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. Annual killifish can be difficult to keep, as they only live a few weeks after hatching. We are happy to share our top picks for killifish that have short lives.


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. They are known as the “banded panchax” because of their distinct, vertical bands of dark brown and tannish-yellow, and they are also called the “rocket killifish” because the male has a striking, flame-like tail. 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 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. Place the eggs in a separate tank or a breeding box to keep them from being eaten by the adults. For more details, read our full care guide.

2. Orange Australe Killifish

Aphyosemion australe

This color variety of the lyretail pax is well-known for its vibrant orange body, red spots, and long tail. They can grow to 2.5 inches (6cm) in length, so a pair can live together in a 10- to twenty-gallon aquarium. Multiple pairs or trios can be kept together in a larger aquarium. 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. 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. They are one of the easiest species to spawn, provided they are kept in cool temperatures and protected from predators. 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 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 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. Much like the garderni killifish, this species is quite the meat lover and will happily consume bloodworms, brine shrimp, and even 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

Aplocheilus lineatus

This gorgeous, golden-yellow fish can also be a larger killifish and can reach 3-4 inches (8-10cm). They are quite active and affordable. They can be kept with medium-sized tank mates, such as blood parrot and cichlids. They are popular pets in big pet shops due to their ability to survive in all water conditions. They are omnivorous, and will eat any tiny fish or dwarf shrimp that they find.

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. To see the most recent fish in stock, we do not ship live fish. However, you can look at our list of preferred online sellers.