African Butterfly Fish: Care, Tank Mates, Size & More

Are you looking for an exotic and unique addition to your aquarium? Look no further than the African butterfly fish!

The African Butterfly Fish, also known as the Freshwater Butterfly Fish, is a beloved species among aquarists everywhere. Its popularity has risen recently, and it’s easy to see why.

Not only do these fish have a unique and captivating appearance, but they can be found in tanks worldwide.

However, some things could be improved regarding the care of these fish.

Understanding the conditions and habitat requirements is essential to keep them in your home aquarium.

With proper care and attention, African butterfly fish can thrive in your aquarium, providing endless fascination for years.

Species Overview

The African Butterfly Fish is an intriguing freshwater species that has captured the attention of many aquarists.

Confusing the African Butterfly Fish with saltwater butterflyfishes is a common mistake, but only when written – they look nothing alike!

These fish inhabit large bodies of water in West Africa, with either no current or very little.

One of their most interesting traits is their ability to jump through the air.

Unlike other fish who simply break the water surface, this species has large pectoral fins resembling butterfly wings, allowing them to fan out and extend their stay in the air.

This is a vital technique to escape predators in the wild.

The African Butterfly Fish has remained largely unchanged since ancient times due to their efficiency in hunting and avoiding being eaten.

Lifespan Of African Butterfly Fish


African Butterfly Fish have a typical lifespan of 5-6 years; however, it is possible to exceed this lifespan with good care and genetics.

To ensure your fish lives as long as possible, there are several factors you need to consider.

Firstly, breeding habits can greatly impact your African Butterfly Fish’s overall health and longevity.

When selecting potential mates for breeding, it’s important to choose healthy individuals free from any genetic defects or diseases.

Additionally, providing an optimal breeding environment can help manage their lifespan by reducing stress levels and promoting healthy offspring.

Environmental factors such as water quality, temperature, and lighting should all be carefully monitored to create the best conditions for successful reproduction.

Managing the lifespan of your African Butterfly Fish requires careful attention and dedication.

Following proper breeding practices and maintaining a healthy environment can help ensure your fish live longer than their expected lifespan.

Remember to regularly monitor water quality and provide a balanced diet rich in nutrients – these small steps can make a big difference in extending the life of your aquatic pets.

Appearance Of African Butterfly Fish

They are also known as Freshwater Butterfly Fish, which accurately describes their physical features.

The Freshwater Butterfly Fish is truly a sight to behold. Its design has remained unchanged for millions of years, which is a testament to its staying power and success.

Its body is shaped to make it a master of the surface – its eyes and mouth are angled upwards, so it can easily scoop up any small prey that comes its way and take in oxygen from the surrounding air.

Its pectoral fins are fan-shaped and point away from the surface so it can sneak up on its unsuspecting victims.

These fish have average-sized dorsal and anal fins, though their caudal fin is quite large.

All of these fins are translucent hues with darker stripes running through them in an even pattern.

The ventral fins of these fish are particularly interesting – looking almost like thin barbels.

They don’t help with mobility much but rather help the fish detect potential danger from below.

These fish come in shades of grey and brown, with small dots adorning their lighter sides. The coloration may differ slightly from one specimen to another.

Size Of African Butterfly Fish

African Butterfly Fish may not be as large as they appear in photos. These fish typically grow up to 5 inches long, making them a relatively small addition to your aquarium.

In some cases, the Freshwater Butterfly Fish grow longer by an inch. All these instances resulted from purchasing from a superb breeder and providing the best care possible.

African Butterfly Fish Care Tips

Do you want to provide your African Butterfly Fish with the best care possible?

It is essential to understand their needs and ensure they have a habitat that meets them.

Tank setup is crucial for these fish, as they prefer calm waters without much current.

A tall tank with plenty of hiding spots like plants or rocks will help create an environment similar to what they would experience in the wild.

Feeding habits are another vital aspect of caring for African Butterfly Fish. They enjoy live food like insects, worms, and small crustaceans.

However, it’s important not to overfeed them as this can lead to health issues such as bloating or constipation.

Regular water changes and tank cleaning can prevent common health issues like fin rot or bacterial infections.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your African Butterfly Fish lives a long and healthy life.

Recommended Tank Size For African Butterfly Fish

To provide them with a comfortable home, choosing the right tank size and setup is essential.

The minimum recommended tank size for an African Butterfly Fish is 40 gallons, but keep in mind that a shallow and wide tank will give them more usable space than a deep one.

A lid for the tank is essential to keep the fish from jumping out. They’ll likely try this eventually, so safeguarding them is necessary.

When setting up their tank, include plenty of hiding spots like plants or decorations to mimic their natural habitat.

Additionally, since these fish are surface dwellers, you’ll want to leave some open space at the top of the tank for them to swim freely.

To ensure compatibility with other fish species, ideal tank mates for African Butterfly Fish include those occupying different aquarium levels, such as bottom-dwelling catfish or mid-level tetras.

Avoid fast-swimming fish that may outcompete them for food or fin-nipping species that could damage their delicate fins.

When choosing tank mates, your African Butterfly Fish can thrive in their aquatic home with proper care and consideration.

As conscientious pet owners, we must consider the size of our fish tanks, how we set them up, and which species we house together.

By following these guidelines for caring for African Butterfly Fish, you can create a beautiful and harmonious underwater environment for all its inhabitants to enjoy.

Water Parameters For African Butterfly Fish

This species requires very specific conditions; environmental changes can cause stress or death.

Therefore, monitoring water temperature between 75°F to 86°F, pH levels between 6.5 to 7 (with ideal pH at 6.8), and water hardness ranging from 1-10 KH.

You may need a reliable filtration system like a sponge filter or hang-on-back filter with a low flow rate to achieve these parameters because they are not strong swimmers.

