The Seychelles Butterflyfish, Chaetodon madagaskariensis is also known as the Indian Ocean Chevron Butterflyfish, Madagascar Butterflyfish and Pearly Butterflyfish. They are fairly rare on the East African coast but seem more common in certain areas.
The body of the Seychelles butterflyfish is oval with a pointed nose. The front two thirds of the body is a white pearly colour and there are a series of chevrons on the mid section and there is a triangular black mark across the forehead and a bar through each eye. The rear section of the body and the rear dorsal and anal fins are yellow in the juveniles and more orange in adults. There is a black crown spot above the eye which is ringed in white and there is a vertical black line through the eye.
There is a pronounced thin black line on the rear of the dorsal and anal fins bordered by a thicker white line and the mid section of the caudal fin is yellow. They have a pointed snout with sharp, narrow teeth and grow to between 8-12 cm in length. It is impossible to sex them from their looks.
IN THE WILD
Adult Seychelles Butterflyfish are more often than seen singularly on the coast of mainland Tanzania, they seem to prefer reef tops from 10 to 18 meters with a large amount of coral growth on them. They are shy fish and are hard to approach closely. When they sight a diver they usually move off.
The Seychelles Butterflyfish are found across the Indian Ocean from the African coast including Madagascar across to the Christmas Islands including all the islands in-between. They are found from depths of 10 meters down to 70 meters.
Seychelles Butterflyfish are omnivores and feed mainly on small benthic organisms and algae. They browse the reef sides and tops.
Seychelles butterflyfish do not seem to form monogamous pairs as many other species of Butterflyfish do and only seem to form pairs when breeding is taking place. The female swells with eggs and spawning takes place by scattering into the water table with the male fertilizing the eggs.
Spawning is thought to take place in relation to the lunar cycles but this is not certain. The eggs are spherical and buoyant and it is thought they hatch in 28 to 30 hours. Once the eggs hatch a bony plate forms over the head area and the larvae called tholichthys, are pelagic for quite some time. They slowly develop into juveniles. This phase makes it extremely difficult to breed them in aquariums.
They are not reef safe and will nip on soft and hard corals. If they are being kept with other butterflyfish they should ideally be introduced to a tank simultaneously. They will readily accept most prepared foods. A tank should include hiding places and overhangs and should be fairly large as they enjoy swimming in the open. Well developed algal growth in the tank will take the pressure off feeding them initially.
Allen, Gerald R. 1979. Butterfly and Angelfishes of the World. Vol. 2. Aquarium Systems, OH. 203 pp.
Burgess, Warren E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the World; A Monograph of the Family Chaetodontidae. T.F.H. Publications, NJ.832 pp.
The Reef Guide: Southern Africa’s East and South Coasts
Dennis King and Valda Fraser
The butterflyfishes: success on the coral reef
edited by Philip J. Motta