African Butterflyfish

African Butterflyfish
Latin name:
(Pantodon buchholzi)

Care Level





Green, Tan



Preferred Conditions

75-86° F, KH 1-10, pH 6.9-7.1

Avg. Max Size


Minimum Tank Size

30 gallons


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Have you ever witnessed the mesmerizing dance of colors in an African Butterflyfish? These captivating creatures, native to the freshwater rivers and lakes of West Africa, are a true spectacle to behold. With their vibrant hues and graceful movements, they bring a touch of elegance and beauty to any aquarium.

African Butterflyfish: A Splash of Color in Your Aquarium

African Butterflyfish, scientifically known as Pantodon buchholzi, are characterized by their elongated, butterfly-shaped dorsal fins that flutter gracefully as they swim. Their bodies are adorned with a stunning array of colors, ranging from iridescent blues and greens to vibrant yellows and oranges. These colors often change depending on the fish’s mood and environment, making them a captivating sight to observe.

Unique Characteristics of African Butterflyfish

  • Elongated Dorsal Fin: The African Butterflyfish’s most distinctive feature is its elongated dorsal fin, which resembles the wings of a butterfly. This fin can reach up to half the length of the fish’s body and is used for balance and stability.
  • Coloration: African Butterflyfish exhibit a wide range of colors, including iridescent blues, greens, yellows, and oranges. Their coloration can change depending on their mood, environment, and lighting conditions.
  • Jumping Behavior: African Butterflyfish are known for their jumping behavior. They can leap out of the water to catch insects or escape predators. This behavior requires a well-covered aquarium to prevent the fish from jumping out.

Care Requirements for African Butterflyfish

African Butterflyfish are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for both experienced and beginner aquarists. However, there are a few key requirements to ensure their well-being and longevity.

Tank Size and Setup

  • Tank Size: African Butterflyfish require a spacious tank of at least 20 gallons. A larger tank is recommended if you plan to keep a group of these fish.
  • Water Parameters: African Butterflyfish prefer soft, acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The water temperature should be maintained between 75°F and 82°F.
  • Filtration and Water Quality: African Butterflyfish require clean, well-filtered water. A high-quality filter system is essential to maintain good water quality and remove harmful toxins.

Diet and Feeding

  • Diet: African Butterflyfish are omnivorous and will accept a variety of foods, including live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. They particularly enjoy insects, small crustaceans, and bloodworms.
  • Feeding Schedule: African Butterflyfish should be fed small amounts of food several times a day. Overfeeding can lead to health problems, so it’s important to monitor their food intake.

Tank Mates

  • Peaceful Species: African Butterflyfish are generally peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful species, such as tetras, rasboras, and corydoras catfish.
  • Avoid Aggressive Fish: African Butterflyfish should not be kept with aggressive or territorial fish, as they may become stressed or harassed.

Creating an Ideal Habitat for African Butterflyfish

To ensure the well-being and happiness of your African Butterflyfish, it’s important to create an ideal habitat that mimics their natural environment. Here are some tips for creating a suitable habitat:

Tank Decorations

  • Live Plants: African Butterflyfish appreciate the presence of live plants in their tank. Plants provide hiding places, reduce stress, and help maintain good water quality.
  • Floating Plants: Floating plants, such as water lettuce or duckweed, can provide shade and cover for African Butterflyfish. They also help absorb excess nutrients from the water.
  • Driftwood and Rocks: Driftwood and rocks can be used to create a natural-looking habitat for African Butterflyfish. These structures provide hiding places and perching spots for the fish.


  • Moderate Lighting: African Butterflyfish prefer moderate lighting. Avoid bright or intense lighting, as this can stress the fish.
  • Natural Light Cycle: It’s important to provide a natural light cycle for African Butterflyfish. This means providing 10-12 hours of light per day, followed by a period of darkness.

FAQs About African Butterflyfish

  1. Q: How big do African Butterflyfish get?
    A: African Butterflyfish can grow up to 6 inches in length, with males typically being larger than females.
  2. Q: Are African Butterflyfish easy to care for?
    A: Yes, African Butterflyfish are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for both experienced and beginner aquarists.
  3. Q: What is the ideal tank size for African Butterflyfish?
    A: African Butterflyfish require a spacious tank of at least 20 gallons. A larger tank is recommended if you plan to keep a group of these fish.


African Butterflyfish are captivating creatures that add a touch of elegance and beauty to any aquarium. With their vibrant colors, graceful movements, and jumping behavior, they are a joy to observe. By providing them with the proper care and habitat, you can ensure that these mesmerizing fish thrive and bring years of enjoyment.