Killi Info Bits

Killi Info Bits

Tyrone Genade

In this article I will present some notes on various species I have worked with in the past and had some success with. These species are:

Aphyosemion australe
Aphyosemion striatum
Aplocheilus lineatus
Austrolebias nigripinnis
Chromaphyosemion information
Epiplatys dageti
Epiplatys sp. aff. hildegardae ``Mt. Nimba CI99"
Fundulopanchax filamentosus
Fundulopanchax gardneri
10  Lacustricola katangae
11  Nothobranchius eggersi
12  Nothobranchius foerschi
13  Nothobranchius geminus
14  Nothobranchius interruptus
15  Nothobranchius kafuensis
16  Nothobranchius kilomberoensis
17  Nothobranchius korthausae
18  Nothobranchius lourensi
19  Nothobranchius luekei
20  Nothobranchius melanopsilus
21  Nothobranchius orthonotus
22  Nothobranchius palmqvisti
23  Nothobranchius sp. Mansa ZAM 97/2
24  Nothobranchius rachovii ``Beira 98"
25  Nothobranchius rubripinnis Lisingiri
26  Simpsonichtys sp. South Bahia CI 99
27  Simpsonichthys whitei

1  Aphyosemion australe

Picture by Joe Weber, taken from

Aphyosemion australe (AUS) can be a source of great joy or incredible frustration; it is either feast or famine when it comes to egg production. The gold strains can be very productive while the dark chocolate strains can be either very productive producing lots of tiny eggs or very unproductive producing a few good size eggs. With my AUS strain I have collected as much as 40 eggs in one day but the average is around 12. The orange and intermediate strains can be as productive as the golds. AUS can grow to 6 cm.

AUS is a very elegant fish that is very attractive and has a nice disposition. It is easy to keep if the tank is well covered (they will jump through the smallest crack onto the floor). They eat most foods offered but their favourite is baby brine shrimps (bbs). They will take flake if weaned onto it from young but can go off it if they get spoilt too much. Mine are fed frozen blood worm, white mosquito larvae, brine shrimp and flake.

They do best in soft slightly acidic water but do nearly as well in slightly alkaline and hard water. They don’t mind a well-lit tank as long as they can hide and are normally actively swimming around. Tanks of about 12 L are adequate for a small group but larger tanks are best. It is best to keep these fish in groups or trios with females out numbering the males. Females seem very susceptible to fish TB (mycobacteriosis). They will stop eating and waste away... This can be prevented by keeping the fish in harder water at a higher temp (26°C) and keeping the stress down to a minimum. Temperatures higher than 26°C are not recommended. AUS do fine down to about 18°C.

Spawning is straightforward. Hang one or two mops in the tank and pick eggs every other day. The eggs can be picked off and incubated in the tank's water in a small tub or dish. 50% of the water should be changed every day. Incubation is about 12 to 14 days. The fry are large enough to take bbs from hatching and grow quickly. At 2 months they can be sexed and at 4 months they are adult. This fish can also be spawned in peat or with plants. If spawned over peat, the peat can be removed and dried to a semi-desiccated state and stored for 4 to 5 weeks at 24°C till the eggs have incubated fully. The peat can then be immersed and the fry fished out of the peat container and fed on bbs. Alternatively, eggs can be picked of the mops and put into a peat slurry and then dried. The best method is simply to move egg laden mops to a new tub without touching the eggs. Hatched fry are simply fished from the incubation tub.

2  Aphyosemion striatum

A. striatum Cap Esterias. Photo Alf Persson, from

This is a neon coloured little gem of a fish. It is active, peaceful and a remarkable acrobat. Given the slimmest gap, these fish will launch themselves out of the tank.

They will eat most foods and tolerate a wide range of temperatures but do best at 24°C. They will spawn among plants, mops, gravel etc... The eggs take 14 to 21 days to hatch and the fry can take baby brine shrimp from hatching. Growth is not very fast with the fish being sexable from 3 to 4 months.

Very skew sex ratios are common.

