Pantodon buchholzi Peters 1876

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African butterfly fish

Pantodon buchholzi inhabits the slow-moving and still waters in creeks, lakes, swamps and backwaters. For this species the water depth is immaterial, but the tank needs plenty of surface area with dense aquatic or overhanging vegetation, as in Nature it is capable to jump out of the water, to search for insects or to escape from predators.

Submitted by
Benedetta Spelta
2.1409450, 21.4618988
Geographical region
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Water body part
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Small creek from Victoria River, Victoria, Cameroon, West Africa. Distribution area: Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Benin, Chad, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Niger, Gabon.
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Least Concern (LC)

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Black water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
24.5 - 27.5 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

5.7 - 6.5
best under 50
Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
12 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
80 l
Social behaviour
Shoaling fish
Behaviour description

In general this species is quite peaceable, but can be somewhat aggressive towards conspecifics.

Aggression grade
Night active
Sexual dimorphism

The fish can be sexed by looking at the back edge of the anal fin: straight in females and convex in males.

Nutrition in Nature

Pantodon buchholzi is an exophageous insectivore, feeding on terrestrial insects and aquatic larvae and nymphs of insects. It also feeds on crustaceans and small fish.


Breeding tank set-up

To breed them in necessary an aquarium with a large surface area, 120x40cm would be a good size. The aquarium should be filled with soft and acidic water with pH 6.0-6.5 and a temperature of 25-27°C, and be be covered with floating plants like Ceratopteris cornuta. Breeding can be stimulated through water change, imitating the water level fall and rise in Nature: dry season and begin of the rainy season.

Nutrition parents

The couple should be conditioned on a high quality diet of live and frozen foods.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

Spawning is preceded by chasing of the female by the male among the plants, with the male clasping the female between his fins. The spawning period lasts several days.

Breeding habits
Egg scatterer
Hatching period
72 - 96 hours
Number of eggs in average
min 80 / max 200
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

Newly hatched brine shrimp is the best option, as the fry do not actively seek food initially, consuming items only passing directly by them.

Notes on reproduction

The laid eggs float to the surface, and should be immediately removed to a separate aquarium, otherwise the parents will feed on them.