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Tank Size for a Butterkoferi Cichlid

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The butterkoferi cichlid is one one of the handful of African cichlids who do not hail from the African Great Lakes in the Rift Valley. The butterkoferi is a type of tilapia, a group of cichlids popular as food fish. However, this striped cichlid species can make a handsome aquarium fish in a large enough aquarium.

Aquarium Size

The recommendation for tilapia in the aquarium ranges from a minimum of 40 gallons to 70 gallons. Butterkoferi fall around the middle of the size range for tilapia cichlids, so consider 50 gallons per fish their minimum. Butterkoferi grow to about a foot long and are quite territorial, so they need more space than other fish of the same size might. Keep in mind that larger aquariums usually work better for fish, since larger aquariums are more forgiving in terms of maintenance, especially for large fish like the butterkoferi.

Tank Mates

You have to carefully pick tank mates for Butterkoferis. These cichlids get large and have a predatory streak, meaning they will readily make a snack of smaller fish. On top of this, they have a territorial demeanor, not unusual for large cichlids. They can share an aquarium with robust fish such as barbs, catfish and other semi-aggressive West African cichlids of similar size. Several Butterkoferi cichlids can share an aquarium, provided it has at least 50 gallons of aquarium volume for each fish. They are not as aggressive as some large cichlids; several males can share a tank if you give them enough room.

Water Chemistry

Butterkoferi tilapias are not particular about water chemistry. They come from a wider geographic range than African lake cichlids, so they have adapted to a wider variety of water parameters. They do require tropical conditions with a water temperature above 74 degrees Fahrenheit. These fish will thrive at a pH range between 6.0 and 8.0 without any problems.

Aquarium Setup

You should create an aquarium with hiding places for your Butterkoferi. Butterkoferi cichlids will eat plants and are notorious diggers. This means you probably need to avoid live plants; even plastic plants may require frequent replanting. Instead, decorate their aquarium with rocks and driftwood. If you keep more than one of these tilapia, it becomes even more important to include decorations, since the cichlids will use decorations as "landmarks" to decide where one fish's territory ends and another's begins. Keep the water above 74 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH between 6 and 8. Other than this, the Butterkoferi is not particular about water chemistry.


Fish farmers often keep tilapia outdoors when raising them for food. However, fish farms that raise tilapia are usually located in the tropics. Cichlids in general do not adapt well to the cold, and this species is no acceptation. Other than certain parts of Florida, most of the United States gets too cold for these fish in the winter, unless you have a heated pond. If you have an indoor or heated pond, this might be a better option for your fish than an aquarium, since ponds usually have greater space than the average aquarium.