3  Aplocheilus lineatus

Ap. lineatus Golden Wonder. Photo by Neil Armstrong, NAKA

Towards the end of 1998 I got sent some eggs of Aplocheilus lineatus "Golden Wonder" (LIN) by Mike Reid. In spite of the massive distance between him and I the eggs got here before they began to hatch. I got close on 30 fry. I then learnt that the LIN fry can jump quite well. In the end I had about 10 young fish. These fish, all except one female, had bent spines and various other deformities. Attempts at breeding this trait out of the strain failed. Around about this time a friend had been sent eggs too by another person. He was only able to get two males from his eggs. As I was having no success with my fish I gave him the one good female. I struggled on a bit with the young I got from my initial spawning but I eventually gave up. A while later I visited the friend with the 2 male lineatus and was surprised to find several tanks full of bright gold fish of perfect form and health. I was very impressed. Another friend took a couple of these fish home and also raised some lovely fish. Eventually he passed his fish onto another friend of mine who also started churning out fry and excellent quality young fish. I was very jealous. I eventually had the courage to try the fish again. I took on a pair of fish from the 3rd friend. This pair was very productive. After I collected close on 30 eggs the male died. I now have a tank of stunning healthy fry. What was the reason for the deformities I got previously? The parents of my initial fish were of excellent form. An interesting thing was that at around about the same time my dageti also started developing deformities. When I moved onto a different water system this stopped. I must conclude (for now) that the problem was my domestic water source. All three of my firends were on different water systems.

Aplocheilus lineatus are very easy to care for. They eat anything they can swallow, grow fast, aren't shy, are active fish and seem hardy enough. They spawn readily. They lay large eggs that are almost always good. The fry hatch in 10 to 12 days after being layed and are strong enough to take brine shrimp and will also take crushed flake, decapsulated brine shrimp eggs or the like. These fish also make good community fish. They can survive temperatures from 20 to 32°C. This is a all round lovely fish!

Other explanations for deformities are poor feeding and worms...

4  Austrolebias nigripinnis

I received eggs of the Nancáy strain in 2002 from Mike Reid.

This strain has pitch black males with brilliant neon turquoise spots and edging in the dorsal and anal fin. My largest male is about 3 cm while my largest female is about 2 cm. The males are quite aggressive towards each other while the females seem to avoid the males aggression.

Eggs take about 3 months to incubate. If left to long before wetting many belly sliders will be had. The fry take baby brine shrimp on hatching and grow at a reasonable rate. The eggs can last as long as 1 year in the peat. The addition of cool water (14°C) water to wet the eggs cuts down on the number of belly-sliders as does the use of oxygen tablets.

These fish come from Argentina. They are not tropical in nature and require cooler temperatures for best health. They prefer soft acidic water. I have stopped adding salt to their water.

5  Chromaphyosemion information

The genus Chromaphyosemion holds those little beauties formally known as Aphyosemion bitaeniatum and bivittatum. In 2000 Sonnenberg split these species off into their own genus along with the resurrection of various old species such as loenbergii, splendopleure etc... Some new species followed such as alpha, lugens, poliaki and riggenbachi. There are also numerous undescribed species awaiting description.

These little fish have been the bread and butter fishes of the hobby since their discovery. Many strains have proven very easy to breed and to be relatively hardy. There small size makes them very easy to house and their fuel efficient metabolism mean very little feeding is necessary. They will take flake and frozen foods but much prefer small live foods such as Cyclops, Daphnia and baby brine shrimps.

These fish like light so some lighting is a good thing. In bright light these fish are not shy and are more likely to flaunt their bright colours. Lots of plants and hiding places will give the fish a sense of security and make them less shy. Filtration is a good idea and a strong current is good, simulating their natural habitat. They tolerate a broad range of temperatures from as low as 18°Cto 29°C. The cameroon species however are a little more temperature sensitive and should not be kept at temperatures above 25°C for long.

Spawning is straightforward with mops or moss hung in the aquarium and eggs picked off regularly. These fish do often eat their eggs so thick light coloured mops are best. The eggs hatch in 12 to 14 days when water incubated while they may take as much as four weeks to hatch if incubated in peat. The fry are large enough to take baby brine shrimp from hatching.

I have maintained C. poliaki "Bolifamba" and C. bitaeniatum Ümudike". Pictures are available on Rudolf Pohlmann’s Chromaphyosemion Site. For an article (pdf) on C. poliaki click here (1293 Kb).

6  Epiplatys dageti

Epiplatys dageti monroviae (DAG or DAGMON) is an attractive little fish maxing out at 5 cm. It has yellow fins and body with a shiny blue irredescence. Males normally have 5 dark vertical bands while females can have as much as 6.
Ep. dageti monroviae. Photo by Bill Shenefelt.

Theses fish eat most food offered-willingly taking flake- but do best on a mixed diet of frozen, live and dry food. They will tolerate temperatures from 18 to 29°C. They require clean water and should not be crowded into a tank. While these fish are hardy they will rapidly degenerate in poor and/or cramped conditions contracted what can only be described as dageti plague. This bacterial infection spreads fast and once the fish have it they are as good as dead. Diseased fish should be removed from the group and large water change should be performed along with treatment with what ever antibiotic is at hand.

