First, it is important to remember that
a lot of butterflies may be very attractive
but have issues that keep them from being
good recommendations, such as those that
are not hardy and thus fare poorly in
the collection, transportation, and holding
process. And many are obligate corallivores.
This means they eat coral and only coral,
and would have to be fed corals on a daily
basis in an aquarium. That’s obviously not
feasible for hobbyists unless they want to
buy a lot of corals to keep a fish healthy.
There are a lot of butterflies out there that
are not what you’d want to put in a typical
home aquarium, so I’ll only recommend
species that will typically eat a range of
With that said, keeping many of the
butterflies that do eat more than coral can
also be problematic at times, especially in
the beginning. While many will eventually
learn to eat a variety of aquarium foods,
some won’t do so at first. Thus, they
may require the provision of live foods
such as brine shrimp or copepods, or
crushed live clams for a while. They may
even require something like a few small
anemones to get them to start feeding
once added to an aquarium, so that may
be something you have to try, although the
species I’ve chosen are unlikely to be that
troublesome. It also helps to avoid large
specimens, as big ones tend to be far less
adaptive to aquarium diets.
If you can get a specimen started on
something, it’ll typically learn to take other
foods such as frozen mysids, enriched
brine shrimp, zooplankton, chopped clam,
or chopped shrimp, with many eventually
taking flake foods and even small pellets.
And the species below tend to be as hardy
as any other type of aquarium fish once
they begin feeding well. Do keep in mind
that any of these should be fed two to
three times a day at a minimum.
Aside from feeding considerations, all
of these fishes tend to fare best when
provided with a mix of swimming space
and a lot of hiding spaces, so you should
have plenty of rockwork or decorations
in their aquarium to keep them happy
and healthy. They should all be kept in a
tank of appropriate size, too, of course.
While smaller tanks are fine for smaller
specimens, most of these should be kept in
a tank that’s at least 6 feet (180 cm) long
when they’re at their adult size.
When it comes to compatibility with
other fishes, most butterflies will get
along fine with anything else that’s not
a butterfly, but many are intolerant of
anything else that is. Some spend most of
their lives alone, unless it’s time to find a
mate, and typically won’t get along with
any butterflies of the same or even similar
species. However, there are some that
move about in groups and can be kept that
way (in large aquariums), and many that
can be kept successfully in male-female
pairs. I’ll give some details for each species
72 www.tfhmagazine.com Jul/Aug 2017
Raccoon butterflies (C. lunula) are best kept one per tank unless a mated pair can be obtained.
The auriga butterfly (C. auriga).