Select Page

African Butterfly Fish – Pantodon buchholzi

African But­ter­fly Fish – Pantodon buch­holzi is a fas­ci­nat­ing, unique top dwelling fish. They have beau­ti­ful pec­toral fins which resem­ble the wings of a but­ter­fly. It uses these pec­toral fins to glide swift­ly and effort­less­ly in the aquar­i­um. A secure fit­ting aquar­i­um canopy is rec­om­mend­ed to pre­vent this fish from using their fins to glide and jump out of the water/aquarium. A type of fish that stays rel­a­tive­ly small, there­fore is a great choice for a small­er style aquar­i­um set up.

Com­mon Name: African But­ter­fly Fish

Sci­en­tif­ic Name: Pantodon buch­holzi

Size: 4 inch­es / 10 cm

Nat­ur­al Habi­tat: African Rift Val­ley Lakes

Ide­al Tank: The African But­ter­fly Fish – Pantodon buch­holzi requires an aquar­i­um of a min­i­mum of 30 gal­lons with an arrange­ment of plants that grow near the sur­face that this spe­cif­ic fish can use for cov­er. They are resilient to dis­ease and can han­dle a vast range of tem­per­a­tures up to the mid 80’s. These fish is capa­ble of  jump­ing out of the water, and can even glide short dis­tances. It is there­fore very impor­tant to have a canopy that fits prop­er­ly in order to save the fish from jump­ing out of your aquar­i­um set up.

Aquar­i­um Size: 30 gal­lon / 120 litre

Tank Mates: Quite peace­ful when they kept with sim­i­lar sized species and larg­er tank mates. Avoid hous­ing them with top dwelling fish and focus on fish that are bot­tom and mid dwelling.

Care Lev­el: Inter­me­di­ate+

Aquar­i­um Water Tem­per­a­ture: 75 – 86°F /  24 – 30°C

Aquar­i­um Water pH: Range 6.9 – 7.1

Feed­ing: The African But­ter­fly fish is car­niv­o­rous. It requires a vari­ety of flake and pel­lets with live foods offered as fur­ther sup­ple­men­ta­tion of diet. Feed the African But­ter­fly a steady diet of small fish, insects, brine shrimp and freeze-dried foods for­mu­lat­ed for this fish.

Sex­ing: To deter­mine the sex of the African But­ter­fly Fish you have to look at the anal fin. The females anal fin is straight. But on the male one of the ray’s on the anal fin is much longer than the rest.


Oth­er Con­sid­er­a­tions: The African But­ter­fly Fish is com­mon to lakes across Africa and is an inter­est­ing, unique fish. It spends most of its time lin­ger­ing at the sur­face of the water, wait­ing for their prey. It has a dark brown to black body and is speck­led with lighter col­ors. The fins resem­ble the wings of a bird, giv­ing this fish a dis­tinc­tive one of a kind appear­ance. It does remain fair­ly small, but cau­tion needs to be exer­cised, as this fish will swal­low any­thing it can fit into its mouth.

The African But­ter­fly fish is a real­ly odd look­ing fish and can make an inter­est­ing addi­tion to the right tank. When viewed from above the African But­ter­fly fish’s pec­toral fins resem­ble but­ter­fly wings. They come from slow flow­ing rivers in Africa so it would be good to put them in a tank with slow­er water move­ment. They are preda­to­ry and will eat small­er sur­face dwelling fish. But­ter­fly fish are not as active as oth­er types of fish.

Com­pli­ments and cred­it goes to cop­per­chan with their YouTube video fea­tur­ing a but­ter­fly fish with a bet­ta fish in a fresh­wa­ter aquar­i­um.

Similar Posts:

  • Retropin­nis Bichir – Polypterus retropin­nis
  • African Arowana – Het­ero­tis niloti­cus
  • Zebra Shelld­weller – Neo­lam­pro­lo­gus sim­ilis
  • But­ter­fly Ple­co – Dekey­se­ria brachyu­ra
  • Clown Cat­fish – Syn­odon­tis decorus
  • Zebra Tilapia – Tilapia buttikoferi
  • Choco­late Goura­mi – Sphaerichthys ospho­r­menoides
  • Com­pressed Cich­lid – Alto­lam­pro­lo­gus