The freshwater butterflyfish or African butterflyfish (Pantodon buchholzi) is the only species in the family Pantodontidae.
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.
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.
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.
Click on any of the images below to view our Butterfly Fish gallery.