DAG benefit from having plants in the tank, especially dense floating plants. In such a setup fry may survive and mature in the parent's tank. DAG eggs are some what sensitive and if picked ones hands should be washed to cut down on bacterial infection. Acriflavine dyes are too strong for the eggs which are best incubated in tank water (with regular water changes) at a stable temperature. The fry will hatch out after as little as a week but may take as much as 14 days. Incubation in peat can prolong incubation to 3 weeks.

7  Epiplatys sp. aff. hildegardae ``Mt. Nimba CI99"

Ep. sp. Mt Nimba CI 99. Photo by Bill Shenefelt.

I obtained eggs of this fish from Bill Shenefelt towards the end of 2000. They grew fast, fought amongst themselves but were so nice I kept them anyway. The pictures don't do them any justice. My males are much darker and have a lot more colour (diet? lighting?). The caudal fin had yellow edging and the body had neon blue highlights which off set the red spots above very nicely. They produce large eggs very freely which hatch in two to three weeks. They eat flake and what ever else is offered. They take high temperatures with ease. They do seem very willing to jump though.

Breeding proved a challenge. I was not able to get enough eggs from my fish and concerted efforts began too late. I eventually lost the last male in the middle of 2002. This fish is now regarded as being a strain of fasciolatus.

8  Fundulopanchax filamentosus

The strain that I have worded with is an aquarium strain originating from Germany. It was imported by Errol Scholtz into South Africa via exporters in Singapore (!) as a single pair. The eggs from this pair proved viable and the fry were distributed among the killifish keepers in South Africa.

The eggs proved difficult to ship initially but the problems were discovered not to be fragile eggs but the tendency of the eggs to develop either too fast or two slow.

The suggested incubation time of FIL eggs is said to be three months. The eggs of this strain eye-up in as little as 6 to 8 weeks and do not last long in the peat. The eggs, once wet, may take several days to hatch.

The fry are large enough to take baby brine shrimp and grow rapidly. The fry can be sexed from 6 weeks as the males develop orange in their unpaired fins. The males also develop a tight cluster of red blotches just behind the gill.

The pair will willingly spawn in peat tubs.

FIL will eat most foods offered including flake. They can tolerate temperatures down to 18°C.

9  Fundulopanchax gardneri

Fundulopanchax gardneri (GAR) can grow to 7 cm and become an awesome fish! The red spots set off against the sky blue body are spectacular in large fish. GAR are reasonably unaggressive fish but will not hesitate to eat small fish and will dominate a mixed community of killies.
Fp. gardneri N'Sukka. Photo by Otto Schmidt

GAR can be kept in a 12 L tank as a trio between temperatures of 16 and 28°C. They are not picky about water conditions as long as the water is clean of nitrites etc... They don’t mind a well-lit tank but then the blue will not stand out as much. They eat anything offered and grow quickly. Mine readily take flake but are also fed brine shrimps and moderate amounts of frozen bloodworm etc... GAR are also ready jumpers so a tight cover is important.

Breeding is strait forward. The fish can be spawned on mops or plants and the eggs picked off and incubated in a separate container. They hatch in 2 to 3 weeks and take baby brine shrimp immediately. They grow quickly and can be sexed after a few weeks. Females begin to fill out at 3 months. The eggs can also be incubated in peat or the fish spawned over the peat. The peat is dried to a semi-desiccated state and stored at 24°C for 6 weeks. Alternatively the eggs can be left to hatch in the parents’ tank. The parents will not molest the fry and some will survive to adult hood in the tank. They older fry will predate the smaller fry.

GAR are easy fish well suited to the beginner and advanced killinut with a soft spot for steel-blue killies that breed themselves.

10  Lacustricola katangae

These fish are not brightly coloured but form a terrific display as a shoal. They reach about 6 cm in size. Feeding is easy as they will take all foods offered but it is suggested that blood worms be fed sparingly.

They will spawn on mops that have been made more rigid by tying an additional knot at the base of the mop. The eggs are large, about 2 mm in diameter and not fragile. 90% hatch rates can be expected. The eggs take 14 to 18 days to develop and hatch. Fry are large and have no trouble taking baby brine shrimp and crushed flake. Growth is not slow but they do not grow very fast either.

The important factor in raising the fry and keeping the adults healthy is to ensure the fish are not crowded and the tank be kept clean. They are very sensitive to dropsy.

