Max Size: 8cm

African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi)

Unlike other Cichlid species, the African Butterfly Cichlid, Anomalochromis thomasi, is peaceful. Cichlids of this species are somewhat sociable and are best maintained in small groups, preferably with equal numbers of males and females. In captivity, they are rather retiring, like most Dwarf Cichlids. Any undesirable shyness will be effectively eliminated with an abundant cover of floating plants and the use of appropriate dither fish.

If you are a beginner aquarist and would like to keep dwarf cichlids, African Butterfly Cichlids are an excellent choice. Once accustomed to your aquarium, these Cichlids are peaceful, relatively undemanding, easily bred, and quite attractive.

Dwarf Gouramis, small Rainbowfish, small Barbs, Corydoras Catfish, small Loricariids, Tetras and Rasboras, as well as other Dwarf Cichlids, are ideal tankmates for the African Butterfly Cichlid. However, for breeding pairs to be harmonious, you must ensure that their tanks are large enough; otherwise, they will become cramped and aggressive with each other.

When selecting dither fish for African Butterfly Cichlids, avoid fast-swimming species such as Congo Tetras, Giant Danios, or larger Barbs because they can often outcompete them at feeding time and can be pretty boisterous in nature.

African Butterfly Cichlids won't uproot plants, unlike other Cichlid species. Instead, it will successfully coincide with rooted vegetation even during periods of sexual activity.

The African Butterfly Cichlid appears relatively slim from above or from the front. Their bodies are pale bronze with iridescent blueish-silver highlights under their eyes and on their scales. In addition to the silvery-grey colour of the head, there is usually a silver "flash" under the eyes. Depending on the lighting, the gill plates are iridescent silver with gold and reddish brown hints.

On the fish's body, there are eight rows of pearl-like dots running horizontally from the gill plates to the caudal peduncle. In addition, there are two false eyespots on the African Butterfly Cichlid; one is located in the middle of the body and the other at the back of the caudal peduncle, which is always situated along the spine's line.

The tips of their fins may also be reddish-brown in colour. A silver tint tends to cover the rays, and hyaline fins appear between the rays. Generally, the ventral and pectoral fins are transparent.


African Butterfly Cichlid
Quick Facts
Scientific NameAnomalochromis thomasi
Year Described1915
Other NamesNone
OriginsGuinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Lifespanup to 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH3 - 12
TDS18 - 268
73 - 80℉
22.8 - 26.7℃


In the home aquarium, the African Butterfly Cichlid will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

When African Butterfly Cichlids are juveniles, it isn't easy to differentiate between males and females. As adults, however, the difference is apparent. Females are smaller, rounder, and have a more defined colouration than males. Contrary to females, males are larger, and their dorsal and anal fins are longer and pointier at their rear tips, whereas females are more rounded, and their black markings are less distinct.

Other Cichlids of interest

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Blue Panda Apistogramma(Apistogramma panduro, Apistogramma pandurini)
Bolivian Ram Cichlid(Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
Checkerboard Cichlid(Dicrossus filamentosus)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid(Apistogramma cacatuoides)
Convict Cichlid(Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
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Date Added: 29/03/2021 - Updated: 23/08/2022 10:58:58