Top 5 Colorful Killifish That Every Fish Keeper Should Try
Killifish are one of the most colorful fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby, but with such an amazing array of hues and patterns, why aren’t they as popular as livebearers or African cichlids? Veteran fishkeepers will tell ya that killifish are top-dwelling fish and love to jump out of water. To prevent them from escaping, you need a tight-fitting lid. Annual killifish can be difficult to keep, as they only live a few weeks after hatching. Not all species live such short lives. We have put together a list of our favourite killies to help you get started.
1. Clown Killifish
Coming in at a mere 1.4 inches (3.5 cm), the clown killi is the most petite killifish on our list and can live in nano tanks as small as 5 gallons. They are known as the “banded panchax” because of their distinct, vertical bands of dark brown and tannish-yellow, and they are also called the “rocket killifish” because the male has a striking, flame-like tail. As with most of the killifish in this article, they enjoy slightly cooler waters between 67-79degF (19-26degC) and may forgo an aquarium heater, depending on your room temperature.
We like to get a group of six clown killies – ideally two males and four females – so that we can breed them. Place a DIY spawning mop in the aquarium, and condition them for spawning by feeding lots of tiny foods like frozen cyclops, live baby brine shrimp, and nano pellets. Place the eggs in a separate tank or a breeding box to keep them from being eaten by the adults. For more details, read our full care guide.
2. Orange Australe Killifish
This color variety of the lyretail pax is well-known for its vibrant orange body, red spots, and long tail. They can grow to a length of 2.5 inches (6 cm), which is enough to keep a pair in a 10-20 gallon aquarium. With a larger fish tank, multiple pairs and trios can be kept together. Because they have bigger mouths, they can easily eat bloodworms, Vibra Bites, frozen brine shrimp, and other meaty fish foods.
If you plan to keep your killies in a community aquarium with other tank mates, use a spawning mop to remove their eggs for hatching. If you want to keep a colony of them together in a single species aquarium, add dense aquarium plants (e.g. Pogostemon.stellatus octopus or floating water sprite) to conceal the eggs. Their numbers will naturally increase as they mature.
3. Gardneri Killifish
It’s difficult to describe the kaleidoscope of colors embodied in this 2.5-inch (6 cm) fish because the males can range from a pale pink to blue-green to purple sheen with prominent red dots all over. They are one of the easiest species to spawn, provided they are kept in cool temperatures and protected from predators. They have bigger mouths than you think and may even eat tiny fish, so don’t put them with smaller nano species. Males can be very aggressive, so keep them away from other fish and use taller decorations and lots of aquarium plants. Additional shelter can help babies survive. Feed the fry plenty of live baby brine shrimp so that they will grow big and healthy, and you should have no problem selling these gorgeous killies to your local fish store or other hobbyists.
4. Blue Gularis Killifish
The longest killi on our roster grows to approximately 4-5 inches (10-13cm), and comes with an ornery personality. The males are predominantly blue and have dense clusters with red dots and vertical stripes. Their tails also have an orange band running down the middle. If you want to ensure that the male doesn’t bother the female, keep a pair of these fish in a 29-gallon or larger aquarium. There will be plenty of ornaments and aquatic plants for cover. Similar to the garderni killifish this species loves meat and will happily eat bloodworms and brine shrimp as well as smaller nano fish. You might have to look for them in fish shops, local aquarium societies, online retailers, or online auction sites like AquaBid.
5. Golden Wonder Killifish
This gorgeous, golden-yellow fish can also be a larger killifish and can reach 3-4 inches (8-10cm). They are quite active and affordable. They can be kept with medium-sized tank mates, such as blood parrot and cichlids. They are popular pets in big pet shops due to their ability to survive in all water conditions. As with the other larger killies, they enjoy a mostly carnivorous diet and will go after your nano fish and dwarf shrimp if they fit in their mouths.
Killifish are extremely colorful and rival the vibrancy of saltwater fish. Just be aware that they tend to live for about 2-5 years, depending on the species, so lower the temperature to extend their life span and keep passively breeding them to enjoy them for as long as possible. You can view our preferred online retailers list to see what fish they have in stock, even though we don’t ship live fish.