11  Nothobranchius eggersi

Early last year (2001) I got sent eggs of the Utete red strain. I didn't have space for them so I passed them on to a friend. Big mistake. They were stunning. I got eggs from him and found them easy to work with. I eventually lost the strain after a generation due to water problems. I got the blue Bagamoyo strain about the same time I had the reds going. They were very productive but alas I lost them to Glugea!

The eggs of the eggersi develop very fast. They may be eyed up in as little as two months. In spite of the rapid development the eggs also last a long time in the peat. My red eggersi eggs were close on 6 months old. I never got many fry but I also never got any belly-sliders from the Utete fish. The fry were large enough to take baby brine shrimp but I think that smaller foods for the first few days is better. I use vinegar eels. As long as the water is well buffered the little bit of acetic acid from the vinegar doesn't cause any trouble. The fry grow rapidly. They can be sexable within 4 weeks and fully mature at 6 weeks. They are very productive.

The males are not overly aggressive towards each other and don't seem to harass the females to much. They take most foods readily. Mine get a diet of bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, baby brine shrimp and flake. They seem temperature tolerant as far as high temperatures go. I wouldn't keep them below 18°C. I have not found them to be very sensitive to disease such as velvet.

In 2003 I received eggs of the Red Rufiji River Camp population (TAN 02-16) and faired well with them but had a terrible time getting a second generation as the produced mainly belly-sliders. Again the eggs lasted long in the peat. The blue Kilimani strain (TAN 02-15) was also productive but the eggs did not seem to last as well and I got few fry for my 2nd generation. Reports from people I sent eggs to have been far more positive. N. eggersi is not a difficult species to work with.

12  Nothobranchius foerschi

N. foerschi Aquarium strain. Photo Neil Armstrong, NAKA

Nothobranchius foerschi (FOE) is a beautiful little Notho with a neon blue body and a scarlet tail. It has attractive yellow fins and a nice friendly disposition. My FOE rarely exceed 5 cm in length. Most max out at about 4 cm.

Their small size enables them to be kept in relatively small tanks. The standard one-teaspoon of salt per 4 liters applies here. Keeping the pH above 7 is also of importance. The temperature can be maintained between 16 and 30+°C. Frequent water changes are best.

FOE eggs take as little as two and a half months to eye up. To avoid belly-sliders it is best to wait three months. After this period fry death may occur. The fry grow very fast (sexable at four weeks and spawnable at six). Fry will eagerly take bbs and microworm and can quickly be weaned onto crushed flake. Adults take more or less anything offered.

FOE can be sensitive to velvet so this must always be kept in mind. Do not allow the FOE to get crowded in less than ideal conditions.

FOE can live for almost two years if cared for properly: good food, mild temperature and good water quality.

13  Nothobranchius geminus

I received eggs of this species early in 2001. The first hatch (of a small portion of the peat) yielded 12 fry which mostly all died. Two fry survived and proved quite hardy. The largest obstacle proved feeding. The fry are not voracious predators like other Nothos. They lurk near the surface and pick at what floats by. The fry are also small, tiny and can only take inforsoria. On top of this they seem to ignore green water. The fries ended up being both female.

After this first try and failure I set about planning the next wetting more carefully. The tank was set up with the water buffered to keep the pH above 7. The tank was stuffed with plants. Drops of milk and Liquifry #1 was added to the tank for 2 weeks to culture inforsoria. At the end of the two weeks there were clouds of infursoria at the surface of the tank.

The peat and eggs were emersed in a small dish and the hatching fry scooped out and added to the tank that had been prepared. Of the 20+ fry obtained 12 survived using this method. The fry were fed with Mike Reed's fry food which they took eagerly or so it seemed. After 1 and a half weeks the fry were on baby brine shrimp and growing steadily. At 1 month of age they reached 1.5 cm long.

The incubation of this specie seems in the region of 3 months but the eggs seem to be able to last in the peat for at least 5 months. This is not a very difficult specie. Just a little more effort is needed.

14  Nothobranchius interruptus

From the pictures that were on the late Winfred Stenglein website N. interruptus looked like a super charged foerschi! It was stunning. I had to have some. When Otto gave me a pair I was very disappointed. The fish were dull. So very dull.

In spite of the ugly duckling appearance I kept and spawned them. I had the same problem with the N. melanospilus ``Mvumi TAN 00/11'': the wild fish were dull but the next generation was stunning. The pair I got ate anything offered and spawned like rabbits with a limited life expectancy. The eggs eyed up after 2 months (at 28°C heat) and yielded large fry on wetting. The fry grew fast and looked dull. The same age elongatus were already showing colour and were actually smaller...

