By Bob Goemans
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Dr Gs Marine Aquaculture 


Chaetodon xanthurus

Bleeker, 1857

Crowned Pearlscale Butterflyfish, Yellowtail Butterflyfish

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Western Pacific Ocean: Indonesia to the Philippines, north to Southern Japan.

Size: 5 inches (14 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits coral rich outer reef slopes and drop-offs at depths between 50 – 100 feet (15 – 30 m) and feeds on soft and stony coral polyps, small benthic invertebrates and algae.

General Husbandry: Quite attractive as it looks very similar to that of C. mertensii, Merten’s Butterflyfish, as its body is also white with numerous chevron shaped grey lines/crosshatched pattern, black eye band edged in white, a black crown also edged in white, with the posterior of the body and adjacent dorsal and anal fins a reddish-orange, with the tail widely edged in a similar color.

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. 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.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Chaetodontidae

    Genus: Chaetodon

FYI: More than one can be maintained in the same aquarium or with others from its genus, yet best to introduce all at the same time.

Juveniles acclimate more easily to aquarium life than do adults.

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 - 81°F (22 – 27°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 -1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Chaetodon xanthurus (Crowned Pearlscale Butterflyfish, Yellowtail Butterflyfish)
Photo © Bob Goemans
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