Butterfly Fish

Warr7207

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I have been researching Butterfly fish and majority of them have they strange or even unknown diets.

The question I have is there is a large amount of butterflies that have a diet that is primary small coral polyps.

Now, how does this grazing effect a coral? A coral has almost no defence and it cannot move and it's growth is very slow. How do these corals survive in the wild with fish like this around ?
 

Mathewis

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I wonder as well, but I hate those buggers(even tho they are very nice looking fish). I tried one when I was still very uninformed, It cost me to remove all my LR from my tank to catch it.
 

Mike

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In the wild there are hundreds, if not thousands of corals, the butterfly fish will graze on many of them and so the damage is limited to the odd nip, in our tanks the corals are fewer so they take more hits so the damage is sometimes fatal.
 

Matt

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Warr: I believe its like anything in nature. If the size of the SPS colony is large enough perhaps the fish which like munching on SPS don't do enough to make a negative impact on the coral population.

Similar to Robin's tank, a few of his angels like to munch on polyps, but with the amount of coral he has and the healthy growth he see's he doesn't mind because it doesn't negatively impact his tank ;)

Homeostasis... :p Thats my opinion anyway
 

Warr7207

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But there also millions of Butterflies in the wild and some take over 3000 bites in a 24 hour period and need 500 bites to fill it's gut.

With this sort of consumption how can the coral sustain this, when you consider a typical section of a reef would be say 5 km of reef with in the region of 10,000 corals and butterflies anywhere from 1000 to 10000 units. That is a minium of 3 million bites a day.

It just seems the corals would not be able to handle this bombardment, unless corals are not adversely effected, like cows eating grass.
 

Mike

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But there also millions of Butterflies in the wild and some take over 3000 bites in a 24 hour period and need 500 bites to fill it's gut.

With this sort of consumption how can the coral sustain this, when you consider a typical section of a reef would be say 5 km of reef with in the region of 10,000 corals and butterflies anywhere from 1000 to 10000 units. That is a minium of 3 million bites a day.

It just seems the corals would not be able to handle this bombardment, unless corals are not adversely effected, like cows eating grass.
Out of interest, where did you get these figures?

I still think that in the natural environment, the corals will only take minimal damage compared to our tanks.
 

Warr7207

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Out of interest, where did you get these figures?

I still think that in the natural environment, the corals will only take minimal damage compared to our tanks.
From one of Scott Michael's books
 

Warr7207

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So what does he say on the issue?
It is exactly what he is asking. How come swarms of butterflies can attack coral reefs and the corals never die or show any distress what so ever.

Why does it happen in our tanks, obliviously size is and issue.

But apparently corals get totally ripped apart and the following day they are showing PE, and the butterflies return and feed again.

Just a strange one.
 

Lowflyer

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Do you guys not think that fish like the TERITORIAL damsel species would protect their little piece of reef from other fish, and in consequence protecting some of the corals within their area? Just a thought.
 

Matt

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Warr: whenever I go scuba diving the ratio of coral to fish occupying it is FAR greater than we see in the hobby aquarium. Literally HUGE reef space for the occupants.

I've seen many angels and butterflies in the ocean but never locust like swarms destroying the reef ;)
 

Warr7207

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Warr: whenever I go scuba diving the ratio of coral to fish occupying it is FAR greater than we see in the hobby aquarium. Literally HUGE reef space for the occupants.

I've seen many angels and butterflies in the ocean but never locust like swarms destroying the reef ;)
Should check out the red sea, insane amounts
 

Warr7207

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Warr: whenever I go scuba diving the ratio of coral to fish occupying it is FAR greater than we see in the hobby aquarium. Literally HUGE reef space for the occupants.

I've seen many angels and butterflies in the ocean but never locust like swarms destroying the reef ;)
Give me some estimates, each coral you see has 200 polyps, and you see 100 coral, that is 20000 polyps, it would take 40 butterflies to eat every polyp to fill their gut.

Still seems like there is something else the coral has as they would be totally wiped out.

Also butterflies will stay where food is readily available, so constantly moving kilometres in a day makes no sense when you have 20000 polyps right there
 

irie ivan

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Dont estimate, go count the polyps.

Iteresting topic....its been a while........
each coral you see has 200 polyps
A vast underestimate. Each coral has thousands to millions of polyps. Do not think size in terms of the corals in your tank, they are merely frags in comparison to the ones on a real reef. And when a scchool of butterflies swoop down on a head of acropora, after the first few nips, you think the rest of the polyps on the colony gonna stand out there and take it........ Touch a coral, watch the polypps retract.... (and ur just touching......) And you think the fish finding refuge inbetween the coral branches are just gonna stand there and take it....? Most agression I have seen in fish was damsels living in acropora heads attacking schools of butterflies and pairs of longnose filefish nipping on their "homes". (Hey man, they even attacked me for just rying to touch the polyps.)

And if schools of butterlies are to stay in the same spot, you think they dont become easy prey.... They gotta move on....... gives the coral time to recover, gives the damaged polyps time to heal...... its nature dude, its very simple.....

And yes mekaeel, coral do reproduce more often in nature than in our tanks, whether they grow faster is debatable, but rerpoduce, yes definitely more often.

And there are quite a few butterfly species which feed almost exclusively on acropora polyps. Immidiately two of my fav fish pop to mind: Chaetodon meyeri http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/summary/speciessummary.php?genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=lunulatus & Chaetodon lunulatus

irie
 

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