What Does Butterflyfish Eat? (Diet Guide & Feeding)

Butterflyfish are generally carnivorous, and butterflyfish eat almost everything of their compatible eating size that they can eat. Though some species are omnivorous that feed on algae growing on the reefs.

The animals that the butterflyfish eat in the wild are crustaceans like shrimps, prawns, crabs, other small-sized crustaceans, delicate and hard corals, sea anemones, phylum cnidarian, and a lot of invertebrate species.

In aquariums, butterflyfish should be fed on various vitamin-enriched omnivorous diets. Frozen carnivorous food can also be given to them in the aquarium. Make sure to chop up the meaty food finely as they have small mouths.

The obligate corallivorous species are not recommended to be acquired as it is almost impossible to provide them with coral food in the aquarium.

Food List for Butterflyfish

As discussed earlier, butterflyfish is the main group of almost 129 subgroups (species). Such a diverse animal group feeds on a wide range of carnivorous, herbivorous, and coral diets.

What Do Butterflyfish Eat
Butterfly Fish Food List

Overall the butterflyfish are omnivorous, but meaty food is their primary choice. Only a few species, such as raccoon butterflyfish and Merten butterflyfish, have no interest in nipping on the corals.

However, they do nip on the corals occasionally. Given below is the list of foods that butterflyfish eat in the wild

  • Zooplanktons
  • Small crustaceans(Brine shrimps, Mysis shrimps, crabs)
  • Corals(stony coral polyps and soft coral polyps)
  • Anemones(sea anemones, glass anemones)
  • Tubeworms
  • Soft invertebrates
  • Some small fish
  • Algae and seaweeds
  • Annelid worms
  • Benthic worms
  • Hydrozoans
  • Small Arthropods
  • Small spiders

While In the aquarium a variety of diets is given to the butterflyfish that has already been discussed in detail above.

Do Butterflyfish Eat Anemones?

The answer is yes, the butterflyfish eat sea anemones. Butterflyfish is one of the fish that do munch on tentacles of an anemone. Sea anemones are invertebrates and belong to the phylum cnidaria.

As the invertebrates make up a considerable portion of Butterfly fish’s diet, so do the anemones. They are given the name sea anemones because of their striking resemblance to a terrestrial anemone plant.

The butterflyfish feeds on the anemones by pricking and crunching the small bites out of the tentacles through their snouty beak-like mouths.  Sea anemones are closely related to corals and other animals like a hydra. So, corallivorous butterfly feeds on the sea anemones as well.

Do Butterflyfish Eat Corals?

The conical tapered nose or snout of butterflyfish is mainly adapted to nip on the Corals and search the food out of crevices. Generally, the butterflyfish are omnivorous because they feed on seaweeds and algal matter occasionally.

What Do Tuna Fish Eat? (Food List & Eating Habits)

But the butterflyfish also account for one of the major coral-eating marine creatures. This is the reason why they are named with another fascinating feeding terminology, “The Corallivores.”

They feed on various prey in the wild, mostly including small crustaceans such as shrimps but evolutionary. Butterfly species are adapted to nip on the invertebrates as well. They play an important role in the regulation and maintenance of the reef by checking their population.

You can find them in the areas where coral reefs are abundant and feed on the soft and stony coral polyps in the wild and other varieties of prey.

How Often Do Butterflyfish Eat?

In the wild, butterflyfish lives near the abundance of reefs that reside in the diverse life in them. Corals are a part of their diet but to some extent. Only a few butterflyfish species are regarded as true corallivores as corals make up a huge portion of their diet.

In the wild, they have easy and timely access to food, but you should mostly feed the adults a varied diet two times a day in the aquarium. But experts recommend giving multiple-time small feedings to juveniles throughout the day. The expert aquarists recommend it to be 3 to 4 times a day.

What Do African Butterflyfish Eat? 

The P.buccholzi, commonly known as African butterflyfish, is a carnivorous ambush predator. It grows up to the length of 5 inches, and they eat every meaty thing which fits to be its prey.

