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African Butterfly Fish – Pantodon Buchholzi


Common name: African Butterfly Fish

Scientific name: Pantodon Buchholzi

Average Adult Fish Size: 4 inches / 10 cm

Place of Origin: African Rift Valley Lakes

Typical Tank setup: The ideal set-up for the African Butterfly is an aquarium of at least 30 gallons with plenty of plants that reach near the surface that this fish can use for cover. They can handle a wide range of temperatures up into the mid 80’s. These fish can jump out of the water, and can even glide short distances. It is therefore very important to have a tight fitting top on the aquarium to stop the fish from jumping out.

Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: 30 gallon / 120 litre

Compatibility: They can be relatively peaceful if kept with similar sized and larger tank mates. Avoid keeping them with smaller top dwelling fish.

Temperature: 75 – 86 Deg F  /  24 – 30 Deg C

Water chemistry: pH 6.9 – 7.1

Feeding: The African Butterfly fish is carnivorous so must have a variety of flake and pellets with live foods occasionally. Feed the African Butterfly a steady diet of small fish, brine shrimp, insects and suitable freeze-dried foods.

Sexing: To determine the sex of the African Butterfly Fish you have to look at the anal fin. The females anal fin is straight. But on the male one of the ray’s on the anal fin is much longer than the rest.

Breeding: In order to breed the African Butterfly, lower the water in the aquarium to just a few inches for a few weeks. When refilling the aquarium, use soft acidic water. The male will then climb on top of the female at the water’s surface. After about a day, the eggs will turn dark and will float to the surface. Remove these eggs to a separate aquarium with similar water conditions. The eggs will hatch in approximately two days and the fry demand the smallest live foods, such as baby brine shrimp and daphnia.

Additional Information: The African Butterfly Fish is common to many lakes across Africa and is an interesting fish. It spends most of its time hanging at the surface of the water, waiting for prey. The body is dark brown to black and is speckled with lighter colourations. The fins resemble the wings of a bird, giving this fish a look like no other. It does remain relatively small, but caution needs to be exercised, as this fish will swallow anything it can fit into its mouth.

The African Butterfly fish is a really odd looking fish and can make an interesting addition to the right tank. When viewed from above the African Butterfly fish’s pectoral fins resemble butterfly wings. They come from slow flowing rivers in Africa so it would be good to put them in a tank with slower water movement. African Butterfly Fish seem to float much of the time, so if you’re looking for a really active fish this may not be the one for you. They are predatory and will eat smaller surface dwelling fish.