By Bob Goemans
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Chaetodon rafflesii

(Bennett, 1830)

Latticed Butterflyfish, Raffles Butterflyfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Sri Lanka to Tumotus, north to Southern Japan, and south to the Great Barrier Reef.

Size: 6 inches (15 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits fringing reefs, back reefs, reef flats, and fore-reef slopes rich in soft and stony coral growth at depths between 3 to 50 feet (1 – 15 m) and feeds mainly on soft coral polyps, i.e., zoanthids, along with stony coral polyps, anemones, worms, hydroids, and minor amounts of filamentous algae.

General Husbandry: Quite attractive as it has a latticed/cross-hatched yellowish body, black eye band, and yellow dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins, with the yellow tail having a centrally located vertical black band.

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 live coral polyp consumer in the wild, 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.

This is usually a easy species to get feeding on regular aquarium foods, however, if refusing to eat, try small human consumption clams/black mussels purchased in local grocery stores and placed on the half-shell in the aquarium, which 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: Omnivore

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 rafflesii (Latticed Butterflyfish, Raffles Butterflyfish)
Photo © Bob Fenner
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Dr Gs Marine Aquaculture