Hemitaurichthys polylepis

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See Talk:Hemitaurichthys polylepis for individual experiences with this species, Hemitaurichthys polylepis. Feel free to add your own personal experiences.

Common Name
Pyramid Butterflyfish
Binomial Name
Hemitaurichthys polylepis
Hemitaurichthys polylepis 1 .JPG
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Chaetodontidae
Genus: Hemitaurichthys
Species: polylepis

Common Names

  • Pyramid Butterflyfish
  • Yellow Pyramid Butterfly



This hardy fish gets its name from a large white, roughly triangular, marking, which is contrasted against a bright yellow background. Face darkens with increasing maturity. Unlike others in this family, they are true planktivores which makes them well suited to reef tanks.

Similar Species

H. zoster is the Indian Ocean counterpart, and has a muted black brown that replaces the yellow markings on H. Polylepsis.

Maximum Size

18cm wild[1].

Associated Organisms



This open water swimmer is a passive planktivore that shoals in the wild to feed on currents of zooplankton. For this reason multiple small feedings are preferable, and aggressive tankmates should be avoided.

Captive Care

Tank Size

Optimum tank size will depend on many variables. However, 4 x 2 x 2 is a good minimum, since the fish grows large and ideally should be kept in small groups.

Water Flow





Small frequent meals are preferred and assorted frozen food should be offered at least twice daily. Live brine shrimp and blackworms may help if the fish is initially reluctant to eat.

Growth Rate

How quickly it will grow under various conditions.


Though hardy once acclimated this is still a butterfly and is vulnerable to ectoparasites, gill flukes and bacterial infections.


Addition things / items that are important for care in captivity.




May not be compatible with H. zoster in smaller aquariums [2] and may be territorial with smaller butterflys. Ideally the fish should be placed in the display before tangs and other bold feeders. Aggressive feeders may intimidate the fish.


Coral safe.


Reef safe.


How it reproduces, how suitable it is to breeding or captive propagation, techniques on how to etc.

Local Ecology


Pacific Ocean, east to the Pitcairne Islands, north to Japan and the Hawaiian Islands and south to New Caledonia[3]


Found shoaling several meters above reefs on outer reef slopes[1],waiting for currents to bring zooplankton.

Additional Information

Some additional notes on it that don't fit in the above sections.



  1. 1.0 1.1 (http://www.fishbase.org): Froese, R., Pauly, D. Fish Base, World Wide Web electronic publication, 2008, Retrieved: 26 January 2011.
  2. (http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/reefs-magazine/78104-reef-safe-butterflyfishes-matt-wandell.html): Wandell, M., Reef Safe Butterflyfishes?, Reefs Magazine, 2010.
  3. (Michael 2004): Michael, S., Angelfishes and Butterflyfishes: Reef Fishes Series, book 3, TFH-Microcosm: Neptune City, 2004.