Some special feeding and patience and the fry are now colouring up very nicely. The body is a lighter blue than the foerschi and there is more yellow in the fins. The red is a beautiful scarlet when the males feel like showing it off. Best of all the sex ratio seems more balanced compared to the elongatus. Regrettably the colour is only ever visible when the fish are excited and showing off and normally when the tank is dimly lit. I can't imagine how Stegnlein got that amazing picture. I've let the strain go in favour of more attractive species.

They had no problems eating flake food.

2 years after the collection in Kenya Otto Schmidt was still feeding excess fish to his lungfish.

15  Nothobranchius kafuensis

N. kafuensis Kayuni ZAM 97-1. Photo by Bill Shenefelt.

The kafuensis (KAF) can cause problems. Some people wet the eggs too soon and get a lot of belly-sliders. These fish have an incubation time of roughly 4 to 5 months. They may eye up at only 3 months like some orthonotus strains. DO NOT WET ALL THE PEAT YET! Wet a portion of the peat. If it yields too high a percentage belly sliders do not wet the rest of the peat for some weeks then repeat the process. If worst comes to worst you will still get several healthy fish.

Males will begin to show themselves from about 4 weeks. Keep separating the large fish from the smaller ones each week. At six weeks you may see only a few males and a lot of females. DO NOT SPREAD THE FISH AROUND YET! From about six weeks more males will appear. Females cannot safely be separated from males based on anal fin shape or colour like with most other Nothos till the 8th week. The 12th week may be safer.

Condition the females before introducing them to the males. Select the best males with the nicest colour and then introduce them to the females' tank with peat. Monitor the females, the males can drive them very hard. Do not hesitate to remove the males if they get rough. The more the female grows the better. A 4 cm female can lay more eggs than 3 3cm females. Males will fight with each other but fatalities are rare as long as the dominant male has many subordinates to beat up on. While subordinates may try to steal a spawn with the females they rarely challenge the dominant male. Groups of 5 males to a number of females is best.

When collecting eggs do not store them too wet. No not use a course peat either as this can damage the eggs. Incubation at approximately 24-26°C is between 12 and 20 weeks.

Feeding the KAF is easy. They will take flake and most frozen food with their favourite being blood worms. KAF are not a sensitive to velvet as other Nothos but caution must still be taken. A salt concentration of 1 tsp/4L is best maintained. Alternatively effort can be made to keep the pH above 7. Velvet seems less dangerous at a higher pH. This can be accomplished with sodium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate is better at maintaining the pH than bicarbonate that can be rapidly neutralized by acids in peat. KAF do not like a low pH. The fish appear visibly stressed. Temperature is best kept above 18°C. The temperature could possibly safely exceed 30°C.

16  Nothobranchius kilomberoensis

N. kilomberoensis Minepa TAN 00-14. Photo by Bill Shenefelt

This is a stunning fish! More stunning then cardinals or any marine fish.

Both males and females have colour. The yellow in the anal and dorsal fins of the females is quite attractive against the tan chocolate-striped body. It contrasts well with the red-striped blue bodied male with his fiery red belly and tail.

These fish can be spawned like other Nothos. Salt can be added to fend off velvet but is best to keep the pH above 7 and the water soft to medium hard for this purpose. They do well as a small group in a 12 L tank with lots of surface area. They do not tolerate temperatures below 20°C and stand temperatures as high as 30°C. These fish will take frozen blood worm, brine shrimp etc... and flake if weaned onto it from a young age.

Eggs incubate fully in a little as 10 weeks at 24-26°C but are best left to incubate till 12 to 16 weeks. There is often a high proportion of belly-sliders. This can be averted by using cool (14°C) water to wet the eggs and the addition of oxygen tablets to boost the oxygen levels in the water. The fry can take baby brine shrimp form hatching and grow rapidly. Males and females can be differentiated from the 4th week by anal fin shape and the slight blue of the males.

Females are a bit weak in that they don't put up with a lot of abuse. They are easily over spawned and stressed. It is best to separate the males and females and the latter conditioned. The sexes should then be mixed and watched carefully to make sure the males don’t harass them too much. Males are not very aggressive towards each other.

17  Nothobranchius korthausae

Nothobranchius korthausae (KOR) is a smallish fish (growing to a maximum 6 cm) that occurs in three equally beautiful colour forms: red, intermediate and yellow. The fish are generally peaceful and easy to care for. Their only weakness is their sensitivity to velvet.

This male of the Kwachepa strain lived to be almost 2 years old and spent his last days spawning with his great grand children, nephews and nieces. Photo Tyrone Genade.

