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African butterfly

Introduction to the African Butterfly Fish

The African butterfly fish (Pantodon buchholzi) is a unique and interesting fresh water species native to tropical and central western Africa. As their name suggests, it has a beautiful and colorful body resembling that of a butterfly. This fish is a rather small and delicate species, reaching just a couple of inches in length, and has an unusual disc-shaped body with a dorsal fin located on its back. Unlike other tropical aquarium fish, this species is generally quite peaceful, but may become territorial and aggressive when mating.

Colorful Features and Elegant Habits of African Butterfly Fish

The African butterfly fish stands out with its amazing colors and patterns. Its body has a pale yellowish-brown base color, with black, blue and orange stripes adorning its head and its body. A black dot can be observed at the caudal shield, which gives the impression of a butterfly or a flower. Its eye is its most distinctive feature, as it has a bright red iris.

In the wild, these fish are mostly seen in slow-moving or still waters, including large rivers, lakes, ponds, and swamps. They form small schools, often in shaded areas near vegetation. During the night, these fish may rest on the bottom or near vegetation.

Care for African Butterfly Fish

The African butterfly fish can be relatively easy to care for and can make an interesting addition to a peaceful community tank. These fish are most comfortable kept in a mature tank environment with plenty of planting, as they can be easily spooked by bright/harsh lighting. An acidic water condition with a temperature of 75-84 F is preferred, and the pH should be between 6.0-7.0. The tank size should be a minimum of 10 gallons.

When it comes to diet, this species is an omnivore, so it will feed on algae, live and frozen foods, and flake food. They can also be offered blanched vegetables, such as peas and spinach.

African butterfly two

Breeding Tips for African Butterfly Fish

Breeding African butterfly fish is relatively simple for experienced aquarists. A breeding tank should be provided with some floating plants, in order to provide cover for the fish, and a soft, slightly acidic water condition should be ensured.

African butterfly fish are egg-scatterers, meaning the eggs are scattered throughout the tank and not guarded by the adults. Eggs hatch after 48-72 hours and the fry become free-swimming 5-7 days after hatching. The fry should be fed infusoria, baby brine shrimp, and other diluted foods.


The African butterfly fish is a beautiful and peaceful aquarium species with an elegant disc-shaped body and vivid colors. Its distinctive eye and arresting patterns make it a highly intriguing species. These fish require a mature environment and good care, making them pretty hardy fish in tanks. They can provide a wonderful addition to a peaceful community tank and their breeding can also provide a rewarding experience for aquarists.

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