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. The “banded Panchax” is their distinctive vertical bands of dark brown, tannishyellow and dark brown. They are also known as the “rocket Killifish” due to the striking flame-like tail and the fact that the males are so large. 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 prefer to have six clown killies, preferably two males and four women, so we can breed them. Install a DIY spawning mat in your aquarium. Then, condition the fish for spawning using tiny food like nano pellets, baby brine shrimp, frozen cyclops, and live baby brine shrimp. 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 variant of the lyretail panax is known for its bright orange body and red spotting. It also has a tail with long tips. 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. Multiple pairs or trios can be kept together in a larger aquarium. They are able to eat Vibrabites, bloodworms, and frozen brine shrimps because their mouths are larger.
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. To hide them, you can add dense aquarium plants to your species-only set (e.g. floating water sprite or Pogostemon.stellatus.octopus) and watch their numbers increase.
3. Gardneri Killifish
The kaleidoscope colors found in this 2.5-inch (6-cm) fish are difficult to describe. Males can be pale pink, blue-green, purple sheen and have prominent red spots all over. We personally find them to be one of the easiest killies to spawn as long as you keep them in cooler temperatures, have a tight aquarium lid, and feed meaty foods. They are larger than you might think. They may even eat small fish so avoid placing them with nano-species. Males can be very aggressive, so keep them away from other fish and use taller decorations and lots of aquarium plants. Extra shelter will help your babies survive. To ensure healthy growth, give your fry plenty of baby brine shrimp. You should be able sell these delicious killies to your local fish market 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 bluish with dense clusters and vertical stripes of red dots. The tails have an attractive orange band that runs down the middle. A pair of these males should be kept in a 29-gallon aquarium with enough ornaments and aquatic plants to provide cover. Similar to the garderni killifish this species loves meat and will happily eat bloodworms and brine shrimp as well as smaller nano fish. They may be a little harder to find, so trying sourcing them from fish stores, your local aquarium society, online retailers, and 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 active and not very expensive. They can live with medium-sized tank mates such as bala sharks or blood parrot cichlids. Because of their toughness and ability to adapt to a variety of water conditions, many pet stores sell them. Like the larger animals, they are mostly carnivorous and will take in your dwarf shrimp and nano fish if they’re small enough.
Killifish can be as colorful as saltwater fish and are very vibrant. They live approximately 2-5 years depending on the species. Keep them at a lower temperature to extend their lifespan and keep them bred passively to ensure they are as happy 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.