These fish are very temperature tolerant taking temperatures down to 15°C and able to stand temperatures in excess of 30°C. They will even spawn at these extremes! They will greedily take flake food as well as frozen foods. They can be maintained in pairs or groups with multiple males in relatively small tanks. Males will not kill each other and the species as a whole can make a good community inhabitant.

To avoid velvet keep the pH above 7 and the water moderately hard. The best deterrent is salt at one teaspoon per 4 L. Fry are especially sensitive to velvet.

Eggs take as little as 4 weeks to eye up at temperatures exceeding 26°C. At 24-25°C the eggs take 6 to 12 weeks. Fry are able to take baby brine shrimp from hatching. The fry grow quickly.

My old strain originated as a cross between a red and yellow strain fish. The blue from the yellow strain has more or less been replaced with a green-blue colour that off sets the red of the red forms nicely. I have since lost this strain but have managed to get hold of the recently collected yellow form from mainland Tanzania (Kwachepa TZL 53-2). The yellow form is just as beautiful if not more so. This new wild fish grow larger and are a lot more aggressive but still placid enough for a group to be maintained in a small tank. They are also just as productive. The sex ratios are a bit skewed though (very many more males than females). I obtained a group of korthausae from Mafia Island (Mafia Island TAN 02-5) from Otto Schmidt after another trip with Brian Watters to West Africa. These fish are much more interesting than the old aquarium strain and the Kwachepa strain. These fish are a mixed population of red and yellow fish. Some of the 'yellow' fish have a stunning red undertone to the blue body scales. They also have crimson throats. They are truely stunning. These fish are just as productive as the other strains and also reach a large size.

18  Nothobranchius lourensi

I received 2 pairs of lourensi ``Narubungo TAN 02-24'' from Otto Schmidt in 2002 after he came back from his 2002 trip to Tanzania. These fish proved to be difficult guests. They only took baby brine shrimp and blood worm.

They were not very productive but they were consistent. After a 3 month incubation period I wet some peat and got 15 fry. After 2 months these fry were adult and spawning. The second generation took to driedfood like most other captive Nothos.

Growth is not very fast and there is little intraspecies aggression. There is no large difference in size between the young males and females. Care seems strait forward.

The males have a turquoise blue body with faint black edging to each scale creating a reticulated pattern. The dorsal and anal fin has a white base colour with dark red radiating barring that is broader in the anal fin. The fin is edged in black and red. The caudal fine is patterned similar to the dorsal and anal but with a wide blue/white margin edged in black. The fins of the females are colourless but the body has faint blue.

N. lourensi is a very charming little fish.

19  Nothobranchius luekei

I have not found this species very difficult to work with. The fry are minute (smaller than Betta splendens fry) but after 2 weeks of infusoria and vinegar eels feeding they are able to take baby brine shrimp. Vinegar eel feeding was started in the 2nd week. The fry grow fast initially but then slow down as they mature-possible due to an unbalanced diet? They only take baby brine shrimp and other live foods.

The are best spawned, as with the N. geminus, using large wide dark coloured tubs with a thin layer of peat. This and the related geminus can be very produtive but the eggs are tiny.

Incubation time is 10 to 20 weeks. The eggs can possibly wait longer to the wet. It is a good idea to wet the peat multiple times and only small portions of peat be worked with. It is difficult feeding more than 20 fry at any one time.

I separate the fry 10 to a 2L tub stuffed with Java moss to which portions of infusoria culture is added. Water changes are performed every second day with mature water.

The males can be hard on the females. This fish can live two or more years.

20  Nothobranchius melanopsilus

N. melanospilus Mvumi. Photo Bill Shenefelt

The wild fish of the Mvumi strain (TAN 00-11) I received in 2000 were very attractive and big! And also very productive.

These fish can reach 7 cm and will not hesitate to eat small fish. They can however be fed on frozen blood worm, brine shrimp and flake if weaned onto it from a young age. They do best in soft alkaline water but adapt well to harder water. Soft acidic water is not recommended or velvet may attack and kill the fish. The addition of salt at 1 tsp/4L can be used to fend off velvet but if the water is kept alkaline the velvet will not surface unless the tank is poorly maintained and the fish is stressed.

These fish can be bred like other nothos and have an incubation period of 2 to 3 months at 24-26°C. The fry can take baby brine shrimp from hatching and grow slower than most other nothos. The males colour up very late (as much as 3 months!). Females can be discerned from 8 weeks by their black spots and blotches. Males can be hard on the females and murderous to each other. If a group is maintained it is best kept in a large tank (60L) but a male and a few females can be kept happily in a 12 L tank. The fish can take temperatures down to 16°C and as high as 30°C if not more.

