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
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. You can place a DIY spawning mop inside the aquarium. Condition them for spawning with lots of tiny foods such as frozen cyclops and baby brine shrimps. To prevent adults from eating the eggs, you can place them in a separate grow-out or breeding box. 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. 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.
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. 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
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 can eat smaller fish and have larger mouths than you may think. Males can be quite aggressive so make sure to have plenty of aquarium plants and tall decorations. 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 blue with dense clusters of red dots and vertical stripes, and their tails have an eye-catching orange band 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. Similar to the garderni killifish this species loves meat and will happily eat bloodworms and brine shrimp as well as smaller nano fish. These fish can be difficult to find so you might try to source them from local aquarium societies, fish shops, online retailers and online auction sites such as 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. Many big pet store chains like to sell them because of their hardiness and ability to live in a wide range of water parameters. 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. 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. 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.