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WhyReef - LifestyleLongnose butterflyfish can usually be found swimming alone or in small groups of up to five fish. Once an adult butterflyfish finds its mate it pairs up for life. When it is time to have babies, butterflyfish gather in large groups, and their eggs are carried away by the ocean current, floating near the surface before they hatch. The new hatchlings live in a layer of plankton for about 2 months, during which time they are almost as well-protected as their parents, with a spiky armor covering their bodies. When they are big enough, they swim by night to a reef, where they will live for the rest of their lives.