African Butterflyfish Information
The African Butterflyfish is an oddly shaped but very beautiful freshwater fish available in the aquarium keeping hobby. It is unique because it sits right under the water’s surface, resembles a butterfly/bird, and can actually glide a little if it jumps out of the aquarium. As a disclaimer, please do not allow this to happen! The African Butterfly grows to be about 5 inches so it does not get incredibly big but may try and eat anything that will fit into its mouth. This article will go over aquarium requirements, food & dietary needs, compatible tank mates and breeding habits of the African Butterfly Fish.
The African Butterfly Fish spends most of its time just under the water’s surface. An aquarium with slower water movement is best suited for this fish. This can be hard to achieve because filtration systems naturally create varying rates of water movement.
Because of its adult size, an African Butterfly should not be kept in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons. To keep more African Butterfly Fish, you should also consider providing even more space. Although they are usually mild tempered, they can get a little aggressive so providing plenty of space should deter most aggression.
African Butterfly Fish are unfortunately excellent jumpers (and gliders). A well fitted lid is a must in the aquarium. Otherwise, this fish has a good chance of escaping. Furthermore, provide plants that reach close to the water surface. This will give this fish places to hide when startled or stressed.
This species of fish is hardy regarding temperature but the pH in the aquarium will need fine tuning. The African Butterfly Fish does best in the following water parameters:
- Temperature: 75°-86° F
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- KH: 1-10
Luckily, the pH requirement is neither incredibly acidic or basic. It sits right around neutral which should be fairly easy to achieve. Be careful when using buffers to lower or raise pH. Overdosing certain buffers can cause your system to crash with a sudden drop or increase in pH levels. Stability in water is very important to keep your fish and system healthy!
Food & Diet
This species of fish is carnivorous. It waits right under the water’s surface for prey to come close or fall in the water and the prey quickly becomes a meal. However, the African Butterfly Fish food type provided by you, as a keeper, can vary. This fish species can eat bloodworms, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, Beef Heart and much more meaty foods found in pet stores. If you are feeling adventurous, you can step outside and catch flies and moths to feed your African Butterfly Fish. Be careful because foods caught outside can bring parasites, bacteria and diseases into your fish tank. It is really fun watching the African Butterfly eat.
African Butterfly Fish’s tank mates should be both for the most part be larger in size and peaceful. This species of fish will try eating anything that will fit into its mouth. Smaller fish such as: tetras, rasboras and guppies are not recommended. Furthermore, hatchet fish use the same space as the African Butterfly Fish and also not recommended. I have heard success stories of keeping smaller species of fish with African Butterfly Fish, but it’s always a big risk to do so.
African Butterfly Fish do great with larger and peaceful fish such as Severums, Angelfish, Rainbowfish, Denison Barbs and Blood Parrots. They will get harassed by aggressive cichlid species like Jack Dempseys, Tiger Oscars and so on. Be mindful of the species you add with this fish. Some may either be too aggressive, too small, or live in incompatible water parameters.
You will need a few things to successfully breed African Butterfly Fish. You will of course need a male and female willing to breed. I would highly recommend adding Salvinia, which is a floating plant, in the aquarium that has the breeding adults. The eggs will more than likely float to the top of the aquarium and the plants will help protect them.
The breeding African Butterfly Fish will need to go through a “natural” breeding season. We will recreate the breeding season in an aquarium setting. The two key factors to successfully breeding this fish species are water level changes and water temperature changes. The temperature should sit between 77° and 80
The breeding African Butterfly Fish will need to go through a “natural” breeding season. We will recreate the breeding season in an aquarium setting. The two key factors to successfully breeding this fish species are water level changes and water temperature changes. The temperature should sit between 77° and 80° F. The more important thing to do is to lower the water level a few inches. Some aquarists lower the water level to where only a few inches are left. This will be impossible in an aquarium with other fish.
Once water levels are lowered, wait a few days and you should see the fish breed. Increase water levels and if you’re lucky you will see your fish release eggs. I would recommend scooping the eggs up and putting them into their own containers. Otherwise, the adults will eat them. Once the eggs hatch, they must be consistently fed live baby brine shrimp until they are old enough to eat other foods.
African Butterfly Fish are very interesting and unique fish that are great additions to specific aquarium types. They have certain requirements that may not work well with all fish. Breeding is fairly easy for these fish but keeping the young alive may be a challenge. If you’re ever at a pet store, check out African Butterfly Fish. Also, take a look at Atparium for more information on fish, reptiles, crustaceans and more!