Your New African Butterflyfish  

Inside scoop from Aqualand on Pantodon buchholtzi       

 
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African Butterfly Factoids

Origin

Africa -- Nigeria, Zaire, Cameroon

Sex Difference

Male anal fin longer

Maximum Size

5” but 4” more likely

Breeding Age

Not sure.  Probably about a year.

Breeding Comment Provide floating cover plants

Attitude

Loafs at top all day

Cover Carefully Can jump like a bullet 

Foods

Floating foods

Water

Flexible as long as it’s clean



LA
Where'd they get the name "butterflyfish?"

Origin.  As the name implies, these guys come from Africa -- Nigeria, Zaire, and the Cameroon (All with excellent soccer teams, coincidence?  The jury is still out).  In spite of the name, we saw one source on the web that says the African butterflyfish comes from South America.  Well, they are close but not quite the same continent.  

LA Pic
African Butterflyfish -- female

LA
African Butterflyfish -- male.  Anal fin skinnier and longer.

LA
Female butterflyfish -- shorter anal fin

LA
Male butterflyfish -- longer anal fin

 

Breeding.  Nobody breeds Pantodon buchholtzis around here, but it does not sound that hard.  Betcha you could do it in a thirty with floating watersprite.  The Italians say “molto difficile but we doubt that.  First you need a male and a female butterflyfish.  Condition (fatten) them in separate tanks.  Many references say they don’t get along together very well.  So separate yours.  They mix well with most other community fishes.  You sex them by the difference in their anal fins.  Put your male and female together once they plump up, then raise the water level and the temp about five degrees.  The pair can probably figure it out from there.  Remove them after they spawn.  It would likely help to lower the water at this time.  Use sponge filtration.

LA
Looks like a nice egg-filled female butterflyfish.

Feeding the Fry.  Adult butterflyfish and their babies spend 99% of their time at the surface.  Start the larvae on live newly hatched brine shrimp.  Put a light bulb at one end to attract the phototropic shrimp to the surface.  Add large snails to keep their tank clean.

LA
Subtle differences exist in body and fin coloration patterns in various butterflyfish.

Butterflyfish Colors.  You gotcher basic brown and variations thereto.  Sort of like “Whistler’s mother.”  Darker gravel darkens them right up.

LA
Inch-long crickets catch their eye.  Their landing ramp mouths can handle crickets.

Foods.  Neon tetras rank at the fore of their fave food folio.  As you might expect by looking at their mouths, these guys dine at the water’s surface.  Fishes that swim midstream or at the bottom need not worry.  Also, fishes larger than neon tetras need not worry.  On the other hand, butterflyfish could quickly clean out a heavy infestation of sub-adult zebra danios.  

LA
Well, they do have a very large mouth.  Mix them carefully.



Since mosquitoes comprise quite a bit of their menu in the wild, butterflyfish ought to like freeze-dried blood worms (although we’ve never tried them).  Tetra and O.S.I. both make these.  Ditto San Francisco brand.

LA
Looks like these two butterflyfish eat pretty good well, that is.

Good Eye Action.  Seems that butterflyfish can see stuff above, below, and at the surface of the water.  Theoretically, they can leap up and snag flying insects.  We’ve never seen this or had one eat out of our fingers.  They do like occasional crickets, mealworms, and other floating insects.  And, they do like freeze-dried foods that float -- especially plankton.  They accept flake foods as well.  They love wax worms also.

LA
This butterflyfish is the one exception to the staying at the surface rule.  Two views.

LA
Poor man's arowana?  Equally ready to leap out at the earliest opportunity.

LA
They think they are flying fish.

Keep Covered.  Any fish that lives at the surface is obviously spending a great deal of time thinking about jumping out.  Some reports say butterflyfish can jump six feet.  That sounds like another fish story, but they do need a good cover.

LA
Scared butterflyfish don't spend all their time at the top.

LA
Just a good looking fish -- actual camouflage colors..

Last Word.   Like many fishes, butterflyfish seem to do better when you add salt to their water -- one teaspoon per gallon.  And, contrary to the old clichι, butterflies are not free.

Laura Eagle,  Brooklyn, NY, April 7, 2011
Hi! I'm a big fan of your site and as a pet store employee I send customers to it all the time for info! I just wanted to say something about African butterfly fish. I have one and she is wonderful. Easy to feed, charismatic, and I have never once seen her try to jump out (the tank is well-covered anyway). She's in a planted 29-gallon with an elephant nose fish, cories, whiteclouds, glass catfish, galaxy rasboras, nerite snails, and various shrimp. I do believe she may have eaten a couple of my rasboras and one of my whiteclouds during her first week in the tank but I am not sure. I hand-feed her frozen bloodworms, mysis shrimp, and brine shrimp by holding the cube at the water's surface and letting her pick bits off of it. When I get live bloodworms I target feed her at the surface holding them between my fingers or letting her get them from a small net. She also eats dried bloodworms, floating pellets, micro floating pellets, flakes, and baby crickets. Surprisingly, my other fish like baby crickets too. I have seen white clouds and glass catfish steal them away from her, so I make sure to get a good amount of them so she gets a fair share. She likes to hang around the filter intake so I tied some water sprite to suction cups and positioned them around the filter to make a nicely covered area for her. I would say she is nocturnal as she does most of her swimming around at night. That's it! Sorry I wrote so much! Keep up the good work!

A:  I'm surprised she didn'y snack on all your little galay pasboras and shrimp.  Sounds like you're keeping her very well fed now.  I'll add your report to my butterfly page.  LA

 

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