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    Diversity of Form | Chaetodon declivis, The Marquesan Butterfly

      We’ve now had Luca, our Declivis Butterfly for four months. In this time we’ve learned quite a bit about this beautiful species and their anomalous personality.  The Diver’s Den photo of Luca   You may notice the striking resemblance to other Chaetodontids, such as the Tinker’s Butterfly (Chaetodon tinkeri). They are in fact very similar, as they […]

     

    We’ve now had Luca, our Declivis Butterfly for four months. In this time we’ve learned quite a bit about this beautiful species and their anomalous personality. 

    The Diver’s Den photo of Luca

     LAdeclivis

    You may notice the striking resemblance to other Chaetodontids, such as the Tinker’s Butterfly (Chaetodon tinkeri). They are in fact very similar, as they belong to the same Tinker’s or Roaops complex that include: C. declivis, C. tinkeri, C. burgessi, C. mitratus, and C. flavocoronatus. It is not unheard of for these fish to hybridize together. All of these fish are they are a deepwater and should be provided a temperature of 70-78F. 

    The Declivis Butterfly (Randall, 1975) is a rare fish in the aquarium trade as they have a limited distribution nearby the Christmas, Line, and Marquesan Islands. This combined with the deepwater habitat in which they live, creates a high pricetag for hobbyists. The most difficult part about caring for this fish, is the initial purchase and wallet pains; they adapt very well to captive life thereafter. 

     Luca0

    In the wild the Declivis Butterfly feeds on a variety of foods including coral polyps, tube worms, and algae. Because of this, they readily accept most prepared foods in a captive setting. Ours has a particular affinity for large meaty foods and algae, but will attempt to eat anything it can fit in his mouth. He receives a 3×4″ Nori sheet as well as Mysis, Cyclopeeze, Frozen Seafood Blends, Brine, and Pellets 4-6 times a day.

    It is not uncommon for these fish to eat within 24 hours of being added to a new system. Ours ate within 5 minutes.

    Luca Flared 

    With most Chaetodontids in the reef, there is the risk or coral damage. C. declivis is no exception. Early on he wiped out most of our Zoanthids, including some prized Tub’s Blues. This is the cost of such a beautiful fish. Occasionally we do see him nipping at SPS polyps, but it does not cause damage. Most of the time he picks at slime, and does not touch the actual polyp. 

    By keeping him well fed and providing entertainment via other fish and Nori, our corals remain unharmed. Like with many Angels, boredom and hunger are the two things that must be overcome with this constantly curious fish.

    An ideal system  would be:

    •  100+ gallons
    • 76-78F (Do not exceed 80F)
    • Fish only with LR or SPS Reef
    • Large Skimmer to handle 4+ feedings a day
    • Plenty of dither fish (Anthias, Chromis, Cardinals)
    • 2-3 larger fish for social interaction (Butterflies, Angels, Tangs)

    Declivis Butterflies, have a personality that is quite difficult to describe. The closest I can compare is to the personable Puffer fish family; puppy like, intelligent, funny, and always wanting attention. Luca can make it quite difficult to take photos of our aquarium.

     luca in the way

    These fish also seem to lack what one would think is an important survival trait–fear. I have heard stories of these fish swimming right up to divers to “see what’s going on”. Ours is no different. No matter what we are doing in the tank or outside of the tank, Luca is as close to possible.

    luca hand 2

    We hope to have our Declivis Butterfly for many years to come. He is by far the most personable fish I have ever personally kept, or had experience with. If you have the proper system and opportunity to purchase one, we highly encourage it. 

     luca beg

     

     

     

    11 Comments

    1. July 30, 2008 at 12:32 AM | Permalink

      Very “incredible” fish!

      It’s amazing!

      Danilo

    2. July 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

      great profile on this fish.

      Luca is great, I love the ‘spikey hair’ look they get when the dorsal is expanded like that photo

    3. jack
      July 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

      My LFS got a 6 inch in last week. I went back to purchase it, but it had already sold. I’ll be keeping my eye out for others.

    4. July 30, 2008 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

      People often think that most Butterflies annhiliate your zoanthid population… This is a great specimen. Have you thought of having a second one to be paired up? I know most if not all Butterflies require to be paired up for long term success.

    5. Felix
      July 30, 2008 at 8:39 PM | Permalink

      I’m Jealous!

      🙂 good to hear good things once again!

      Felix-

    6. July 30, 2008 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

      Vlad,

      It is true many Chaetodontids do have a taste for Zoa’s, but some leave them completely alone. Because of their natural diets and personalities, it varies not only from species to species but fish to fish.

      In the wild the Tinkeri complex are found singly or in pairs, but usually only form pairs when breeding. In captivity they are tolerant of each other and can do well singly, pairs, trios, etc. With that said, groups or pairs are not needed for long term success.

      We do plan on adding another fish from the complex, but not the same exact species. Hopefully it will be a hybrid? We’ll see how our Declivis will interact with it when added 😉

    7. July 30, 2008 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

      Hey Felix,

      😀 Thanks.

    8. JS
      August 4, 2008 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

      A beautiful fish. The spikey dorsal is great on yours.

    9. Richie
      October 21, 2008 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

      I’m in the process of setting up a reef tank and this is now one of the fish I really want at some point. It won’t be for awhile, but I really like the yellow on white and the interesting spikey view.

      Here’s the only link a quick goole search found with a price ($299)
      http://www.marinecenter.com/fish/butterflyfish/declevisbutterfly/

    10. lance
      November 30, 2008 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

      they are beautiful fish, im actually designing my new reef tank around having one of these

      thanks for sharing

    11. Bema72
      November 19, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

      I bought a C. Declivis few weeks ago. I’m really happy about the fish, is really lovely and shows most of the chatacteristics you told about.

    4 Trackbacks

    1. […] I am starting to get the hang of it. Here’s a partially completed vector image I made of our C. declivis. A friend has asked for a large print and we’ve […]

    2. […] didn’t have 1, but 3 Tinker’s Butterflies and 1 Declivis Butterfly. They also had Racoons, Aurigas, Emperor Angels and Annularis Angels. Watching these larger fish […]

    3. […] de banco (Prognathodes aya) is a deep water Western Atlantic Butterflyfish that we rarely see. Despite being close to our own turf often times these beautiful fish head to […]

    4. […] Roa subgenus is a favorite of mine. These deepwater butterflies adapt well to captive conditions and generally eat immediately after […]

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