The freshwater butterflyfish or African butterflyfish, Pantodon buchholzi, is the only species in the family Pantodontidae within the Order Osteoglossiformes. It is not closely related to saltwater butterflyfishes.
Description and habits
Freshwater butterfly fish are small, no more than 13 centimetres (5.1 in) in length, with very large pectoral fins. It has a large and well-vascularized swim bladder, enabling it to breathe air at the surface of the water. They are carnivorous, feeding primarily on aquatic insects and smaller fishes.Greenwood, P.H. & Wilson, M.V. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N.. ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 81. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
The freshwater butterflyfish is a specialized surface hunter. Its eyes are constantly trained to the surface and its upturned mouth is specifically adapted to capture small prey along the water's surface. If enough speed is built up in the water, a butterflyfish can jump and glide a small distance above the surface to avoid predation. It also wiggles its pectoral fins as it glides, with the help of specialized, enlarged pectoral muscles, the ability which earned the fish its common name.Berra, Tim M. (2001). Freshwater Fish Distribution. San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-093156-7
When freshwater butterflyfish spawn, they produce a mass of large floating eggs at the surface. Fertilisation is believed to be internal. Eggs hatch in approximately seven days.
Freshwater butterflyfish are found in the slightly acidic standing bodies of water in West Africa. They require a year round temperature of 73-86°F. Butterflyfish are found in slow to no current areas with high amounts of surface foliage for cover. They are commonly seen in Lake Chad, the Congo Basin, throughout Lower Niger, Cameroon, Ogooue, and Upper Zambezi. They have also been seen in the Niger Delta, Lower Ogun, and in the Lower Cross River.
In the aquarium
Freshwater Butterflyfish are kept as pets in an aquarium of at least 30 gallons - about 115 liters - although a single specimen should be kept in that size as the only top-level fish, as they can be aggressive to their own kind and others at surface level. The tops of the tanks have to be tightly closed because of their jumping habits. They also prefer a tank with live plants, especially ones that float near the surface, providing hiding places to reduce stress. They require a pH of 6.9-7.1, and a KH of 1-10. In aquaria, Freshwater Butterflyfish can grow to 5 inches. Freshwater Butterflyfish should not be kept with fin-eating or aggressive fish. They eat any fish small enough to fit in their mouths, so they should be maintained with bottom-dwelling fish or top- and mid- dwelling fish too large in size to be bothered by it. They generally will not eat prepared food, and do best on a diet of live or possibly canned crickets and other insects, as well as live, gut-loaded feeder fish (Goldfish should be avoided). They prefer still water, so filtration should not be too powerful.
- "Pantodon buchholzi". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=161901. Retrieved 11 March 2006.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2005). "Pantodon buchholzi" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
- Innes, Dr William T., EXOTIC AQUARIUM FISHES, Innes Publishing Co. Philadelphia, 1935