Killifish are lovely little creatures with a strange lifestyle, and they certainly make one of the most researched fish nowadays. Indeed, there is so much more to still be fully understood about these funny fish.

There are many of them available, and they can be found all around the world, but in different waters. In fact, they are mainly distinguished into three large groups based on the water types which they inhabit and based consequentially on the length of their lifespan.

Annual killifish live in ponds and marshes which dry out completely every year, meaning that the adults die once there is no more water around.

Semi-annual variations include a mid-variable, so they live in waters that also tend to dry out, but not every year. And finally, the non-annual type of killifish lives in permanent waters and features consequentially a longer lifespan.

Killifish Species for Fish Tanks

Luckily, captive-bred species of killifish rarely live just for a couple of months only, and they generally feature somehow extended lifespans. 

1. Lyretail Killifish

This colorful species descends from permanent waters around West Africa, so they can survive either 3 or even 5 years when held in captivity.

Also, they are egg-hangers, meaning that thanks to the abundance of water they are not forced to bury their eggs but can actually leave them below the water surface by placing them safely on plants.

A lyretail is slightly larger than a female and can reach a maximal length of 2,5 inches. Also, they feature brighter coloration and have a distinctive lyre-shaped tail. You can house them in small tanks such as 15 gallons, and they thrive in soft water with temperatures ranging from 68- to 75-degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Kisaki Killifish

The kisaki killifish have amazingly vivid red colors all over their bodies. Plus, they feature blue eyes, making them look quite spectacular.

They love having their water around 75-degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH value should be neutral. If you are looking to breed these red guys, you should provide them with plenty of peat moss at the tank bottom.

They too grow not longer than 2,5 inches during their life in captivity.

3. Volcano Killifish

As their name suggests itself, these adorable 2-inch fish usually inhabit waters located above volcanic soils. They are carnivorous and will happily accept any insect you can offer them, but can adapt pretty soon to commercial fish food, too.

10-gallon tanks should be more than a suitable home for these creatures, as long as you are able to provide them with slightly acidic water of higher temperatures, preferably around 80-degrees Fahrenheit.

Volcano killifish feature amazing coloration, from neon yellow fins to red and green splashes, remarkably resembling to rainbows.

4. Redspot Panchax

Redspot panchax fish are another vibrantly colored non-annual type of killifish. They usually inhabit the Congo River basin, and they prefer water of more acidic values, ideally from 6,5 to 6,6 pH. They too rarely exceed a maximal size of around 2 inches, so keeping them in smaller tanks is simply fine.

These egg-hangers can be found in two color variations, and they both look so beautiful. The first possibility is adopting specimens with yellow fin edges, and the other one is choosing those with blue fin edges. Non-depending on these coloration splashes, all of them feature amazing tiny red spots all over their bodies, hence their name.

5. Striped Panchax

This is one of the largest killifish species and can reach a full size of almost 5 inches during their adult phase. Also, being carnivorous, these are the first type from our list which can actually decide to eat some of their smaller-sized tank mates.

Therefore, you should choose these wisely. Striped panchax fish are not picky eaters and can adapt quite quickly to commercial food as well as dried meaty snacks.

They prefer having neutral pH water values, and the temperature should be between 75- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. Once you manage to achieve such values, these gorgeous fish are quite the hardy pets, as they are not that sensitive to water parameter fluctuations as most of the others.

On top of that, they will add a nice blend of vivid yellow and orange colors to your tank, with male specimens having longer fins when compared to their female companions.

6. Banded Panchax (Clown Killifish)

Banded Panchax – Flickr

Banded panchax fish are one of the smallest options available, and they barely reach 2 inches in length. However, they may still survive for 3 to 5 years in captivity tanks.

They are peaceful creatures so they can be safely kept in suitable community tanks, but many keepers nowadays prefer keeping them in isolation tanks to enhance their breeding, as there are sadly not many captive-bred specimens.

This adorable killifish feature a white color base with bold black stripes placed vertically across their bodies. Plus, their tails often end in a bright red color, which adds to their particular beauty. Due to their tiny size, you should probably crush their commercial food flakes to ease their feeding, or you may choose tiny pellets as an alternative.

These minute beauties love their water of neutral pH values and lots of live plants across their tanks.

7. Least Killifish

Continuing with super-small killifish types, the least variation is actually the smallest of them all. Moreover, they are classified as one of the smallest fish species on the planet, with maximum sizes being just 1,2 inch.

But such tiny size does not make them an overly sensitive pet kind. Indeed, they are extremely adaptable to various water temperatures and can survive on microorganisms around their tank. This certainly makes them an excellent choice for first-time or less experienced keepers.

You can keep them in small tanks such as 5 gallons and you can expect them to survive up to even 3 years, which is quite remarkable for a creature of such size. They are omnivorous, so they can be fed both with plant matter, daphnia, and tiny microorganisms.

These particular fish are livebearers, and they can re-produce in a quite quick pace once you manage to get their ideal breeding environmental conditions right.

8. Golden Wonder Killifish

These amazing fish get their name thanks to the yellow body coloration of the males, which feature golden palettes towards the top of the tails, and gradually turning into whitish colors moving towards the head. Females have somehow fewer brilliant colors when compared to their male companions.

Golden wonder killifish are one of the largest types of killifish available and they may reach up to even 4 inches in length. These carnivorous are not picky eaters, but they do prefer softer water values and heavily planted tanks. You can house them into 20 gallons.

9. American Flagfish

These creatures are not just originating from America, but male specimens also feature such color combinations which actually resemble to the American flag, hence the name. They usually grow around 2,5 inches when fully mature, and they can be housed into 10-gallons tanks with peat fiber.

As opposed to most other killifish species, this particular type can become quite aggressive over time, so they may not be the best community tank mates. They are omnivorous and love feeding on tank plants above other.

10. Steel-Blue Killifish

Steel-blue killifish, although their name suggests they are mostly blue, feature actually so many different colors. Blue is their base, but they also have amazingly vivid red spots and stripes, as well as bright yellow fin edges. All in all, an amazing addition to any planted tank.

They may grow around 2,5 inches and their life expectancy is around 3 years.

11. Diamond Killifish

These diamond-shaped livebearers are not really popular among modern aquarists as they live in super-shallow waters and are quite difficult to maintain healthy in captivity. They grow around 2,5 inches.

Wrapping Up

Killifish are funny and special creatures which can be vastly different among the family. But whatever your choice may be, we are sure that you will enjoy observing these colorful splashes around your home.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *