African Monodactylus Sebae (African moony)

African Monodactylus Sebae

Last updated on August 6th, 2022 at 06:25 am

African monodactylus sebae (commonly known as the African moony) is one of the most commonly seen butterfly species in South Africa. However, despite its popularity, it has surprisingly never been studied or even fully described until very recently.

The African moony was first scientifically described in 1994 by the late Dr. Norman Platnick and his team at the American Museum of Natural History, but only after years of research into what many butterfly enthusiasts considered nothing more than just another moony.

The African Monodactylus Sebae is a popular saltwater tropical fish that originates from the West African coastal sea. The bright pink and blue markings on its body make it stand out from other saltwater tropical fish, and many beginner aquarists choose it to be their first saltwater tropical fish in an aquarium because of its popularity.

It is the most well-known of the moony tetras, because it’s just so striking with its silvery scales and bright tail fin. This fish grows to about 10 inches long and gets its name from the coloration of its dorsal fin, which actually looks like it has one toe missing—hence, monodactylus, meaning one finger in Greek.

Origin and descriptions

African Monodactylus Sebae

This fish is native to Lake Tanganyika, which is located in Africa. It has a small mouth and a big body; its color can vary depending on its habitat and diet. The African monodactylus sebae lives in depths of up to thirty feet, which means that it isn’t often fished for food or bait.

It’s sometimes used as an aquarium fish, but only occasionally and usually with difficulty because they are difficult to breed in captivity. They have very few predators in their natural environment, so there is little danger of them being over-fished. Their populations are not threatened at present. There are several different types of fish that share similar habitats and features, such as tigerfish and leopardfish.

Mono argentus (Silver Moony Fish)

However, these species are not closely related genetically to monodactylus sebae. In fact, some experts believe that these other fish actually belong to another genus entirely. All in all, these organisms aren’t incredibly common or well-known—but if you find yourself fishing for them in Africa, you might want to bring one home!

Species profile

African Monodactylus Sebae belongs to the family of Monodactylidae, a group of fish that are known for their unique single-toed fins. They can be found in coastal waters in eastern Africa. This species is most commonly found along rocky coasts and coral reefs where they feed on algae and small invertebrates. The average size for an adult is around 7 inches but there have been reports of them growing up to 9.8 inches long.


The African monodactylus sebae can be found throughout parts of Africa. These animals prefer to live in forests and grasslands, which help to contribute to their coloration.

The small body size of these animals helps them avoid predators by giving them a speed advantage. However, they do have relatively small wingspans and will often fall prey to birds with higher flying speeds.

African Monodactylus Sebae size

These fish species can grow up to 9.8 inches (25 cm) in length.

Tank size

African Monodactylus Sebae

The minimum recommended tank size is 30 gallons (113 liters)

Tank requirements

A tank is required for an African Monodactylus Sebae, although it is more than possible to keep one in a fishbowl or small tank. A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended, but if you are only planning on keeping one do not go larger than 20 gallons.

Plants that grow tall such as Java Ferns and Amazon Swords can prove useful for hiding among. Floating plants such as Anacharis are also useful for providing shade and protecting from any harsh lighting conditions. If you have live plants be sure to use fertilizers sparingly as they can easily be sucked up by your fish.

Violet Goby (Gobioides broussonnetii)

Live plants will provide your African Monodactylus Sebae with extra cover and places to hide so make sure they stay healthy by giving them plenty of light and CO2 injection. If kept in a smaller tank than suggested above, it is best to add multiple specimens so they have each other for company and don’t become stressed out by their surroundings.

Tank mates

The African Moony can be kept with most fish and is a good option for beginner aquarists. It’s best to keep only one per tank because they become stressed by others of their kind. Avoid keeping it with overly aggressive or territorial fish such as large cichlids, loaches, and catfish. Good tank mates include other small peaceful fish such as tetras and dwarf cichlids.

Other good tankmates for the African Moony are Archerfish, Mollies, and Colombian Shark Catfish.


African Monodactylus Sebae

The African Monodactylus Sebae is an egg-laying species, without a larval stage. The breeding season for monodactylus sebae is in early summer to late fall, and does not involve complex courtship rituals or a long mating period. Typically, Females lay 15,000 or more eggs over a 2-week period.

Eggs will hatch within two weeks of being laid, with the fry becoming free swimming after another week. Fry can be fed baby brine shrimp or finely ground flake food from birth until they reach about 1/2 inch in length, at which point, they can be fed larger foods such as microworms and daphnia. It takes 6 months for them to reach sexual maturity, at which point, they will begin breeding on their own.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

When being handled roughly, they can be very aggressive and even fight to get away from you. Many people have been attacked or bitten by an African Monodactylus Sebae because of their aggressive behavior when handled roughly. This shouldn’t discourage you from getting one though, if you want a cool pet that is different than anything else out there, then getting one would be great.

Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus)

African Monodactylus Sebae care

African Monodactylus Sebae

The African monodactylus sebae commonly go by many names such as moonfish, mono-moony, or Somali moonfish. There are only two subspecies of moony fish; these are africanum and sebae both living mainly in Southern Africa.

Despite their similarities, they have some key differences that separate them from one another. The African monodactylus sebae is a very unique species of fish, they do not have any scales like most other types of fish but instead, have a thin layer of skin covering their body that allows them to breathe through it.

This also makes them more susceptible to parasites and disease so it’s important for you to keep an eye out for any signs that your pet may be sick.

African monodactylus sebae diet

The moonfish feeds mainly on zooplankton. Zooplankton is a collective term for tiny aquatic animals and their larvae that drift or swim in oceans, seas, and bodies of freshwater. Some common types of zooplankton are copepods, cladocerans, euphausiids, ostracods, marine worms (annelids), shrimps, and krill.

Moonfish also eat small fish such as anchovies and sardines when they are available. They will also feed on crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp when these are available to them. They have even been known to feed on squid at times as well.


They can live up to 7-10 years when cared for properly.

Parasites and diseases

Parasites are a common health problem in tropical and subtropical regions, including Africa. These parasitic worms tend to live in your pet’s intestine, although some parasites burrow their way into other organs, like the lungs or brain.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, many of these parasites are zoonotic—meaning that humans can be infected by them as well.


African monodactylus sebae are an important part of a healthy ecosystem because they provide food for fish, whales, turtles, birds, and other marine life.

Green Spotted Puffer Fish - Tetraodon nigroviridis

Do African monodactylus sebae make good pets?

The African monodactylus sebae, also known as an African moony, is found in rivers and estuaries in western Africa. Like many marine fish, it spends most of its time around sandbanks. The long-flowing fins can aid in survival because they move oxygen to vital organs and aid locomotion.

Despite its popularity as a pet fish and general availability in stores, their habitat is becoming increasingly difficult to find due to pollution and overfishing. If you do decide to purchase one, make sure that you are prepared for them to grow up to 10 inches in length.

They are highly territorial so only one should be kept per tank. It is recommended that they be fed small pieces of shrimp or other meaty foods several times a day. They tend not to eat flake food or pellets but will accept them if nothing else is available.