Butterfly Fish - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 2 Old 02-28-2012, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
Butterfly Fish

Has anyone had any experience with these fish? They seem very sedate and are very cool looking surface feeding fish. What can go with them?
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post #2 of 2 Old 02-28-2012, 11:51 AM
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Assuming you mean the African Butterfly Fish, or scientifically Pantodon buchholzi, we have a profile [click the shaded name]. I had a pair many years ago, and have thought of getting a pair again, they are interesting fish in a way. But not if you like active fish, as they will sit motionless at the surface for hours and hours, only springing into action (and they can move fast) when food appears, or to interact.

They are predatory and have a huge mouth, so they cannot be kept with any fish that is smaller since when the smaller fish surfaces they will likely attempt to eat it. A male/female pair is best, and it is easy to tell them apart by the anal fin which is notched in the male and rounded in the female.

Floating plants are needed, and they will just sit among them. They jump and well, so the tank must be covered at all times. One of mine jumped out once when I wasn't around, and I found him on the floor; surprisingly to me, he survived. Must have been out at least 15 minutes, he was dry to the touch. He charged down to the substrate when I dumped him back in the tank, and remained there for a few hours, but he recovered and I had him for several years (with the female) after that.

Food should be chunky; frozen squid (you can buy this as marine fish food) is ideal, along with chunks of plankton. Insects (flies, beetles), small earthworms. Food must float, if it sinks they will not go down for it. I also had them eating prepared (dry) foods like freezedried worms, plankton; if you drop it right in front of them they often will lunge and get it, or you can push it around the water surface with a piece of broom or something.

A 20g long (30 inches length) would be a good tank; I had my pair in a 24-inch 15g and they did well. Keeping the water level below the top allows you to see them from above and below. Water Sprite is ideal as it will send fronds above the water too. Tankmates should only be substrate fish, like Whiptail catfish, small species plecos, loaches in a large enough tank. Or they can be in a large tank with similar-sized fish below them.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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