Tanganyikan Butterfly Cichlid (Xenotilapia papilio)

Send your inquiry of Tanganyikan Butterfly Cichlid (Xenotilapia papilio) to our email :


The Tanganyikan Butterfly Xenotilapia papilio has an unusual but pretty appearance. This is a small delicate looking cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, Africa. It is a more recent addition to the cichlid hobby, having just been described in 1990. It was discovered by the German Heinz H. Buscher while he was diving on the eastern side of the lake.

It has an elongated body shape with delicate looking fins, a long flat head, and a downward pointing snout. The largest reported size is about 4 inches (10 cm) in length, though it more commonly grows to only about 3 inches (7.8 cm). Its feathery finnage and pleasing colors likening it to both an attractive butterfly and a sunflower. Its body coloring overall is a soft gray to light brown dotted with some silvery blue spots. The head is usually yellow and the fins will sport various amount of yellow or blue.

The patterning on the dorsal fin is most striking and there are two distinct color patterns. One is the site type Tembwe Deux which will have varying amounts of black spotting, sometimes looking like a peacock’s eye. The other is a geographic variant from Zambia with varying degrees of pale yellow on the dorsal fin and virtually no black markings, and is known as the Xenotilapia sp. “Papilio Sunflower”. This designation is usually followed with the name of the region in which they are found. Some of the best known varieties are Xenotilapia papilio “Msalaba”, Xenotilapia papilio “Isanga”, Xenotilapia papilio “Tembwe II”, and Xenotilapia papilio “Kanoni”.

Along with its elegant appearance this cichlid has some intriguing behaviors. Their spawning dances and joint parental mouth brooding are a rewarding site for the attentive aquarist, as are their feeding activities. The Xenotilapia genus contain species that inhabit two types of environments. They are either more of a sand-dwelling species or more rock-dwelling. The Tanganyikan Butterfly is a rock-dweller. While sand dwellers will push through the sand with their long snout to get at crustaceans hiding within, this cichlid rummages through fine sand and detritus covering the rocks.

This cichlid makes a great specimen for the advanced aquarist as it is moderate to difficult to care for. They are very sensitive to handling and water quality. They can be kept as pairs and form a strong pair bond. However if keeping more than one pair, they can be very aggressive among themselves, especially when breeding. Placing rocks in a way to block their visibility of other pairs helps with aggression. They will tolerate those of a different genus that occupy other levels in the tank, but they do not do well when occupying the same level in the tank with other fish. To prevent stress, avoid including other aggressive species that also stay in the lower levels.

Stocklist of our Cichlids Fish (Click the picture below) :

Cichlids Stocklist

cichlids indofishexporter.jpg

Video of Tanganyikan Butterfly Cichlid (Xenotilapia papilio)

Infographic of Tanganyikan Butterfly Cichlid (Xenotilapia papilio)

Stocklist of our Tropical Fish / Aquarium Fish / Ornamental Fish (Click the picture below) :

Angel Fish Stocklist

angelfish indofishexporter.jpg

Bettas Stocklist

bettas indofishexporter.jpg

Brackish Stocklist

brackish indofishexporter

Catfish Stocklist

catfish indofishexporter.jpg

Cichlids Stocklist

cichlids indofishexporter.jpg

Corydoras Stocklist

corydoras indofishexporter.jpg

Danios Stocklist

danios indofishexporter.jpg

Discus Stocklist

discus indofishexporter

Gouramis Stocklist

gouramis indofishexporter.jpg

Guppies Stocklist

guppy indofishexporter.jpg

Loaches Stocklist

LOACHES indofishexporter.jpg

Mollies Stocklist

MOLLIES indofishexporter.jpg

Platies Stocklist

PLATIES indofishexporter.jpg

Sharks Stocklist

SHARKS indofishexporter.jpg

Tetras Stocklist

TETRAS indofishexporter.jpg

Shrimps Stocklist (NEW!)

SHRIMPS indofishexporter.jpg

Plants Stocklist (NEW!)

PLANTS indofishexporter.jpg


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s