Butterfly Fly Fish

Scientific Name : Pantodon buchholzi

Common Names : African Freshwater Butterfly

Care Level : Beginner

Potential Adult Size :  4 inches (10 cm)

Origin / Habitat : Africa

Temperament / Behavior : Eats Smaller Fish

Breeding : Mouth Breeder

Aquarium Size : 20 gallon minimum

Tank Mates : Medium Size

Diet / Foods : An omnivore

Tank Region : Top

Few of the world’s natural residents dare the imagination such as the African Butterfly Fish. A seeming morph between a moth and fish, this little fellow is sure to capture the eye, leaving one smitten. Always alert and in search of food these fellows live at the surface waiting for a passing insect. They are indeed fully capable of leaving the water behind and gliding several feet in pursuit of their meal. Therefore, a tight fitting lid is a must, as they can find the smallest of holes in the lid and escape to flight. I have found them as far as ten feet away from their aquarium dead on the floor.

They will eat young guppies, young anything really as long it can fit in their mouth. Still they are good tank mates for anything they cannot fit in their mouth (Gourami, Swordtails, Barbs, Danio..Ext) . Although they are ardent predators, they will not waste their time chasing what they cannot eat.

Shirttail relatives to Arowana, they too are mouth breeders, although they are not bred everyday. In my experience they must be at least two or three years old. I have never been able to film them breeding but You tube has some examples of it.

Personally I have always found these guys to be extremely interesting and worth trying out. They eat anything you give them as long as it floats, and they are easy to maintain. If your water is wet, they will make do.

Historically speaking, African Butterfly Fish were a very early import. The picture above comes from a 1912 German catalog. With that said, like many African fishes they were not imported regularly until the 1960’s. I got tired of thumbing through catalogs from the 1930’s looking for them, although they could be found in books of that time. So aquarium hobbyist were aware of them.

The African Butterfly Fish was named after the German scientist who described it and was on the expedition that discovered it, Reinhold Wilhelm Buchholz.

Buchholz was a zoologist who made contributions in the fields of herpetology, carcinology (Study of crustaceans) and ichthyology.

He studied medicine and was an associate professor of zoology at the University of Greifswald. In 1869–70 he participated as a scientist on the Second German North Polar Expedition, aboard the schooner Hansa. He was stationed in western equatorial Africa, where he conducted zoological research, it was then that the party found The Africa Butterfly fish and it was named after him.

It is of note that while in Africa he fell ill to Malaria regained his health enough to return home and even excepted a position of full professor and director of a Zoological Museum, but shortly afterward died from pneumonia while still a young man.

Reinhold Wilhelm Buchholz 1837-1876


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