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. Also, annual killifish can be harder to keep because they only live for a few months after you hatch their eggs. Thankfully, not all species have such short lives, so to help you get started, we have compiled a list of our favorite killies that are easy to find, care for, and breed in your home aquarium.
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. Because of their distinctive, vertically-arranged dark brown and yellow-yellow bands, they are called “banded panchax”. The male has a striking, flamelike 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. Once you spot eggs in the mop, place the eggs in a breeding box or separate grow-out tank to prevent the adults from eating them. 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. 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. 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
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. These fish are easy to breed, as long as they are kept cool, protected by a lid and fed meaty food. 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. You can feed the fry lots of baby brine shrimp to ensure that they grow large and healthy. Then, you will be able to sell these beautiful killies to your local fish shop or other hobbyists.
4. Blue Gularis Killifish
The largest killi on our list grows to 4-5 inches (10-13 cm) in length, and they come with a big, ornery personality to match their size. 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. To make sure the male does not bother the female too much, give a pair of these killies a 29-gallon aquarium or larger with plenty of aquatic plants and ornaments for cover. This species, like the garderni killerfish, is a meat-loving fish and will happily eat bloodworms, brine shrimp, or even 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 very active, not too expensive, and can live with medium-sized tank mates like bala sharks and blood parrot cichlids. Because of their toughness and ability to adapt to a variety of water conditions, many pet stores sell them. 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 can be as colorful as saltwater fish and are very vibrant. Keep in mind that Killifish live between 2 and 5 years depending on their species. If you want to prolong their lives, lower the temperature and continue passively breeding them so they can enjoy as much 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.