Not your average African cichlid
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buttikoferi came from West
Africa originally -- mainly Liberia. All bred locally now. One
spawn will supply an entire city. We’ve never bred them ourselves or
known anyone that wanted to. We found one store in Kansas City retailing them for $2. They dropped it to $1 when we took them all. They cost
more than that these days.
Temperament. We have one of these guys we’ve sold six times. Why? Let’s just say they’re not good mixers. Buttikoferi over six inches long do not play well with others -- unless you keep them in very large tanks (much bigger than 55 gallons).
Size. We’ve seen several sources (German, French, and Italian) all saying 10 inches. Don’t be real surprised if your buttikoferi grows over a foot long.
Hole in the Head Disease. Not really a disease specific to buttikoferis, hexamita attacks most cichlids. You see it on lots of older cichlids -- especially oscars. It kills discus and probably other weaker species. Treat it with metranidozol. Changing the water more often helps prevent it. The treatment will not clear up the scars. We just ignore the disease other than changing their water often.
Planting. Don’t expect them to let live plants continue living. They even eat duckweed. Duckweed makes a very good fish food -- high in fats and proteins. However, if you want a planted aquarium, use plastic plants -- weighted plastic plants.
Gravel. Over darker gravels, they turn blacker. Buttikoferis pick up all their gravel and throw it against the front glass. This means that under gravel filters need to be constantly monitored.
Foods. They do like to eat. They eat anything that other cichlids eat. Give them a variety. Healthier buttikoferis have yellower bars. Stresses or poor foods will make their bars whiter.
Next two paragraphs have nothing to do with Buttikoferi.
Eating Tilapia. If you buy tilapia to eat, it will not be a buttikoferi. They kill each other. Since 1995, tilapia have outsold trout as a people food. We raise them here in Iowa as well as the Philippines, Brasil, Peru, Taiwan, and so forth. You can find tilapia fresh, smoked, or as sashimi (from Taiwan). Sashimi is the raw fish most people think of when they hear the word sushi. The pix we’ve seen of stripping the eggs looks like they raise the strawberry variant of T. mossambic (a mouthbrooder). Commercial tilapia farmers feed their farm fish tilapia foods made specifically for them. You won’t find these 50 pound bags at Aqualand.
Breeding. Haven’t seen Buttikoferis breed ourselves. But if you put a male and a female Buttikoferi together in a LARGE tank, they can obviously figure it out. Provide cover for the female. We’ll put four in a 55 and let them sort it out themselves. We’ll add the results later. (Results: We’re down to two Buttikoferis.)
Big Guys Win. Little guys lose -- their scales, their fins, their lives. Little guys try to give up to no avail. Unless you provide a large tank. or separate them, one will kill the other -- as the pix below show.
Spawning Behavior? Lotsa cichlids start out their breeding displays in exactly the same way as above. They add some tail slapping, lip locking, and pit digging. But you need to separate them if trouble develops.
Mixers? They mix well when small. They’re even a little on the Dr. Jeckyl side. Once they hit three inches, they turn into Mr. Hyde. Now they need lots of room or their own tank.
Final Word. Enjoy your Buttikoferis. Remember to change their water often. You’ll see fewer problems if you keep their water clean. And be aware that they get mean. Think thrice before adding one of these cuties to your collection. We included the tilapia fish farming info to get you in the mood to try snacking on these guys instead of trading them back in to Aqualand. LA.
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