By Bob Goemans
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Chaetodon pelewensis

Kner, 1868

Dot-and-Dash Butterflyfish, Sunset Butterflyfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-Pacific Ocean: Papua New Guinea to the Tuamotu Islands, south to the Great Barrier Reef and Lord Howe Island.

Size: 5 inches (12 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits coral rich lagoons, reef slopes and reef faces at depths between 3 to 100 feet (1 – 30 m) and mainly feeds on stony and soft coral polyps, along with minor amounts of worms and algae.

General Husbandry: Quite attractive as it has a yellowish tan body with about seven rows of slanted horizontal dark spots and stripes, yellow eye band edged in black, small black patch on forehead, 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 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. All must be finely chopped, as this species has a very small mouth.

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.

Usually an easy species to get feeding in the home aquarium as it accepts a wide variety of aquarium foods, nevertheless, 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 and various flake foods may be more readily accepted.

Can be maintained with other butterflyfish species or this species, but all should be introduced at the same time.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Chaetodontidae

    Genus: Chaetodon

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: 55 gallons

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

Specific Gravity: 1.020 -1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Chaetodon pelewensis (Dot-and-Dash Butterflyfish, Sunset Butterflyfish)
Photo © Bob Fenner
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