by David Snell
I have been a member of the American Killifish Association since July 1996. I have not kept any killifish until just recently. I wanted to try an Aphyosemion species or a Fundulopanchax species since they have been described by the AKA Beginner’s Guide (p. 46/47) as hardy species and they should be easy to breed. After bidding on several species of killifish at the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society 1997 Spring Auction, I was the lucky winning bidder of a pair of Aphyosemion striatum.
The male A. striatum is a brightly colored fish. It can be described as a green bodied fish, with a series of about 5 red stripes running the length of the fish. Therefore, it appears that the A. striatum has a series of alternating green and red stripes. The red lines fan out and break up in the caudal fin. The bottom of the caudal fin has a nice yellow stripe. The dorsal fin of the A. striatum has two red stripes running horizontally, one stripe on the top and one stripe on the bottom. The two red stripes are separated in the middle of the dorsal fin by a green horizontal stripe. The pectoral fin appears to be clear, yet shaded yellow on the bottom. The ventral fins are a light shade of yellow with a few red dots. The anal fin is mostly green with a series of dots that seem to create another red stripe. The bottom of the anal fin also has a nice yellow stripe.
The female A. striatum can be described as a gray bodied fish. Upon closer inspection, with the aid of a fairly bright light, the ventral fins and anal fin are outlined in a light blue color. Also noted on the dorsal fin and on the top part of the caudal fin closest to the caudal peduncle are a number of small red dots.
Both of the A. striatum measure about 2 inches in length.
The pair were reared in a 5 1/2 gallon tank. Initially, no filtration was used, but after about two weeks I put in a small air powered sponge filter. The water conditions in the breeding tank were 72-75 degrees, a pH of 6.5 to 6.7, and approximate hardness of 4GH and 2KH. Water changes were done at approximately one week intervals using reverse osmosis water that was filtered through peat for about one day before each water change. Also placed in the tank was a green nylon spawning mop, as outlined in the AKA Beginner’s Guide (p. 32). The adults were fed a combination of frozen bloodworms, Fry Feed Kyowa pellets, microworms and Artemia nauplii.
During the first week there were no eggs found in the spawning mop. I continued to feed the fish twice a day. After the first week, a water change was done, then the A. striatum started to spawn.
Approximately 40 clear colored eggs were collected over the course of one week. The Aphyosemion striatum are capable of producing up to 30 eggs a day according to Hans Baensch (p. 540). I believe if the A. striatum were better conditioned they could have produced a higher number of eggs per day.
The eggs were incubated in a small 2-cup plastic container with a loose fitting lid. At first, I didn’t use any fungicide. After losing half the eggs to fungus, I used a small diluted amount of Methylene Blue. After about 12-14 days, the eggs "eyed-up" and I expected them to hatch. Only four eggs had hatched on their own.
The remaining eggs still had not hatched after three more days. The eggs were artificially hatched as described in the AKA Beginner’s Guide (p. 36) by placing the eggs into a small vial and quickly capping the vial after blowing into it. Several of the eggs hatched within one hour. After two more hours, I gave up and returned the remaining eggs back to the small container. The following day, I used the same method of artificially hatching, this time with the addition of a small amount of pellet food added to the vial. The remaining eggs hatched within one hour. They were carefully transferred to the rearing container.
All totaled, there were 17 fry, of which three died within the first week. The newly hatched fry measured about 4 mm and they were put into a small clear plastic container that holds about a quart of water. A small amount of Java moss, two Malaysian Trumpet snails, and two adult Daphnia magna were also placed into the container. The container had no heater and no filtration. The water was changed 20-50% nearly every day. The water conditions were the same as the adults: 72-75 degrees, pH 6.5-6.7, and hardness of 4GH and 2KH.
The fry were initially fed a variety of microworms and vinegar eels. After two weeks, I switched to mostly Artemia nauplii in addition to the microworms and vinegar eels. Over the course of two to three weeks the original Daphnia population grew in number from two adults to over forty Daphnia of various sizes. By the fourth and fifth weeks, the A. striatum fry were large enough to eat the smaller Daphnia. The daphnia population had decreased to about eight mid-sized Daphnia. After a little more than five weeks, the fry have grown up to 12 mm in length.
The fry will be transferred to a larger container in the near future. The A. striatum will likely be grown out in a plastic show box. Hopefully within the next six weeks or so the A. striatum will start to color up and I might be able to determine the sex of my fish. Perhaps by the Summer Auction, I will have a few pairs to auction off or give away.
If you are looking for an easy fish to breed and you want to try a killifish, I would recommend the Aphyosemion striatum. They have been the first pair of fish I have successfully bred.
Aquarium Atlas, Riehl, R. and Baensch, H.A., 1991, Baensch, Melle, Germany.
The American Killifish Association’s Beginner’s Guide, Markis, AC and Langton, R.W., 1990 American Killifish Association.
This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 28, # 4