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Greater Seattle Aquarium Society

A Cool Killifish (Epipaltys dageti)

by Dave Sanford
September 1997

Try to imagine yourself approaching a partially shaded pool with a dense growth of emergent plants in the rainforests of western Africa. As you gaze into the water, several surface feeding fish strike at insects buzzing near the air-water interphase. Upon closer investigation you observe they are a 2 to 2-1/2 inch killifish with 5-7 vertical black stripes. The larger ones have yellow-green unpaired fins and an orange stripe edged in black on the chin. This characteristic allows you to identify it as Epiplatys dageti, the fire mouth killi.

These cool killies will do well in a five to ten gallon tank having neutral to slightly acid pH, water temperature in the low to mid 70’s, and gentle surface agitation. They love live foods such as brine shrimp, adult and baby, Daphnia, and fruit flies sprinkled on the surface will be attacked with gusto.

If plants such as water sprite, frogbit, and Java moss are provided they will utilize them as a spawning medium. In this type of permanent setup, eggs will be difficult to remove from the plants but a few fry will survive or may be sucked up in a baster to rear in another tank.

A spawning set up of one male and 3 or 4 females will result in more fry production and make life easier on the females. Even greater yields can be achieved if the sexes are separated for a few days before being placed into the tank together. I use two top to bottom acrylic yarn mops in the tank, with no live plants. This forces them to use the mops for spawning. The mops are checked every few days for eggs, which when found are picked (they’re very tough) and placed into a shallow dish of clean aged tap water with just enough acriflavin to slightly color the water. Any eggs that show fungus are removed with a dropper. The viable eggs will hatch in 10-14 days. I then place the fry into a shallow temporary container with Java moss (with microfauna), and feed microworms and baby brine shrimp. The water in the unfiltered container must be kept clean by daily water exchanges and addition of snails to consume the inevitable uneaten brine shrimp. After about 3 weeks I transfer the fry to a sponge filtered 2-5 gallon tank for growout. They become sexable in about 3 months, and ready to spawn at 4-6 months.

If you desire to hatch several eggs at one time this can be accomplished by placing the eggs on wet peat moss. This will allow development but delay hatching until you are ready. Then dump the peat and eggs into a container of dechlorinated water and they should hatch in 24 hours.

Considering their attractiveness and ease of spawning, these killies would make a good starter fish for the killie novice as well as a beautiful addition to the collection of the more advanced breeder.