Updated August 6, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Longfin Bannerfish can be a good choice given the proper aquarium setup. The Heniochus species are often lumped in with the Buttefly fishes but the Heniochus species are usually much easier to care for than most of the butterfly species. We too have grouped them in with the butterfly species for convenience.
The Longfin Bannerfish is also known as the "Poor Man's Moorish Idol" since it sort of resembles the Moorish Idol but the bannerfish is better suited to aquarium life. They are striped white and black with yellow dorsal and caudal fins along with the signature long white banner fin that can extend out past the caudal fin (tail fin). The body shape of this fish reminds us a little of the freshwater angelfish.
The Heniochus acuminatus and the Heniochus diphreutes are extremely similar looking and it can be difficult to determine the difference in adolescents. They H. diphreutes has more of a stub mouth and a more rounded anal fin. In the H. acuminatus the anal fin forms more of an angle at the tip.
It is possible to keep multiple Longfin Bannerfish in the same tank. In the ocean they form small schools and pairs. They do need a larger tank when keeping multiples given their adult size and their need for adequate swimming space. They are quite passive and rarely bother tank mates. They may get bullied by larger fish species such as tangs and triggers.
Assuming that you've picked out a good specimen with no visible signs of illness or disease, Longfin Bannerfish should easily acclimate to your tank. They are not at all picky (usually) about the foods they are given and should eat most fish foods presented to them. Get and use a good flake food and supplement with fresh and frozen foods. If you do get one that is finicky, try the frozen brine shrimp cubes (thawed first) and slowly get them on flakes. The live rock in your tank can provide places of shelter and can also be a food source that they may pick at in between meals.
It is reported that H. acuminatus should not be considered reef safe whereas the H. diphreutes is reef safe (S. Michael 2001).
Longfin Bannerfish Care
Scientific Name : Heniochus acuminatus
Common Names : Black and White Butterflyfish, Poor Man's Moorish Idol, Bannerfish, Pennant Coralfish, Wimple fish
Care Level : Easy
Size : Up to 10 inches (25 cm)
Life span : 5 years or longer
pH : 8.2 - 8.4
Temperature : 75°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)
Specific Gravity : 1.021 - 1.025
Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°
Origin / Habitat : Indo-Pacific, North and South Japan, Micronesia, sticks close to the reef slope and often seen in lagoons. They have even been found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Temperament / Behavior : This bannerfish is very peaceful with other fish species, but may pick at reef invertebrates.
Breeding : Very difficult to breed in captivity. They do form pairs.
Aquarium Size : 100 gallon (379 liters) minimum given that they like to school and need lots of swimming room.
Tank Mates : Since this species is fairly passive, you'll want to stock them similar minded fish species. You may have issues if you plan on keeping them with other butterfly fish and they should be kept out of saltwater reef tanks. May nip at soft corals and smaller invertebrates. May get bullied by tangs.
Fish Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment. Relatively hardy but can still contract marine ich (cryptocaryon) and Amyloodinium.
Diet / Foods : Longfin Bannerfish mostly eat zooplankton in the ocean, but will and should go after most foods offered. Try to feed them a varied diet of fresh meaty foods, frozen foods (thawed first) and a good quality and balanced flake food. They may also pick at algae growing on tank surfaces and live rock.
Tank Region : All over, but usually the middle to the top regions of the aquarium.
Gender : No externally distinguishing characteristics to determine the differences between males and females.
Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk
Fenner, R. M. (2001). The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists. (3rd Printing). T.F.H. Publications.
Michael, S. W. (2001). Marine Fishes, 500+ Essential to Know Aquarium Species. T.F.H. Publications.
Nilsen, A. J., Fossa, S. A. (2002). Reef Secrets, Starting Right, Selecting Fishes and Invertebrates and Advanced Biotope Techniques. T.F.H. Publications.
Longfin Bannerfish Tips and Comments
I have two longfin bannerfish in my saltwater aquarium with a yellow tang. The yellow tang showed them who was the boss of the tank right away. The yellow tang chased them for the first few hours but that activity soon diminished. After the first day everyone was pals. These fish do seem very hardy. They were picking at the rock about 5 minutes after they hit the water (after a 30 minute acclimation) and were eating ocean nutrition flakes right away. My two stay out in the open constantly, they never hide and the are very pretty. Thanks.