It is an ambush predator and waits for its prey. African butterflyfish is a surface eater and does not eat anything which falls on the bottom.

The African butterflyfish chiefly love to eat little crustaceans like brine shrimps, prawns, crabs, small larvae, especially mosquito larvae, Small arthropods like live insects, miniature spiders.

In the aquarium, the African butterflyfish need to be fed multiple times a day. It is recommended to feed your African butterflyfish fish at least 2 to 3 times a day, and if needed, you can feed them a maximum of 4 to 5 times a day.

They can eat all types of meaty food as they are carnivorous. The food can get their attention if the food is significantly large enough to be seen by them floating in the aquarium.

Live insects make up a big portion of their diet, but small fishes and worms like bloodworms can also be given to them. Experienced aquarists also add live crickets to the feeding routine of their African butterflyfish.

Cricket is the best food for inducing spawning in the African butterflyfish. The pellets and flakes should also be given to the fish from time to time because they are enriched with needed nutritional elements like important vitamins, proteins, and minerals.

What Do Copperband Butterflyfish Eat?

This butterflyfish group is considered a peaceful and harmonious group of fish that bloom well in irenic community tanks. It is an omnivorous creature that occasionally feeds on an herbivorous diet. But primarily, it is a carnivorous fish in the wild.

What Do Copperband Butterflyfish Eat?
What Do Copperband Butterflyfish Eat?

It searches the food like glass anemones around the crevices and rocks with its long beak. The copperband butterflyfish also feeds on the tubeworms, small crustaceans like brine shrimps. It occasionally nips on the coral polyps as well.

The caring and feeding of Copperband butterflyfish in the aquarium is a real deal. It comes with a lot of things to take care of. Feeding Copperband butterflyfish is not as easy as you think.

If you fail to have a feeding routine on track then you can expect this fish to wither and die in your tank. This is why beginner hobbyists should refrain from acquiring the copperband butterflyfish.

Diet is the number one importance in housing the copperband butterflyfish. These butterflyfish are carnivorous primarily but they can also eat non-meaty diets occasionally.

In the aquarium, they should be fed on a wide range of varied diets. Live, frozen as well as flake foods keep them good going. It is proposed to keep the copperband butterflyfish on the live food before shifting to them the frozen diet.

Live food includes bloodworms, blackworms, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, insect larvae, mussels. The frozen food includes frozen shrimps and frozen worms(white worms).

What Do Raccoon Butterflyfish Eat?

Raccoon butterflyfish is an omnivorous fish and it feeds on a variety of food in the wild.

It is a coral-eating fish, and it nips on the soft and hard coral polyps, hydrozoans, sea anemones, benthic worms, and small crustaceans like shrimps. Being omnivorous, they occasionally feed on algae as well.

What Do Guppies Eat? ( Diet Guide)

Raccoon butterflyfish are considered to be the easiest among all other butterflyfish to deal with in an aquarium. That’s why they are not of any problem even for a beginner. Raccoon butterflyfish can learn to eat multiple diet types.

Meaty foods, including live and frozen foods, make up the diet of raccoon butterflyfish in the tank. They also feed on some of the crustaceans. You should provide them Shrimps, worms, crabs, squids, and finely chopped mussels as a part of live food.

Vegetables make up a little portion of their diet, which should be given to them twice a week along with other meaty diets. Pellets are considered to have additional mixed-up important nutritional elements necessary for them to be healthy.

Experienced aquarists propose to make them a part of their diet along with the regular meaty diet. Flake foods are the fish food available in any pet store.

These are combinations of proteins, vitamins, and algal nutritional components are ideal for any omnivorous fish in the tank. The fully grown adults should be fed twice while the juveniles 3 to 4 times a day.

Feeding Threadfin Butterflyfish

Threadfin butterflyfish loves to nip on invertebrates like coral polyps in the wild, making it incompatible with reef tanks. In the wild, it feeds on a large variety of worms, mostly from the phylum Annelida.

