Golden Butterfly Fish
||Name: (Golden) Butterfly Fish (Blue-cheeked Butterfly Fish; Addis Butterfly
Fish, Masked Butterfly Fish)
|Scientific name: Chaetodon semilarvatus
|Range: West Africa river regions.
|Habitat: Tropical -- Primarily found in the Niger
and Conga Rivers.
|Status: Not threatened
|Diet in the wild: Flying insects, and some small fish..
|Diet in the zoo: Meal worms
|Location in the zoo: Aquarium
Growing to around 8 inches at maturity, the golden butterfly fish (Chaetodon
semilarvatus) is one of nature's unique beauties. As the name
implies, they are a golden yellow color. Their pectoral fins are enlarged
and wing like. Their head and back are flattened, with the dorsal
fin located far to the rear of the body. They have thread shaped
elongated rays on their pelvic fins, which function as tactile receptors.
The scales of the butterfly fish lack ornamentation, however they appear
to have tiger like stripes growing vertically along the middle of
their body. Given the scientific name Chaetodon -- "bristle-toothed"
-- the tigerish appearance may be warranted, and indeed these attractive
fish are predators.
Golden Butterfly Fish
The large pectoral fins of the butterfly fish allow them to "jump"
up from the water and through the air, giving them the appearance of flying,
thus the name "butterfly." The butterfly fish is generally found
floating at the top of the water where it appears to hang from the surface.
This makes it convenient for them to reach their food supply, which consists
mainly of flying insects. To an insect that suddenly finds itself
the prey of a golden fish charging out of the water, the fish may
look more like the tiger its stripes suggest rather than a butterfly.
These fish are normally found in pairs, although in captivity, it is
suggested that they not be kept in the same tank unless one is much smaller
than the other. Some species appear to be monogamous. Courtship
is enthusiastic, ending with mating at dusk. Butterfly fish are egg-layers,
and the eggs develop free in the water without parental care. In
many species of butterflyfish, the young are a different color from their
The young larvae are of a type unique to butterflyfish -- "tholichthys
larvae" -- and look much like small insects themselves. The head
is armored, with plates projecting from the head toward the back.
These larvae grow to a few centimeters across and then transform
into a tiny miniature of the adult.
|Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations:
The very large "wing" like pectoral fin of the butterfly fish makes
it easy for it to leap out of the water to catch flying insects. In its
natural environment this species would be found in pairs, and would be
"hanging" up near the top of the water. Notice its reflection as it hangs
near the top of the tank.
The butterfly fish found at the Fort Worth Zoo is kept in a tank alone.
In captivity it has habituated to its tank, and therefore does not attempt
to stay at the top of the water. Other reasons for this could be
that it does not have to seek flying insects for food, and that it is unable
to leap out of the water, therefore preferring to swim around at leisure
in its tank. The tank is close to Penguin Island, located on the right
as you descend down the ramp.
Comments about the butterfly fish at the Fort
The golden butterfly fish is one of the most beautiful to be found in the
aquarium of the Fort Worth Zoo. It does not move around a lot, but rather
seems to just float through the water.
at the Fort Worth Zoo