Name: Tilapia buttikoferi
Origin: West Africa
This fish is VICIOUS. I have one with a Motaguense and a Convict, and he darts at the convict all day and the motaguense always runs from a confrontation. He's always picking up gravel and moving it into piles. It is a very attractive fish in color and swimming habits. And definitely VERY AGGRESSIVE.
I set-up a 140 L tank and this Tilapia was the first fish I introduced (along with 3 giant danios). He is very non-aggressive towards the other Africans I introduced, not to mention the two gouramis. One of his favorite past-times in swimming among the Amazon Sword. Like most cichlids the tilapia has unpredictable behaviors and each person needs to observe the fish's personality.
I have 3 Tilapia buttikoferis that are 8, 20, and 25 cm in size. They are pretty aggressive, but not as much as Red Devils, Managuenses, Doviis, or Trimacs. Not from my experience anyways. They don't need a high pH like other african cichlids. They're not picky eaters. I've read they can reach 40 cm in aquaria. I'm hoping mine get that big. :-)
These beautiful africans are one of the largest aficans with a size of 40 cm not being uncommon. Generally they are very aggressive, even attacking plecos, but as with everything there are always exceptions to the rule. A beautiful large fish, but beware. I have my hornet cichlid in an 800 L tank with a jaguar and (until recently) a red terror, with 2 pacu's and various catfish. He, like the other 2, are very aggressive but concentrate more on my 2 large pacus than on each other. A very attractive fish that likes to eat every type of food such as large floating hikari pellets and blocks of frozen and freeze dried foods.
I have for many years found the buttikoferi to be one of the most interesting fish I have ever had the pleasure of owning. The zebra tilapia are found in Lake Victoria and the rivers that run into the lake. I would consider them to be much hardier than the average African "mbuna." They are my favorite because of their aggressive nature, and seemingly higher than normal intelligence. For those who have the zebra tilapia in their tank, and think or say that it is "getting along OK with the other fish"...think again. It is most likely that the tilapia is not feeling threatened or is of "MUCH" smaller size than its tankmates. I had a tilapia that once quickly removed the lips of a larger red devil in minutes while I was away from the tank, and many other buttikoferi that have all displayed very similar behavior. They were removed from all other fish and isolated, which is just how they like it. They are a beautiful fish and I greatly recommend them to any cichlid enthusiast, just keep them alone. :)
I have had a buttikoferi for about a year now. He has grown nearly 15 cm and is about 30 cm long now. Before I put him in a 170 liter tank by himself, I was breeding Pseudotropheus zebra's and about 8 of them escaped into the undergravel filtration. Well 6 months later I re-arrange the tank (with the buttikoferi still in it) and I shifted the undergravel filter, and out came 4 african cichlids. I put some rocks and hiding spots near the opening of the undergravel filter, and the cichlids continue to live in the undergravel filter and feed regularly with the buttikoferi. He does not seem to care and recognizes that he shares a home with them. I'm sure if I put anything over 8 cm in there he would be pissed. I have a rubber ducky floating at the top of his tank that he attacks constantly. He will also catch a rubber ball in his mouth if you throw it in his tank (Bouncy balls work best). I've also taught him how to play tug of war with a rope and a knot tied on the end. Sometimes I dip it in blood worms for him :). He is also EXTREMELY aggressive to anyone who nears the glass (except me - very smart fish) and to the other fish in the tank next to his. If you want to have a single specimen tank, I recommend getting a big tank and growing one of these guys up.