Spotfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellatus)

Spotfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellatus)


  • Family: Chaetodontidae
  • Origin: Tropical Western Atlantic
  • Max. Size: 8″
  • Color Form: Black, White, Yellow
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Reef Compatible: With Caution
  • Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025


Bold, bright, and easy to care for, the Spotfin Reef Butterfly is named for the small, black spot located on the end of the dorsal fin. Adults are white, with bright yellow pelvic and caudal fins, and a narrow yellow bar from the gill to the base of the pectoral fins. A vivid black, vertical bar on the head passes through the eye. Juveniles exhibit an added dark spot at the base of the anal fins with a shadowy streak that extends to the small spot on the dorsal fin.

What really sets the Spotfin Reef Butterfly apart is at night, this fish undergoes remarkable changes. The large, dusky smudge on the dorsal fin becomes black and broad, and dark bands appear on the body. It is also known to sometimes swim upside down, and occasionally squirt water like fountain above the waterline.

The Spotfin Reef Butterfly is peaceful, most commonly found in shallow waters around coral reefs alone or in bonded pairs, who form a lifelong partnership. Most active during the day, they change color and seek shelter for sleep in the evening, as they are highly vulnerable to larger predators. Fellow tankmates should be peaceful in nature.

A finicky carnivore, the Spotfin Reef Butterfly can be somewhat difficult to entice at first. To encourage eating, offer live, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, clam, and mashed squid or shrimp. Once eating regularly, offer mysis shrimp and frozen carnivore preparations at least three times a day.

Approximate Purchase Size: Small 1-1/2″ to 2″ Medium 2″ to 3 1/4″ Large 3 1/4″ to 4 1/2″ X Large 4 1/2″ to 6″


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