In 2002 I received some melanospilus of the Ifakara strain (sp. aff melanospilus Ifakara TAN 01-13). These were big, elongated and very beautiful. They didn't have stunning colour, just a demeanor and subtle colour that gave them an irresistible charm. They were not very productive for me and I always got more belly sliders than healthy fry. Their incubation period appeared short. This was later put down to the use of a constant temperature incubator. Once incubation proceeded at variable temperatures around 24°C the belly-slider problem was solved. The eggs take about 3 to 4 months to eye-up.

It was said this fish was aggressive. I never saw any such aggression until my female died. Only then did the one male begin to molest the other. With my final bag of peat I got 2 fry that grew up to be females. These females have been passed on to Otto Schmidt to breed with his 2002 wild caught males.

21  Nothobranchius orthonotus

Nothobranchius orthonotus (ORT) is a difficult fish. It is very aggressive, has a long and delicate incubation period and the only strains that are truly spectacular are truly murderous. They are still quite desirable and always in demand.

N. orthonotus Mkuze KZN 99-1. Photo Julian Haffagee

The Mkuze strain is a blue green with yellow dorsal and anal fins with a white edge. The caudal fin is almost red. This almost red colour reticulates the body and is also present in the base of the dorsal and anal fins. This fish looks dull but is actually quite nice.

They are rather aggressive towards each other. Females often bare the brunt of their aggressiveness. The best method of maintenance is to have a large tank (60 cm) and cram as many males in the tank along with some females so the aggression is well distributed. My friend does this very effectively in his over grown Java moss tanks. He was able to keep his last female going for several months with seven males. I generally can't keep my females alive for more then 2 months once maturity is reached.

Egg incubation seems to benefit from a little cooling (down to say 14°C) and then a gradual warming. Using this method the eggs can eye-up in 3 months. Don't try to hatch them at 3 months though. The eggs have to lie for at least 6 months before you can risk wetting the eggs or you will only get belly sliders. The fry are large and take brine shrimp nauplii immediately. They do not grow very fast and they may not colour up for 2 months. One the fish mature a care full watch must be made to make sure they are not killing each other.

The adults will eat most food offered. A temperature of 26°C is suggested. Incubation take 6 to 7 months at 24 to 26°C.

Good luck. I've just about given up (run out of fish and eggs) but will certainly try again!

22  Nothobranchius palmqvisti

This is another good beginners fish. This species is hardy, prolific and not very aggressive. They will also eat any food offered.

My experience is with the Ramisi KE 01-12 strain collected by Watters, Cooper and Schmidt in 2001 in Kenya. It reaches about 6 cm in total length and can live longer than a year.

The eggs take 12 to 16 weeks to eye up and prove hardy in the peat. Good hatches after 6 months are not impossible.

The fry are large enough to take baby brine shrimp and grow rapidly. As with most Nothos the fry are very sensitive to velvet. There tank should be kept clean and have 1 tsp/gallon of salt added.

23  Nothobranchius sp. Mansa ZAM 97/2

This is an interesting little fish. Is small (4 to 5 cm) colourful and peaceful. The perfect fish?

No. They are shy and won't eat anything but bbs and frozen and live foods even if starving. They insist on spawning out side of peat tubs and they don't like hard alkaline water. This is a frustrating little devil but I love them. I tried with the Mansa some time back but didn't get very far as the parents died and I never got any eggs (because they were being laid on the glass substrate). I got some eggs form Bob Morenski late 2001 and got a pr going from the eggs (they are a bit sensitive and a have narrow window in which to wet them).

The fry are easy to raise and are quite hardy. They are also big. These fish must lay the biggest fish egg relative to body size. Females don't get much bigger than 3 cm but lay over 2 mm diameter eggs! These eggs are touchie and take 4 to 5 months to incubate at 24°C. They take about 3 months at 27°C. The eggs can last long in the peat or rather some eggs survive longer than others. Otto Schmidt has got fry form peat almost a year old!

Not many people have this fish and there is a concerted effort to maintain this population. A new population of Mansa like fish have been collected near Kasanka in Zambia. It is unknown at this time what relation this fish has to N. kafuensis, symoensi, polli, brieni or the mythical malaissei. The research continues!

24  Nothobranchius rachovii ``Beira 98"

N. rachovii Beira 98, Photo Bob Morenski

Nothobranchius rachovii (RAC) is reputed to be the most beautiful fish in the world. It is indeed stunning.

