Heterotilapia Buttikoferi 101

The Buttikoferi is an African cichlid that is often kept with American cichlids (Also known as the Zebra Tilapia). This fish is extremely aggressive and rather large, maximizing in size at around 16 inches. It makes sense why these guys are so tough they hang out in the same waters as the mighty hippopotamus.

Basics on the Buttikoferi

Buttikoferi are found in coastal rivers and streams near Guinea and Liberia. They have become increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby which has resulted in them being imported to different countries all over the world for the enjoyment of hobbyist. Characterized by their bold stripes, the Buttikoferi’s colors range from white with black stripes to a yellowish gold with black stripes.
**Buttikoferi are even used for food in some countries.

Keeping the Buttikoferi

If you’re considering bringing one of these guys home you want to make sure you have a 60 gallon aquarium at the bare minimum. You’d want to arrange your aquarium similar to the natural environment of the Buttikoferi. Use plenty of rocks and stones to create shelter and caves. At your local fish store the Zebra tilapia will be readily available; their tenacious personalities will stand out amongst other fish. As they mature they become less skittish and will interact with their owners quite a bit. From my personal experiences Buttikoferi are extremely species aggressive so be careful when keeping more than one of these fish together. Even if you intend to breed this species it can get tricky, because they are extremely difficult to sex with the males and females looking identical. Those who are successful at breeding Buttikoferi usually start with a group of young fish and allow them to pair off on their own. If you are able to get a breeding pair, you would be looking for the fish to begin clearing substrate creating a pit. Once the excavation is complete the female will the lay eggs and the co-parenting will start. Both the male and the female will become increasingly aggressive to protect their young. However as a note of caution watch the male intently they will protect their fry for a limited amount of time then all of a sudden they will view them as a snack. Be ready to remove the male if he begins attacking the fry and the female.
Appetite wise the Buttikoferi isn’t very picky at all they are good eaters and thrive on a diet consisting of both meaty and vegetation based foods. Like most cichlids live food is a nice treat every once in a while but be extremely careful feeding any of your fish feeder fish. Feeders can carry parasites that can make your prized fish pretty sick. Hole in head disease is not something you ever want to deal with.

The bottom line on the Buttikoferi: Amazing cichlid to keep, but be cautious if you’re looking for a community tank. These guys are aggressive but at the end of the day every fish has a different personality.