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Pantodon, or aquarium butterfly fish

African fish species have long surprised even the most sophisticated aquarists. The most famous Malawian cichlids, dazzling with all the colors of the rainbow.

Known and kalamoiht, which is easy to take for a fancy snake. But no less surprising are butterfly fish, which have become welcome guests in many aquariums.

Pantodon or butterfly fish (lat. Pantodon buchholzi, eng.

African Butterfly Fish) – the only member of the family of freshwater butterfly fish or moth (lat. Pantodontidae), belonging to the Aravanoid species (lat.


It inhabits fresh and stagnant water bodies of West and Central Africa. You can meet her in the swamps, lakes, quiet backwaters of rivers with dense aquatic vegetation.

It prefers to stay in the upper layers of water and shows its activity at dusk.

The butterfly fish is genetically closest to the Arawan, which is clearly reflected in the resemblance. It has a body strongly compressed from the sides and a snout raised upwards.

Her mouth is full of small and sharp teeth, located on the jaws, palate and soshnyake.

The pectoral fins, due to which it got its name, is the most conspicuous part of this fish. They are large, wide and spread perpendicularly, like a moth.

Under the pectoral fins are abdominal. They are lush and have 4 filamentary soft rays. The dorsal fin is small and strongly shifted to the caudal stalk.

But unlike Arawan, the size of the butterfly fish is much more modest – 10-12 cm. The background color is light coffee, with darker spots scattered around randomly.

In nature, the pantodon is an ideal insectivorous predator, capable of hanging for hours near the surface of the water, waiting for a potential prey. His body shape allows him to jump out of the water for prey or, in case of danger, to distances of up to 2-3 meters, and his big eyes keep an eye out for both the surface and the bottom.

In addition, the pectoral fins provide invaluable assistance in disguise – if viewed from above, the fish looks like a leaf that has fallen into the water.

Like the Arawana, butterfly fish is considered a living fossil, the appearance of which has not changed for millions of years.

The butterfly fish is a popular aquarium fish breeding facility. It can not be called a pet for a beginner, as there are a lot of nuances in caring for her. In order for this African beauty to please the owner with her graceful appearance, the following conditions should be created:

  • Since the pantodon lives mainly in the upper layers of water, it is necessary to provide it with a spacious aquarium with a large area of ​​water surface. Perfect aquarium from 80 liters (90x30x30cm). It is important to remember that its width is much more important than depth.
  • In nature, butterfly fish lives in shady places. For this reason, dim, diffused lighting and floating vegetation should be used.
  • The content of butterfly fish requires slightly brownish, soft, sour water. To enrich it with tannins, you should use a substrate of dried leaves of beech, oak and almond. Any significant fluctuations in the parameters should be avoided, as the occupant is very sensitive to them.
  • To maintain the softness of the water at an optimum level, the use of a peat filter is recommended.
  • Flow in the aquarium should be minimal.
  • For its size, the pantodon is a great jumper, so the aquarium should be equipped with a lid.
  • The soft long rays of the abdominal fins can be taken by neighbors for food and gnawed. For this reason, it is better to keep the fish-butterflies with peaceful bottom fish.
  • It is noticed that the pantodon feels much calmer on a dark substrate.
  • temperature: 23-30 ° C (optimal – 25-28 ° C);
  • hardness: 2-15 ° dH;
  • acidity: 6.0-7.5 pH.

The butterfly fish is an insectivorous predator. In nature, it feeds on small invertebrates, insects and their larvae.

Do not stop and small fish.

In conditions of captivity, it perfectly eats dry flaky, live and frozen feed, pieces of earthworms, oysters, as well as small fish. The main thing is that the potential prey should be near the surface, since, due to the jaw structure, the pantodon cannot pick up fodder that fell to the bottom.

Dry food should not form the basis of the diet, since avitaminosis develops from the butterfly fish.

Some aquarists feed them with live insects. Since the caught flies can be carriers of various diseases, including parasitic ones, using them as food is dangerous.

One of the options for obtaining safe flies is this – you can buy in the fishing shop maggots and put them in a warm place. After a few days they pupate and then turn into flies.

They can be given to fish without fear.

Although it is difficult to achieve breeding of butterfly fish in an aquarium, it is still possible. This will require manufacturers to provide the most spacious aquarium, from 1.2 m in length and 0.4 m in width.

The water in it should be soft and sour (6.0-6.5 pH), and its temperature – 25-26.5 ° C.

Gender is determined by the shape of the anal fin. In females it is straight, and in males it is crooked.

A couple of weeks before spawning, producers are fed live and frozen foods with high protein content. Such a diet encourages them to reproduce and contributes to the formation of high-quality sexual products.

In order to eliminate spawning, it is necessary to gradually lower the water level over a couple of weeks. Then 15-20 cm of fresh soft water is added.

In the evening and at night, the male begins to actively pursue the female, circling around her and mating 5-10 times. After that, the female must be transplanted.

As it ripens, it sweeps from 80 to 200 already fertilized eggs on the plants, which immediately float to the surface. At first they are transparent, but turn brown in a few hours.

The fish of butterflies is not peculiar to care for the offspring, they can be a danger to caviar Therefore, the female must be in every way fenced from her.

Incubation of caviar lasts for 3-4 days, after which larvae hatch. As soon as their yolk sac resolves, it is time to select starter feed for them. Here begins the most difficult task – to raise the fry.

The fact is that for their feeding a small and mobile feed is necessary, for example, Nauplii Artemia or Cyclops. It complicates the task and the very way of feeding the young – it does not look for food on its own, eating only what moves on it.

Fry are also very sensitive to water quality. Frequent small changes are needed to prevent strong parameter variations.

In general, although the butterfly fish and predator, but it can be called peaceful. Other peace-loving fish living in the water column and not pinching its tender pelvic fins will suit her as neighbors.

  • Good neighbors for her will be a medium-sized character, loving soft water, for example, thorns and tetra congo.
  • In addition, it is recommended to attach other peaceful African fish to it, for example, elephant fish, calamoichta.
  • The neighborhood with peaceful dwarf and South American cichlids will also be successful: apistograms, scalarias, discus.
  • The stigma of the fish is raised upwards, so it will not pick up food that has fallen to the bottom. For this reason, it is recommended to keep it with non-aggressive catfish: synodontis, corridor, antsistrus, etc.

Content with aggressive fish that tend to pluck fins, such as barbs and most cichlids, is strongly discouraged.

Neighborhood with small fish should be avoided: danios, neons, guppies, microassemblies. They pantodon easily eat.

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