They also feed on primitive invertebrates like sea anemones. Occasionally they are found to be eating algae as well.

It is a non-violent fish, but you can not keep it in a reef tank as it loves to nip on the soft corals. In the aquarium, it is an outstanding fish to take care of. It is a quick learner and the best adaptable to the different types of food.

Threadfin butterflyfish need to be fed a balanced and varied diet through multiple small feedings throughout the day. It is not hard for threadfin butterflyfish to accept frozen and dried frozen foods as part of their diet.

But if it refuses the frozen food, keep giving small amounts of frozen food with a bulk portion of live food until it adapts itself to frozen food. Meaty food such as shrimps and worms should be given under a safe amount of fish food.

Over and underfeeding should be avoided with strict measures in the feeding routine of your threadfin butterflyfish. If your tank has no algal growth in it naturally, then you must provide algae-based food to your fish as a part of an herbivorous diet.

Feeding Longnose Butterflyfish

Longnose butterflyfish is a variety of eater that you can find in the regions with coral reefs in profusion. It is omnivorous, but the main part of its diet comes from meaty food. So, we can safely say that the longnose butterflyfish is an omnivorous corallivore species.

Longnose butterflyfish loves to eat invertebrates. Its long beak or snout is of great assistance while nipping on the soft and stony coral polyps. It also preys on other different kinds of small animals, including small crustaceans.

Every fish that you acquire needs good care, especially with the food and the longnose butterflyfish is no exception. When this fish is first acquired, you may have a food rejection problem, and you need to cope with this problem efficiently.

Try to give your fish the live foods first, like live brine shrimp. Once your fish start to respond to the feed, you can transition to frozen and dried frozen foods. Pellet and flake foods are also best but at a balanced minimum rate.

It needs a specific proportion of the herbivorous diet as an omnivorous fish, which you can provide in seaweeds and vegetables like Japanese nori.

The spongy frozen foods are also good to go with the longnose butterflyfish since they are also available in the market. It would be best if you fed the grown fish twice a day, while for juveniles, the small quantities of balanced food three to four times a day is fine.


A butterflyfish is a diverse group of fish that belongs to the family of Chaetodontidae. More or less 129 species of this group have been found to swim in the reefs of tropical waters Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans.

Butterflyfish are optimistic eaters, and they prey on everything in their power. Some butterflyfish species are having the status of corallivores because they make an important group of reef organisms that are obligate eaters of the corals.


What do you feed butterflyfish?

Butterflyfish are optimistic eaters, and you can feed meaty foods to butterflyfish, and they love to eat meaty foods primarily. The foods you can feed to your butterflyfish are zooplanktons, Small crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs, corals, Anemones, Soft Invertebrates, Small Arthropods.

Only a few species, such as raccoon butterflyfish and Merten butterflyfish, are not interested in nipping on the corals.

What do freshwater butterflyfish eat?

The freshwater butterflyfish is commonly an African butterflyfish species. The African butterflyfish is a surface eater and does not eat anything which falls on the bottom.

The African butterflyfish or freshwater butterflyfish chiefly love to eat little crustaceans like brine shrimps, prawns, and crabs, and small larvae, especially mosquito larvae arthropods like live insects, miniature spiders.

Do butterflyfish eat shrimps?

Yes! Butterflyfish love to eat meaty foods, and shrimps are one of the favorites of butterflyfish. Brine shrimps, Mysis shrimps are included in the food list of butterflyfish.

Will copperband butterfly fish eat Aiptasia?

Yes! Copperband butterflyfish and raccoon butterflyfish are the most trusted fishes in the butterflyfish family that can eat aiptasia.

How often should I feed my African butterflyfish?

In the aquarium, the African butterflyfish need to be fed multiple times a day. It is recommended to feed your African butterflyfish fish at least 2 to 3 times a day, and if needed, you can feed them 4 to 5 times a day. But, the expert aquarists recommend it to be 3 to 4 times a day.

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