean Chevron Butterflyfish)
Photo © John Randall
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