Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 6.5-8 and Moderately Hard to Hard
Temperature: 70-80F (21-27 C)
Maximum Size: 3 inches (7.5cm)
Butterfly Goodeids (Ameca Splendens), also known as Butterfly Splitfins are a bony fish that were once found throughout the Ameca River drainage, but are currently listed as extinct in the wild. This designation could be outdated though, as there have been reports of a remnant populations being discovered in of all things, a Mexican waterpark. There have also been unconfirmed reports of feral populations in the United States, most likely the result of aquarium releases and escapes.
Ameca splendens were once quite popular in the aquarium trade, but in recent years its popularity has drastically declined. You will only rarely ever see them at aquarium stores, and then only at the larger ones that carry more exotic types of fish. You may occasionally see them in online ads, and some dedicated breeders do exist, but overall they are very rare in the hobby.
If you do happen to come across this fish, it makes a fantastic addition to any fish collection. Once it reaches adulthood, it develops a unique coloration, and is an excellent beginner fish for anyone looking to get into goodieds. They are also an excellent choice if you are looking for a fish that thrives in hard water, but don’t have the space or money for African Cichlids.
Ameca splendens generally live for 2-3 years in the home aquarium, and can grow up to 3 inches in length (with pregnant females being absolutely massive). The males are easy to identify and grow a yellow vertical stripe on the end of their tail upon reaching sexual maturity.
Ameca splendens do best in a species only tank, but will also do well in a tank with semi-aggressive community fish like tiger barbs. While their reputation as fin nippers is somewhat exaggerated, Ameca splendens may harass any docile fish that they share an aquarium with. This can be disastrous for slow moving, peaceful fish like mollies, who will suffer extensive damage to their fins and tails if they are left with Ameca splendens for any significant amount of time.
A minimum of 10 gallons should be provided for Ameca splendens, but 20 gallons is preferred due to the fact that some males can be aggressive. You should also take into consideration the number of fry that will be born, when you keep goodeids. They produce large numbers of fry every few weeks, and there is zero predation on the new born fry by adult fish. This can lead to an overcrowded tank quickly, if you don’t start with an adequately large tank.
When deciding on a filter for Ameca splendens, you should always choose the best filter that you can afford. While a canister filter is usually the best choice, a high quality hang-on-back filter, or a sponge filter will keep the water sparking clean in most cases. A hang-on-back filter combined with a sponge filter in a tank is an especially effective way of keeping the water exceptional clean.
I would strongly recommend choosing an Aquaclear Power Filter for a butterfly splitfin tank. This filter combines excellent filtration with a durable design, and it will keep your tank sparkling clear for years to come. You can also read the Aquarium Tidings Aquaclear Filter Review here.
Ameca splendens are incredibly easy to feed, and will voraciously devour almost anything that is offered to them. Their main diet should consist of a high quality flake food combined with a spirulina based pellet. Two of the best foods to feed to them are Hikari Spirulina Floating Pellets and New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula. They should also be fed frozen foods as a treat, with their favorites being blackworms, daphina, blood worms and brine shrimp.
In the wild, they tend to eat vast amounts of algae and this diet needs to be reproduced in the home aquarium. Unless of course you want your live plants to start having small bite shaped holes appear in them. In order to provide them with a natural diet of plant material and algae, you should provide a strong light to aid in the growth of algae, and offer blanched zuchinni medallions, cucumber or shelled peas on a regular basis.
One of the greatest benefits of Ameca splendens, is that they are one of the only commercially available fish that will eat hair algae. A few of these fish placed in tank completely overgrown with hair algae, will devour every last strand of hair algae within a week. They continually feed on any hair algae available, and will strip clean plants, ornaments and substrate covered in this extremely annoying, and tenacious algae.
Like the far more common live-bearers, goodeids are extremely easy to breed. All that is required is good water quality, a male, a female and a few weeks later you will have hordes of babies.
Their breeding method is very similar to live-bearers, with courtship taking place between the male and female, and sperm being deposited into the female. While most live-bearers can store sperm for long periods of time, Ameca splendens are unable to store sperm, and must mate each time to become pregnant.
The eggs are then internally gestated for 6-10 weeks, at the end of which, highly developed fry are born. Goodieds are unique among fish, in that the female provides nutrients to the young through an umbilical cord like structure, and the fry are born at an unusually large size. It’s not unusual for a 3 inch mature female to give birth to a ¾ inch fry. Due to their sheer size, females don’t give birth to many fry at a time, but their large size ensures that there is virtually no predation in a community fish tank.
Because of the high survival rate for the Ameca splendens fry, even an extremely large tank will be overrun within a matter of months. If you plan on allowing this fish to breed, you need to plan on how to deal with the young. Of course with this fish being so rare and unique, it’s usually quite easy to find someone to take the excess fish off of your hands.