Aquarium Livestock Pet Care Guides



Africa; few from Europe & Americas

Tank Temperature:

Most require 72-80°F


African: pH 6.0-6.5; soft water North/South American: pH 6.5-7.0; hard water

Tank Requirements:

Most require a planted tank with a spawning medium like moss or an artificial spawning mop. Some prefer low water levels.


Surface dwelling carnivores; some adults may accept frozen foods; juveniles need live foods. Feed brine shrimp, Daphnia, mosquito larvae, blackworms, fruit flies, similar items.


Males are territorial against other males. Some larger species like Gold Wonder Killifish may prey on very small fish or inverts. Annual species (mostly Nothobranchius sp.) shortlived.


Community Safe with caution, most species are best kept in species-only systems due to specialized care and requirements. Some can be kept with community fish like tetras, danios, rasboras, rainbows, smaller catfish.

Species Overview

Killifish are not well-known to most aquarists, but some dedicated hobbyists specialize in the care and breeding of this unique family of fish. Killis are specially adapted to the harsh environments in which they are collected in nature, such as seasonal wetlands and pools that only contain water during part of the year. Killis are found around the world except Australia, Antarctica, and Northern Europe. Most aquarium species are African natives.

Many of the most spectacularly colored killifish species (dominant males show colors, females tend to have bland coloration) have seasonal life spans and live for only a few months to a year. They are found in mud or peat-bottomed puddles that fill with water during the rainy season and dry out when the rains stop. The eggs remain in the mud, peat or leaf litter at the bottom of the pond and hatch when the puddle or pond fills again; this dry-out period is required for many species in order for the eggs to develop properly. Killifish that are not annual generally have a lifespan of two to three years typically and are found in permanent streams, rivers and lakes.

Killis tend to be rather timid and like plants and other ornamentation to hide in and feel secure. Some killifish have very specific water chemistry requirements (pH, temperature, hardness, etc.) and may need to be kept in small species aquariums. Others, including the popular Gold Wonder Killifish (Aplocheilus lineatus) and American Flagfish (Jordanela floridae), can be kept in community aquariums with compatible species. Killifish are generally territorial and mature males will not usually tolerate other males in close proximity. Most types do best if purchased in pairs or trios of one male and at least two females. Young killifish may require live foods like baby brine shrimp or daphnia, while adults should accept live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, blackworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, fruit flies and similar items.

We always suggest that you do further research before adding a new pet to your tank. What we have provided for you are guidelines and suggestions. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our fish room at 717-299-5691 ext. 1213 or

Recommended Items

Freshwater Community Food
Plastic Plants
Artificial Rocks & Wood