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? Many veteran fishkeepers will tell you that they are top-dwelling fish that love to jump out of the water, so you must have a close-fitting lid and cover even the smallest hole to prevent their escape. Annual killifish are more difficult to keep as they live only a few months after hatching their eggs. We are happy to share our top picks for killifish that have short lives.
1. Clown Killifish
The clown killi measures in at just 1.4 inches (3.5cm) and can be kept in nano tanks up to 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. They can live in slightly cooler water temperatures between 67 and 79 degrees F (19 to 26 degrees C), but may need an aquarium heater depending on the room temperature.
We would like to keep six clown killies (ideally two males, four females) so 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 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 2.5 inches (6cm) in length, so a pair can live together in a 10- to twenty-gallon aquarium. With a larger fish tank, multiple pairs and trios can be kept together. They can eat Vibra Bites and bloodworms easily because they have larger mouths.
A spawning mop is a tool that can be used to remove eggs from your fish killies if they are to be kept in a communal aquarium with their tank mates. 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
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. 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 can eat smaller fish and have larger mouths than you may think. Males can be a bit feisty, so use lots of aquarium plants and taller decorations to break up line of sight and minimize aggression. 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 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 blue and have dense clusters with red dots and vertical stripes. Their tails also have an orange band running 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. Much like the garderni killifish, this species is quite the meat lover and will happily consume bloodworms, brine shrimp, and even 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 beautiful, yellow-colored fish can grow to 3-4 inches (8-10cm) in length. 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. They are omnivorous, and will eat any tiny fish or dwarf shrimp that they find.
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.