Care Guide for Clown Killifish – Colorful, Top-Dwelling Nano Fish
Looking for a colorful, little fish that stays in the upper third of your nano aquarium? Say hello to Epiplatys annulatus, also known as the clown killi, rocket killifish, and banded panchax. The males have a vibrant, flame-like tail and their body has alternating vertical bands that are dark brown and yellow. Adult killies can grow to as much as 1.4 inches (3.5cm) but the majority of fish in stores are around 0.5 inches long. These juveniles won’t display true red, yellow or blue colors until you bring them home to raise them to adulthood.
Female rocket killifish are brightly colored, while males have clear tails.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Clown Killifish
Rocket killies, due to their small size are one of few species that can be kept in 5-gallon tanks or larger. As with most surface-dwelling fish, the key is to keep a tight lid or hood with all of the gaps covered so that they won’t jump out of the aquarium. These fish were originally found in slow-moving swamps and streams near the west African coast. To protect them, you should use a gentle filter that has low flow (a sponge filter) with lots of floating plants.
Like most killifish, they can live in cooler temperatures ranging from 67-80degF (19-26degC), so you can keep them in an unheated aquarium with other cold water species. In fact, lowering the water temperature can help slow their metabolism and lengthen their life span, which is only about 2-3 years long.
What Tank Mates Can Live With Rocket Killifish?
Their brightly colored tails may make it tempting to get all males. But they can sometimes be territorial and will fight over each other. Instead, aim for a ratio of 1 male for every 2-3 females. The clowns will be more comfortable with their surroundings and can display their natural social behaviours.
They make great friends and are happy to share their space with peaceful fish. We have previously kept them celestial Pearl danios(Danio margaritatus), Norman Lampeye killifish (“Poropanchax norme”), chili rasboras (“Boraras brigade”), chili rasboras (“Boraras boritae”), pygmy Cory catfish (“Corydoras piygmaeus”), snails and other nano-species.
As with many killifish, the banded panchax tends to stay near the surface of the water, so consider adding some tank mates that swim in the middle to bottom layers of the aquarium for greater visual variety.
Can clown killifish live with a betta fish? It depends on the betta fish’s personality. Some bettas don’t like other colorful fish that swim in the top third of the aquarium, so rocket killies would not be a good pairing. Other betta fish don’t mind the extra company and will completely ignore them, so you can always try to house them together and then separate them if needed.
Can clown killifish live with dwarf shrimp? In general, clown killifish do not seem to eat adult dwarf shrimp, such as cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi), Caridina shrimp, and ghost shrimp. Baby shrimp are fine to eat, and we recommend not keeping them together if you intend on selling shrimp. Provide more aquarium decorations and live plants so that the shrimp will have plenty of places to hide if necessary.
What Do Clown Killifish Eat?
Due to their small mouths and preference to swim near the water’s surface, you can offer them a variety of tiny floating foods like Easy Fry Food, crushed flaflakes and freeze-dried daphnia. They will eat slow-sinking food, like frozen cyclops and Xtreme Nano pellets.
How do You Breed Rocket Killifish?
Breeding should not be difficult if you have the correct ratio of males and females, as I mentioned earlier. Clown killies will lay their eggs in areas with clean water and plenty of food. Keep the fry alive by keeping them in a specific species-only tank. The eggs can then be removed and hatched in a separate grow-out or breeding box. After the eggs hatch, you can then feed them tiny foods such as infusoria and vinegar eels.
Use dense floating plants to encourage spawning and provide more cover for the babies if you plan on colony breeding (i.e., keeping the adults together with the fry).
Clown killifish are one of our favorite nano fish because of their peaceful nature and striking appearance that looks amazing in a planted aquarium. You can find more ideas on how to stock a 5-gallon fish aquarium with clown killifish by visiting our top 5 stocking tips.