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Pantodon buchholzi, the African Butterlfy Fish.
Pantodon buchholzi, Peters, 1876

African Butterfly Fish

Origin: Tropical Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Kongo. These fish predominantly occur in standing, or slowly flowing, shallow forest waters, which are densely grown.

Etymology: Unknown.

Synonyms: None.

First European import: Germany, 1905, by W. Schroot.

Description: See picture(s).

Care: Best kept at a temperature of around 25 degrees. The fish can jump well, and use their fins to glide over the water, this way they can jump several meters. It is therefore important to keep the tank covered. Adding floating plants A lowered waterlevel of 25 cm is beneficial, although not necessary.Floating plants, peat filtration! A large tank is required. mostly active in the evening.

Temperature: 23-30 degrees.

Feeding: Live insects and larvae, worms. Only accepts food at the surface! Larger Butterfly fish also eat small fish, if not fed well..

Size: 12.0 cm

pH: 6.0-7.5

Breeding: The male will initiate breeding by pursuing the female, trying to get on top of the female. This way they will swim around for a while, until the male the male descends from the back of the female. Mating takes place in between plants, with the male holding the female with his fins. The eggs will hatch after 3-7 days.To get the fish to breed, a lowered waterlevel, 10 cm or less, is necessary. Slowly adding 'rain' may induce spawning. The eggs float to the surface. The main problem in breeding these fish is raising the fry. Loads of live food are required, as the fry simply wait until food passes by.

Bearing in mind the Butterfly fish’s habitat, thick with vegetation, the water needs to be soft (<10°dGH) and acidic (pH<6.5). Peat filtration is recommended. Tank lighting should be reduced, as the fish is crepuscular tending towards nocturnal in its feeding behaviors, and temperature raised a few degrees. The fish spawns over an extended period of time, the female producing 3 to 7 eggs will at each pass. The eggs will float to the surface where they can be collected and transferred to another aquarium with the same water for hatching. The spawning will continue until approximately one to two hundred eggs have been laid. The eggs are initially transparent but turn dark brown over the first 10 hours or so and hatch after a further 24 hours. Parents do not tend to the eggs but this is not a concern if they are removed from the parents.
The fry are difficult to raise and good water quality and diet must be maintained. As usual, the best first food is freshly hatched brine shrimp. Feed larger foods as the fish grow and remember those daily 10% water changes. The fragility of the younger fish may account for the fact that we only see adult and sub-adult species (>2.5 inches) for sale at our dealers.

Sexual dimorphism: Males can easily be distinguished from the females by the shape of the anal fin, in which the . The fins in males are also longer.

Prices: Between 5-7€

Additional: These fish are closely related to Arowanas!

Picture references: Picture 1: E. Naus


Sterba, G.(1979): Aquariumvissen. Elsevier Nederland B. V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book)

Hoedeman, J. J.(1969): Aquariumvissen encyclopedie 4. Elsevier Nederland B. V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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