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Quick Oman Butterflyfish Care Guide

Written by CoralRealm Staff

The Oman Butterflyfish, Chaetodon dialeucos, is a member of the large and diverse Chaetodon genus, of the butterflyfish family Chaetodontidae. They are a rare species, only being found in one area of the world, so rarely make their way into the aquarium trade.

In this Oman Butterflyfish care guide, we will give a description of this fascinating species, before guiding you in how to successfully keep it in an aquarium.

Oman Butterflyfish Care Summary
Care LevelIntermediate 
FamilyChaetodontidae 
TemperamentPeaceful 
DietOmnivore 
OriginNorth Western Indian Ocean
Minimum Tank Size125 gallons 
ColorGrey, black and white
SizeUp to 7 inches 
Reef Compatible?No 
Temperature72℉ – 82℉ (22℃ – 28℃)
Specific Gravity1.020 – 1.026
pH Range8.0 – 8.5

Description

Oman butterflyfish, Chaetodon dialeucos, is an uncommon saltwater species found in the Gulf of Aden and Southern Oman. There are around 114 species of saltwater butterfly fish recorded in the world, but only a small amount of them are able to be kept in captive aquariums. The oman butterflyfish is one that can be kept in captivity, however they can be a difficult species to house and we recommend that only advanced and knowledgeable aquarists keep these fish.  

Oman butterflyfish are rarely seen in a home aquarium, most saltwater fish keepers prefer to have their fish in large community reef tanks, however these fish are not reef compatible due to their eating habits.

They have a grey body with brown outlines on their scales, they have a white patch around the back of their head, a black stripe over their eyes, a white mouth and a black tail. Even though their coloring isn’t vibrant, they do have a beautiful pattern. 

Distribution

The oman butterflyfish is found in the Northwestern Indian Ocean, and in the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Oman and Gulf of Aden. These fish do not travel far down into the water and stay at depths of 15 – 85 feet (5 – 25m), they inhabit reefs where they can nibble on coral and forage for invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans. 

Behavior and Tank Setup

Oman butterfly fish are active swimmers in the wild and will make their way around the coral reefs searching for food; when kept in captivity, they need to be kept in an aquarium of 125 gallons at a minimum, as they can grow up to 7 inches and they need space to roam and forage. These fish are best not to be kept in reef aquariums as they will spend a lot of time nibbling on the coral polyps, they can be kept in rock aquariums with lots of hiding spaces. Make sure that you are expanding the size of the tank each time other fish are added, a community aquarium housing medium – large fish should be no less than 200 gallons. 

The best plants to put in with these fish are ones that are bottom growers and will spread over the tank and over the rocks, allowing the fish to forage through the rocks and foliage. Oman butterfly fish are best kept in fish-only tanks without any invertebrates as they will see them as food, give them hiding spots, open space and areas of algae growth. 

Diet

Oman butterflyfish are omnivores that love to forage in the wild for small invertebrates like shrimp and worms, they also eat coral polyps, sea anemones and crustaceans. They will then consume algae and small pieces of plant debris to gain other nutrients. In captivity, this diet can be replicated by giving them live and frozen foods, along with algae flakes or wafers. The meaty part of their diet can be given through brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, black worms, and plankton, meaty foods can be given live or frozen, however live foods are always preferred. To make sure the butterflyfish are getting their plant foods, you can give them algae wafers and flake food, foods that contain spirulina are a good choice. 

When this fish is first placed into an aquarium, they will likely be uninterested in food for the first week or so. To start their feeding regime, adding a couple of live shrimp are a great way to introduce food into the aquarium as the shrimp will climb onto the rocks where the fish will be foraging. Once the fish is eating well, frozen foods can be offered if that is your preferred method, however a mixture of both live and frozen foods is recommended to prevent them having the same foods everyday. 

They can be fed a few times a day in small portions, some butterflyfish can be picky with their food if they are relatively new in the aquarium, so hiding frozen food around the aquarium in crevices can be a good way to encourage their foraging behavior. 

Oman Butterflyfish Tank Mates

Oman butterflyfish are a peaceful species that like to swim in open water and forage for food, they rarely bother other fish and are not aggressive. Due to their calm temperament, they should not be housed with any large aggressive fish, as this will just cause unnecessary stress. These fish will be perfect in a large, rocky, peaceful community aquarium with a few other calm species of fish. 

Compatible tank mates behavior wise also need to be compatible with the water parameters, different species with completely different water parameters cannot be housed together, as either one or all will become ill and possibly die from the incorrect conditions. Make sure the other species can be put in an aquarium with a temperature of between 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit, a specific gravity of 1.020 – 1.026, carbonate hardness of 8-12 dKH, and a pH of 8.0 – 8.5.

Avoid adding invertebrates (apart from feeder animals) into the tank as they will be seen as food and will get eaten in no time. Oman butterflyfish should also not be housed with any other fish from the same genus as them, or any other butterflyfish. 

If you wish to keep this fish with other species in a community tank, ensure they are housed in a much larger aquarium to avoid stress or any confrontation. 

Conclusion

The oman butterflyfish is uncommon in home aquariums and is rarely even seen in an aquatic enthusiast’s collection. Their white, grey and black colorings would make a beautiful statement in a large display aquarium, amongst other colorful species, they would stand out. 

These fish need a lot of feeding and care to bring joy to the keeper in the long run, so these fish are definitely more suited to advanced fish keepers, particularly those experienced in keeping saltwater species. 

Featured Image Credit: Albertini Maridom (https://inaturalist.nz/)

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CoralRealm Staff

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