Common Name: African Butterfly Fish
Scientific Name: Pantodon buchholzi
Other Names: Freshwater Butterfly Fish
The African Butterfly Fish has a unique appearance, reminiscent of a dead leaf. Its pectoral fins are large, spread out, and wing-like, which makes the fish resemble a butterfly. The body is flat with an upward-pointing mouth adapted for surface feeding. Its coloration is generally brown to olive-green on the top and paler underneath, often adorned with speckles.
Habitat and Distribution:
This species is native to West and Central Africa, especially in the Congo River Basin and the Niger River. They inhabit slow-moving or stagnant waters, particularly swamps, marshes, and the calm areas of rivers, often with thick vegetation.
Size and Lifespan:
In captivity, they typically grow up to 4 inches in length. With good care, these fish can live for 5-10 years.
Diet and Behavior:
African Butterfly Fish are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects. They love hunting surface-dwelling prey, like mosquitoes and other small insects. In an aquarium, they can eat floating pellets, live or frozen brine shrimp, and small crickets. They’re ambush predators, often staying still and striking quickly when prey is nearby.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding in captivity can be challenging. The female scatters her eggs on the water’s surface, and the male fertilizes them. After hatching, the fry will need infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp as their initial food.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
A 30-gallon tank or larger is suitable for a pair. Given their surface-feeding habits, a long, shallow tank is ideal. They need calm water with minimal current and plenty of floating plants to mimic their natural environment. The tank should have a secure lid, as they can jump.
Ideal Tank Mates:
They are relatively peaceful but may eat smaller fish or shrimp. Suitable tank mates include Congo tetras, angelfish, and medium-sized catfish. Avoid fin-nipping species.
Intermediate. While not overly demanding, their unique feeding habits and surface-dwelling nature require some special considerations.
• Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
• pH: 6.0-7.5
• General Hardness (GH): 5-12 dGH
• Carbonate Hardness (KH): 3-10 dKH
• Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Close to 0 ppm. Regular water changes are crucial.
• African Butterfly Fish have been in the aquarium trade for a long time and are favorites due to their unique appearance.
• They can be skittish and might take some time to adjust to a new environment. It’s essential to provide them with plenty of hiding spots.
• Their eyes are particularly sensitive to bright light, so dimmed lighting or using floating plants to diffuse the light is recommended.
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