Top 5 Colorful Killifish that every Fish Keeper Should Try

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. Also, annual killifish can be harder to keep because they only live for a few months after you hatch their eggs. 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

Epiplatys annulatus

At a mere 1.4 inches (3.35 cm), the clownkilli is the smallest killifish on this list. They can live in nano tanks of 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. Like most killifish, they prefer cooler waters, between 67-79degF (19-25 degC), and may not require an aquarium heater.

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

Aphyosemion australe

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. You can keep multiple trios or pairs together in a larger tank. They are able to eat Vibrabites, bloodworms, and frozen brine shrimps because their mouths are larger.

To hatch your eggs, you can use a spawning mop if you intend to keep your killies together in a community tank. However, if you put a colony of them in a species-only setup, just add some dense aquarium plants (e.g., floating water sprite and Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’) to hide the fry, and their numbers should naturally increase over time.


3. Gardneri Killifish

Fundulopanchax gardneri

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 are larger than you might think. They may even eat small fish so avoid placing them with nano-species. Males can be a bit feisty, so use lots of aquarium plants and taller decorations to break up line of sight and minimize aggression. 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

Fundulopanchax sjoestedti

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. 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. This species, like the garderni killerfish, is a meat-loving fish and will happily eat bloodworms, brine shrimp, or even 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

Aplocheilus lineatus

This beautiful, golden-yellow fish is also a bigger killifish that reaches 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) in size. They are active and not very expensive. They can live with medium-sized tank mates such as bala sharks or blood parrot 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 can be as colorful as saltwater fish and are very vibrant. 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. While we do not ship live fish, you can check out our list of preferred online retailers to see the latest fish they have in stock.