This fish can grow to 6 cm. It grows quickly, able to spawn at 4 weeks and fully coloured up at 8 weeks if kept under the correct conditions (clean water and lots of space). Males can be very aggressive towards each other and will often spawn a female to death.

They prefer live and frozen food but can be coaxed to take flake. The pH is best kept above 7 to hold off velvet with the addition of some salt added at 1 teaspoon per 4 L. The water can be hardened to maintain the above pH. RAC also have a wide temperature tolerance.

These fish are very productive. The incubation period at 25°C is 6 months. Incubations of 9 months is not too out of the ordinary. The fry can be small and need infursoria for the first few days. I have never had this problem before though.

It is best to maintain large groups or a group of females with only 1 male. I have had renegade males kill each other off before. One female should never be kept alone with a male. I keep 5 males with 6 or 7 females in a 12 L tank.

The black rachovii strain produces eggs that can eye up in as little as 6 weeks. Males are said to be less aggressive than those of the red strain.

25  Nothobranchius rubripinnis Lisingiri

N. rubripinnis Lisinjiri. Photo by Rudolph Terblanche

This is a dark red strain of RUB. They have a red body and blue fins.

The fish are easy to care for but very susceptible to velvet. They are not difficult to spawn and are very prolific. They are also easy to feed.

The fry are small but still manage to take baby brine shrimp on hatching. Vinegar eels and micro worms may be a better choice of first food. The fry grow fast.

Incubation is 6 to 16 weeks depending on temperature. The eggs can stand a short wait in peat.

26  Simpsonichtys sp. South Bahia CI 99

These fish appeared on the killifish scene as a commercial import out of South Bahia Brazil to Norway. It was dubbed S. sp. aff. flavicaudatus "South Bahia CI 99" but a recent expedition to the South Bahia region now indicates this specie not to be directly related to flavicaudatus but is a specie by itself and the description is set to be published ßoon" by W. Costa.

I have little experience with this fish but can state that this fish has an incubation period of roughly 6 weeks to 2 months and the fry can take brine shrimp nauplii upon hatching. Growth appears rapid.

That was what I said about a year ago. Not much has changed. Incubation ,while relatively short, is not fickle. The eggs can last as much (if not longer) than 4 months. The initial growth is rapid then slows. At this stage the males rocket ahead of the females (competition for food?). Females live longer however. There is significant bickering among the males but they don't really kill each other as with other killifish species. Maximum size is said to be close on 6 cm for males and 3 for females. I am yet to see this… My fish remain small. The males start off with a bright orange red anal and dorsal fin that fades to a dirty orange/red as the fish ages. The body is covered with blue dots on a dull dark reddish background. There are long filaments on the first dorsal rays of the males. These diminish with age as the males bite each other's off. While eggs are difficult to spot these fish are reasonably productive for their size. Don't expect to hatch hundreds of fry however. A hatch of 20 good fry after 4 months from 2 pairs spawning for 2 weeks is optimistic. Larger hatches are possible with earlier wetting.

there is considerable variation in regard to colour in this species. The fish featured on the SAA website is a ÿellow" morph. I do not know the genetics of the colour but my original males were "red" and that trait seems to of stuck. Personally I feel the "red" strain is nicer. The ÿellow" strain has faired well in the shows. It is unclear whether all the sp. "South Bahia" in the hobby originate from the 1 source in Norway.

I eventually lost this species due to stupidity (I put young fish with larger fish that ate them).

27  Simpsonichthys whitei

Photo by Bill Shenefelt

It is not difficult to see why this fish is so popular in killi circles. Why it isn't popular in the broader tropical fish trade I don't know. They breed better than rabbits, look very attractive, have a rapid growth rate and eat flake like there was no tomorrow.

These stunning fish are peaceful and adaptable. Their breeding is strait forward with a short incubation period of only 6 to 8 weeks, although the incubation can take longer. The eggs are also long lasting. The adults don't usually tear each other apart and a good size group can live happily in a small tank (the newly introduced Barra de Soa Joao strain and some other aquarium strains can be aggressive towards each other). They can stand low temperature down to 15°C if not less and have no problem at higher temperatures.

The fry can take brine shrimp nauplii from the time of hatching and grow rapidly. Hatches can number in the hundreds of fry and culling will have to be done if not to decrease the feeding burden then to ensure the health of the fish as they don't tolerate overcrowding.

Of the various strains I have known the one I obtained from Mike Reid as a gift was by far the best. They had superb colour and a peaceful nature. They also reached a good size (almost 10 cm!) and ripe age. They were also very productive and fry less demanding than other strains I've worked with. I also got fewer belly sliders.


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On 4 Jul 2004, 00:13.