A Butterflyfish in a reef tank? Surely you jest. You see them all the time in videos and photos of natural reefs but fish in this family are typically housed in fish only with live rock (FOWLR) tanks due to their propensity to nip at corals.


However, there are a few exceptions, including the Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish. This fish feeds on zooplankton and is usually found feeding high in the water column above coral heads in its natural ecosystem, making it a “reef safe” edition to a tank housing SPS and LPS corals.

A Triangle of White

The pyramid of white on its body meshes beautifully with its yellow fins and black/brown head to give it a unique look. I have been a fan of these fish for a while and have kept harems successfully in my SPS dominated reef tanks. They are very shy and skittish so it is a good idea to give them plenty of hiding spots to help acclimate them to a tank. Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish do wear their emotions on their sleeve as the body of this fish will darken and sometimes sport a white dot when they are stressed (this coloration can also occur when the lights are out). Once they get used to their digs they will cruise back and forth in the open water, mixing nicely with other open water dwellers such as Anthias.


Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish


This moderately hardy fish should be kept in tanks with at least 125 gallons of water and be fed a diet of frozen foods such as mysis and brine shrimp as well freeze-dried foods containing algae. Frequent feedings are recommended to keep them from picking at corals to satisfy any hunger pains.


So the next time you are considering a new fish addition think hard about a Yellow Pyramid Butterflyfish. They are a colorful and safe addition to any large reef tank.


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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. Additionally, you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!