Pantodon buchholzi, Freshwater butterflyfish : aquarium

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Pantodon buchholzi Peters, 1876

Freshwater butterflyfish
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Pantodon buchholzi
Picture by Muséum-Aquarium de Nancy/B. Alenda

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Osteoglossiformes (Bony tongues) > Pantodontidae (Freshwater Butterflyfish)
Etymology: Pantodon: Greek, pan = all + Greek, odous = teeth (Ref. 45335);  buchholzi: Named after Professor Dr. Buchholz, collector of the type specimens (Ref. 53310).
More on author: Peters.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Freshwater; pelagic; potamodromous (Ref. 51243). Tropical; 23°C - 30°C (Ref. 13371)

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

West and Central Africa: Nigeria, Lake Chad, Cameroon, Ogowe basin, Congo basin and upper Zambezi River (Ref. 2921, Ref. 3515). Eastern distribution limit seems to be the Ouémé River in Benin (Ref. 1989, Ref. 3019), although it is also reported from the Jong River in Sierra Leone (Ref. 2921).

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 11.9 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 52030)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 6; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 9 - 15. Compressed body, flattened on the dorsal side and head, careened on the ventral side behind the pelvic fins (Ref. 2921, Ref. 13851). Large mouth, with numerous teeth and a prominent lower jaw (Ref. 2921), upwardly directed (Ref. 3054, Ref. 42873). Short dorsal fin placed very posterior on the back (Ref. 2921), inserted behind the longer anal fin (Ref. 3054, Ref. 13851). Large development of the pectoral fins (Ref. 2921, Ref. 3054), enlarged and wing-like (Ref. 42873). Very advanced position of the pelvic fins, with 4 elongated, filamentous rays (Ref. 2921, Ref. 3054). The caudal fin is long, pointed and rather ragged, with the two centre rays the longest (Ref. 13851). Large cycloid scales (Ref. 2921), subcircular, with rounded but evident laterobasal angles (Ref. 53264): 26-30 lateral line scales, 21-26 predorsal scales (Ref. 52030, Ref. 52046). Extremely brilliant colored (Ref. 2921): dorsal side of the body olive-colored, ventral side silvery yellow amplified with carmine; sometimes with darker transversal bands on the back (Ref. 2921, Ref. 3032). The fins are vivid pink-colored with small brown-violet spots, forming transversal bands on the pectoral fins, and tinted with violet on the inside and extremities (Ref. 2921).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Obligate air-breathing (Ref. 126274); Pantodon buchholzi is a creature from calm waters (Ref. 51626). It lives in swamps, creeks and backwaters (Ref. 31256), and inhabits the calmer parts of rivers (Ref. 41580), where it can be seen on the surface waters (Ref. 4910). They are capable to jump out of the water, to search for insects or to escape from predators (Ref. 2921). It is not a glider, but a ballistic jumper (Ref. 52282), with a tremendous jumping power (Ref. 31256). It is an exophageous insectivore, feeding on terrestrial insects and aquatic larvae and nymphs of insects (Ref. 41580). It also feeds on crustaceans and fish (Ref. 7020). Introduced in 1905 to European aquarists (Ref. 51626, Ref. 53207). Pantodon buchholzi is a favorite fish for aquarists; in the aquarium it can rest with the top of the head and the large pectoral fins touching the surface, while the long rays of the pelvic fin hang down perpendicularly, forming a tempting morsel for other aggressive fish in the same tank, and therefore it should be stocked together with only bottom dwellers (Ref. 13851). Observed maximum length of 15.0 cm TL in aquarium (Ref. 2921, Ref. 3515).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

It lays 80 to 220 eggs (Ref. 13371). The eggs have a diameter of about 1.5 mm (Ref. 41580).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Teugels, G.G., 1990. Pantodontidae. p. 116-118. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres de l'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. 28. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2921)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 05 June 2019


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: commercial
FAO - Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

Common names
Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

AFORO (otoliths) | Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | BOLDSystems | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes: genus, species | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | FAO - Publication: search | Faunafri | Fishipedia | Fishtrace | GenBank: genome, nucleotide | GloBI | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | Public aquariums | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | Socotra Atlas | Tree of Life | Wikipedia: Go, Search | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoobank | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 1.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01122 (0.00514 - 0.02450), b=3.04 (2.87 - 3.21), in cm total length, based on all LWR estimates for this body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.6   ±0.52 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Fec = 80-220).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low vulnerability (10 of 100).