Additionally, adding some live plants will help maintain the water quality and provide hiding spots for your fish.

When it comes to decorations, avoid sharp objects or anything that could harm them since they tend to jump out of the water if startled.

Instead, opt for natural-looking driftwood and rocks that mimic their native African habitats.

Maintaining optimal water parameters can be challenging, but it is doable with proper research and dedication.

Always test your water frequently using kits available at your local pet store and adjust accordingly.

Doing so will keep your African Butterfly Fish healthy!

Habitat Requirements For African Butterfly Fish

Creating the perfect habitat for African Butterfly Fish is essential to their well-being.

Aquatic plants play a crucial role in replicating their natural environment, so make sure to include some floating aquarium plants that will provide them with ample hiding spaces.

However, be cautious not to overdo it, as these fish need enough room to access the surface without obstructions.

Aside from aquatic plants, water current, and lighting requirements should also be considered.

African Butterfly Fish prefer calm waters, so avoid setting up filters or pumps that may stir up too much motion in the tank.

Additionally, they require moderate lighting levels that replicate their natural habitats best.

You can use LED lights to create a more natural-looking environment but ensure that your fish have some shaded areas where they can retreat when needed.

To further enhance your African Butterfly Fish’s habitat, consider adding driftwood, rocks, or caves – just remember not to obstruct the top portion of the tank where they spend most of their time.

Creating an ideal home for these fish requires attention to detail, but nothing compares to seeing them thrive in a space designed exclusively for them.

By providing everything they need to feel comfortable and safe, you effectively serve these beautiful creatures who bring joy and peace into our lives daily.

Potential Diseases In African Butterfly Fish

It’s always a bummer when our aquatic pets get sick, and African Butterfly Fish is no exception.

Maintaining a stress-free atmosphere is critical for your Freshwater Butterfly Fish.

An unhealthy environment can lead to sickness, so give them a place to feel secure and content.

While they don’t have any specific diseases afflicting them more than other species, there are still plenty of common ailments to watch out for.

Causes can vary from water quality issues to poor nutrition, but it’s essential to recognize the symptoms to treat your fish as quickly as possible.

Common diseases include skin flukes, parasites, and infections. Treatment options range from medicated baths to antibiotics, depending on the severity of the illness.

However, prevention is key – keeping their tank clean and providing a varied diet with proper nutrients can go a long way in preventing these illnesses altogether.

So take care of those beautiful butterfly fish!

Diet And Feeding Recommendations For African Butterfly Fish

As mentioned earlier, these fish are predators and have specific dietary preferences. They enjoy meaty live food such as insects (most seductive are crickets) and feeder fish.

It’s important to note that they may refuse flakes and pellets.

To ensure your African Butterfly Fish is healthy and well-fed, it’s recommended to feed them 2-4 times a day, and this will give them plenty of opportunities to hunt for food as they would in the wild.

A consistent feeding schedule is also crucial in maintaining their health and happiness. Your African Butterfly Fish can thrive in its aquarium habitat with proper care and attention to their dietary needs.

Behavior And Temperament Of African Butterfly Fish

Observing African Butterfly Fish in action during feeding time is an exciting experience for any aquarium enthusiast.

These powerful swimmers will dart away after scarfing down their prey, leaving onlookers impressed by their lightning-fast movements.

However, it’s essential to note that these fish can be aggressive and territorial towards other tank mates.

African Butterfly Fish view the top area of the tank as theirs and may fight off competitors who threaten their food source or territory.

Choosing compatible tank mates carefully is crucial since smaller fish may become a target for these predators.

Despite their aggression levels, some aquarists have noted that African Butterfly Fish display social behavior when kept in groups with others of their species.

Suitable Tank Mates For African Butterfly Fish


It’s important to remember that the African Butterfly Fish is a predator and can be quite aggressive toward other fish species.

Therefore, choosing the right tank mates is crucial for their well-being.

When it comes to selecting suitable companions for your African Butterfly Fish, there are several options available.

Firstly, Rope Fish tend to work well as they occupy different tank areas and won’t compete with your butterfly fish for food or territory.

Secondly, Nerite Snails are great additions to any aquarium as they help keep algae at bay while being peaceful tank mates.

Lastly, Bristlenose Pleco makes excellent companions owing to their social behavior and compatibility with most freshwater species.

By opting for these three choices (Bristlenose Pleco, Nerite Snails, Cory Catfish), you’ll ensure that your African Butterfly Fish has plenty of space and will coexist peacefully with its tank mates without exhibiting any territorial aggression.

When creating an ideal environment for your African Butterfly Fish’s health and happiness – proper research on compatible tank mates should not be overlooked!

Breeding African Butterfly Fish

Breeding these fish in a home aquarium is possible with the right conditions and setup.

During spawning behavior, it’s essential to have floating plants near the surface of the water as this provides a place for the eggs to be laid and protected.

Once the eggs are laid, fry management becomes crucial.

Removing them from the parents’ tank is recommended so they don’t get eaten.

After about a week, the eggs hatch into tiny fry. Feeding them Daphnia is ideal for proper growth.

With patience and care, breeding African Butterfly Fish can be achieved successfully in your home aquarium.


In conclusion, African Butterfly Fish are beautiful and unique creatures that can add significantly to any aquarium.

As a virtual assistant, I have learned about their lifespan of up to 5 years and how they require specific water conditions to thrive.

It is important to provide them with plenty of hiding spots and live or frozen foods for their diet.

Regarding tankmates, peaceful species such as tetras and rasboras are ideal companions for these fish.

Breeding African Butterfly Fish may be challenging due to their selective breeding habits, but it can be accomplished with patience and the right conditions.

Taking proper care of these fascinating fish will reward you with stunning displays of aquatic beauty in your home.