The eclipse or Bennett’s butterfly (Chaetodon bennetti, Cuvier 1831) is a beautiful, bold fish that is fairly rare in the marine aquarium trade. Though it has a widespread distribution throughout the Indo Pacific, its finicky eating habits have given it a bad reputation. In the wild, the Bennett’s butterfly inhabits coral reefs and lagoons and spends its days eating coral polyps almost exclusively. When raised in captivity at our Sustainable Islands project, however, these fish learn to readily accept prepared foods such as our hatchery diet, cyclopeeze, and spirulina brine. We keep these fish for several months as they grow from their post larval stage to several inches in length, all the while keeping them well-fed and acclimated to aquarium life. While these fish eat prepared foods, they should not be placed into a reef system, as they will nip at coral polyps. A peaceful fish-only system will suit them perfectly.
Physical Description: The Bennett’s butterfly is a beautiful bright yellow. They have a black bar outlined in bright blue that runs vertically down their face, intersecting their eye. A black circle, also outlined in blue, is found on their upper body while two brilliant blue lines curve across their lower body.
Temperament: This is a peaceful fish that will do well with non-aggressive tankmates. Though these fish can be kept in large groups as juveniles, they will become territorial as they grow and should be kept individually in captivity. Also avoid tankmates that have a very similar body shape or coloration.
Size: The Bennett’s butterfly grows to about 6 inches in length. It is an active, free swimming fish and should be kept in an aquarium of at least 55 gallons or larger.
Distribution: This butterfly has an extensive range from the western coast of Africa through the Indo Pacific as far west as the Pitcairn Islands, which is a small group of islands off the coast of Chile!