“Back to the Basics” for my Favorite Fish

by Doug Higley


OK, so now I have been keeping killies for a few years, and I rather enjoy it.  Over the years, I have learned lessons on how not to keep killifish, what is not necessary for breeding them, and a gamut of other things related to the hobby that no one should ever lose any sleep over.

The first killifish I kept was a gardneri Misaje.  After working with, and having the pair for a year, I managed to get two fry.  “What will I ever do with so many fish?” I asked myself sarcastically.  What did I do wrong, you ask?  I kept the pair together at all times, never fed any live food except baby brine shrimp on occasion, and kept them in super hard water.  Once I learned that a little softer water would help with viable eggs, I was on my way to success!

I started cutting my hard well water with somewhere around 30% rain water and good things started happening.  Yes!  I Can Keep and Breed Killifish!

Then I began to try other varieties of killifish available in the hobby and had more good luck.  Some people in the club, which by the way everyone in the club seems to love to share information, told me things that might help with my success, because at this time my luck with breeding killifish was at best marginal.  Some folks said use sponge filters, put some java moss in your tanks for cover, and so on and on and …  Over time, I had a sponge filter in every 1 and 2.5 gallon breeding tank, a good sized clump of java  moss, a mop made of dark colored yarn for the fish to lay eggs in.  Some times two mops, on floating and one laying on the bottom.  I put lights over the tanks to help plant matter grow.  Wow!  Now all my breeding tanks look like little show tanks.

And here is what I discovered:

Simply put, a breeding tank is not a show tank.  If you don’t have a lot of time to clean sponge filters, treat tanks full of java moss that decided to come down with bad cases of hair algae, clip the ends of air hoses connected to the sponge filter because they clogged from deposits of some sort and would not let the air through, etc., then STOP!  THINK!

Get back to basics for your breeding tanks like I did.  One air line to each tank and no sponge filter will do.  Also, in my opinion, no java moss and one mop will do, as long as some of the mop is in contact with the bottom of the tank.

Now I have a simpler operation going here.  I can clean tanks and do water changes with little effort.  The most important thing in the hobby to keep and breed healthy fish is your regular water changes.  Do this and you will not need all the extras unless you’re talking about some of the more difficult varieties of killifish. 

Keep things simple and get back to basics.  Enjoy your fish and your extra free time!  My still favorite fish in the hobby is A. striatum Lamberene