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African Butterflyfish

African Butterflyfish
The existence of gliding mammals and reptiles has been well documented, but did you know that there exists a species of fish that glides. We are talking about the African butterflyfish, which is found in water bodies of western Africa.
Rajib Singha
The African butterflyfish (Pantodon buchholzi) is a surface-dwelling species, which boasts of being the lone member of the Pantodontidae family. It is equipped with large pectoral fins that help it glide over short distances across the surface of the water, which it usually does to avoid predators. Its fins have a silvery brown shade and are marked with dark lines, earning it the name 'butterflyfish'.
Facts on the African Butterflyfish
  • The African butterflyfish, a.k.a. freshwater butterflyfish, are equipped to hunt at the surface of the water body. While their pectoral fins help them glide, their upturned mouth makes it easier for them to capture small prey along the water surface.
  • As for the gender, you can distinguish a male from a female only when the latter is carrying eggs. Because then, the female appears fatter than the male. However, one feature that may help distinguish them from each other, is the rear edge of the anal fin. In case of males, it is shaped convexly, whereas in females, it is straight.
  • In the wild, African butterflyfish are found in creeks, lakes, and swamps, as the water in these water bodies is slow-moving ... virtually, still. Also, these water bodies are abundant in surface foliage, which provides them good cover from predators.
  • When kept as a pet, the species must be housed in aquarium of at least 20 US gallons. A temperature of 73 °F - 86 °F is considered ideal for them.
  • The African butterflyfish is known to be a super jumper, and therefore, it is imperative to have a good cover on the aquarium.
  • If you plan to keep African butterflyfish as pets, you will have to ensure that the filtration of the aquarium is not too strong. The species prefers to dwell in still water. Slightly soft, acidic water, with a pH value of 6.9 - 7.1 and KH of 1-10 will be ideal for your pet butterflyfish.
  • African butterflyfish are carnivores, and therefore, their diet in captivity can include crickets, flies, mosquitoes, small spiders, worms, and even gut-loaded small fish. At times, the species will even feast on canned food. Prepared food, however, will have no takers.
As you know, butterflyfish are surface dwellers. Additionally, you also need to consider that they are very aggressive towards other top-dwelling species. If you intend to keep other species along with them, then you should go for those that swim at the bottom or in the middle. So, the ideal tank mates for your pet butterflyfish will be Congo tetras, elephant nose fish, West African cichlids, or the African knife fish.