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Tilapia buttikoferi
Zebra Tilapia

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Zebra Tilapia - Tilapia buttikoferi

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Tilapia_buttikoferi_4.jpg (19kb)
Photo Credit: Eduardo Sachi

Just like every day before, a couple of years ago I went to the pet shop to see if he'd brought any new cichlid I would like. I saw in one of the aquariums some little guys with gold and black stripes! I fell in love with them at first site and I bought two. Then I got them in my tank which was 400 litres and the tankmates were an albino oscar of 22 cm, a tiger oscar of 15 cm, a Texas cichlid of 18 cm, a couple of severums of 19 cm and a couple of pacus of size similar to the tilapias (4 cm). The tilapias, after I left them free, were frightened. I watched them for a while and then went to sleep. The other day I was looking for my fishes and the pacus were missing. After 2 months the tilapias had really grown! They reached a size of 20 cm and killed all the other fishes except the oscars, because I had them moved to another aquarium. But I wanted the aquarium where the tilapias were to become a malawi cichlid tank, so I moved the tilapias to the oscars' aquarium (the oscars were now fully grown, 29-30 cm) and I was afraid that the oscars might kill the tilapias, but I was fooled. The same afternoon I found only the tiger oscar's head on the bottom and the albino oscar bitten all over its body (but still alive!). I saved the oscar and sold the tilapias the next day. It was a great experience to raise them (since they even spawned) and I am looking to find some of them since I gave them away. A terrific cichlid, a fascinating species!

Contributed by George Giannakis

A smart, colorful, and fun fish to keep. I have 5 of these fish, all housed separately. I have a female that is 27 cm, two males and a female at 23 cm each, and a last male at 10 cm. The two largest and most aggressive have their own 642 liter tanks. They are housed with Africans. They are tolerant but sometimes all hell breaks loose, especially with the largest T. Buttekoferi. This fish is a rewarding pet to own. I would love to breed them.

Contributed by John

I have a 38 cm, 6 year old male buttikoferi. He is an extremely aggressive and very intelligent fish. When I siphon the gravel he viciously attacks the hose. When they bite, believe it, it hurts and it draws blood. When my friends come in my room, he tries to attack them. These are extremely aggressive and beligerent fish. He has eaten the stomach out of my plecos. My advice is to save yourself a lot of time and effort and just keep them alone from the start. They are great fish.

Contributed by a visitor

I just wanted to tell you about an unusual tank mate for my Buttikoferi. I have a 280 liter tank I keep a couple African Cichlids in, and added an Oscar a few months ago. He was spoiled to be with everyone so we added him in this tank in the living-room where he would get more attention. I was a little afraid of doing so, but he loved it and is enjoying his new friends. As soon as we added our Oscar to the tank our Buttikoferi took right to Oscar and just won't leave his side. We had Pepper, (our Buttikoferi) for about 4 months at the time we added our Oscar, which we had for about 7 months. Whenever a fish gets close to our Oscar, Pepper will chase the others off. This is a strange friendship indeed, but really seems to be working fine. All are thriving so far even with the water preferences differing somewhat. Pepper, (Buttikoferi) is so defensive with the other Cichlids as far as her patrolling the waters, yet never once has attacked Oscar. Pepper and Oscar make for some truly interesting entertainment, we love them so. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but, I must say the Buttikoferi is a very diverse, intelligent and beautiful fish.

Contributed by a visitor

I used to own these as well, and I can honestly say they are without question my favorite aquarium cichlid. I had mine (3 at first, then down to a pair of breeders) in a 600 liter, aggressive tank with 2 red devils, 2 green terrors, and a shovelnose, tiger-stripped catfish. Although these fish can definitely hold their own, the dominant red devil was the most aggressive fish in the tank. At abut 20-23 cm, I noticed I had a breeding pair of Tilapias. During spawning, the male Tilapia was beating the hell out of anything and everything (red devil included) that came near their nest. The pair I had successfully bred twice, and while most of the offspring lived, their stripes, were blotchy and broken, so I never got really "into" breeding them. They are a beautiful fish, with tons of personality.

Contributed by Michael Skidmore

My experience with this fish has been nothing but good. I've had my buttikoferi for almost a year now in a 270 liter tank with various mbuna and some fish from other lakes. He was about 5 cm long when I first got him, one of my first cichlids. Soon after I got him my girlfriend named him Bug. Bug is about 15 cm long now and has never once attacked another fish, even the smaller ones which are around 3-4 cm. Bug is also very intelligent and hand tame, whenever I put my hand in the tank he will swim around my arm or just come really close and stare at my hand as if inspecting my work. He eats tubifex cubes right out of my fingers, taking small bites and never jerking the whole thing out of my grasp. Sometimes I'll just stick my fingers in the water and Bug will swim up and rub against them. About a month after I got him I found this page and saw all the comments saying that buttikoferi are vicious and will kill just about anything, but as I said I havn't seen this once and he is well past the 'sudden urdge to kill' phase of his growth that's been described. I believe that this is partly due to the fact that when I bought him, I had several other cichlids that were much larger and he grew up surrounded by stronger fish. But now that he is the biggest by far he still hasn't posed a threat to any of the others.

Contributed by Richard Bent

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