This subject has been brought to my attention more times than I care to remember. The story would always be something along the lines of "Why have all my neons dissapeared" and when they revealed the rest of their tank inhabitants it was no suprise that Aplochelius lineatus was on that list. (mostly the Gold colour morph). These fish look very inviting to the ill informed aquarist when he or she spies them in their LFS tanks. Usually available around the 40mm size. Admitadily they do look stunning under the correct conditions. But beware all is not what it seems, this gentle giant stalks its prey and any small tetra is fair game. Due to the continuing sucession of similar posts I have decided to put pen to paper once more to cataloge the general care and maintainence of this beautiful Killifish.
Aplocheilus lineatus (Striped Panchax)
Aplocheilus lineatus is a fairly large robust killi which comes from the coastal/mid areas of India and Sri Lanka. There have been many colour forms circulating within the hobby of late, most notably is the "Gold" variety. This is the most common form found in our tanks today as it has a more striking colouration than the natural true striped variety.
Its natural habitat is varied as it is found in high altitude rivers, streams and reservoirs equally it is also common in lower lying lakes and paddy fields, it too has adapted to brackish conditions. This fish is very adaptable and its perhaps this trait that makes it easy to keep and breed in the home aquarium.
As I've already mentioned this is a quite large toothcarp which dwells on the surface waiting for an easy meal, it has been used quite sucessfully for mosquito control.
It should be kept in an aquarium no smaller than 90cms and will do quite well in water with a neutral pH, slightly soft and a temperature around 22-25'C. They can get to around 10cms in the home aquarium given the space and a varied diet which should always include some live varieties.
Aplo lineatus possess a body shape thats indicitive of most of the genus, a body shape that is elongated and a turned up mouth region. The fins are round in shape and the back is slightly arched. The back has a bronze colouration and this becomes bronze to bronze/olive green on the flanks. Every other scale has a metallic Yellow/Gold appearance giving it a glow of irredescence The gill and head area is a yellowish white colour. The body also possesses nine black indistinctive stripes varying in depth and shade. In recent years there has been many colour variants on show ranging from the natural striped variety to captive bred Gold form. In the gold form all or most of the males scales are metallic yellow. Some of the other variants have more red colouration in the unpaired fins.
Sex & Breeding
Sometimes sexing this species can be a bit difficult, But in general the males are larger and a bright yellow and the females are smaller and a lot paler. The males also have longer more pointed anal fins, while the females fins are slightly rounded. The males also have fainter transversebands whilst the females bars are slightly more pronounced and a little wider. Sexing can also be performed by bagging the fish and shining a torch under the fishes abdomen. In the females belly region you should be able to spot egg sacs.
This fish is very easy to breed and rear and even the complete killifish novice should have little or no trouble rearing a batch of these beautiful fish to adulthood. They will even breed in the community tank (conditions apply when keeping with smaller fishes)
But for a more fruitful breeding program I afford my fish with a tank of 18"X10"X10" (7.79 gallons US or 6.49 UK)
The water should be slightly soft and acidic with a pH of around 6.7
This tank should have no decoration except for an air driven sponge filter, Heater/Stat set to 25'C and some man made floating mops (large)
I would always employ a ratio of one male to two females (Seperated and fully conditioned, fed with live foods for about a week prior) into a setup like this.
The male will constantly chase the females into the mops, where they will lay and fertilise a single egg each time.
Eggs and Fry Rearing
Aplo. lineatus eggs are very large and you can either collect the eggs on a daily basis or leave them in the breeding tank and remove the parents after about a week.
I like to collect the eggs, I do this on a daily basis when breeding such species. I use margarine tubs floated in the parent tank with a water depth of around 40mm. The eggs will be quite large for a killifish and opaque/whitish in colour. They are quite hard to the touch and can whthstand handling very well. I place around a dozen eggs in each tub and provide the tub with an airline set to a slow trickle. The eggs beging to go through many cell dividing processes over the period o 10-14 days whereby they hatch into perfectly formed fish fry. They now will be looking for a meal. Being fairly large fry lineatus can accept newly hatched brineshrimp from the outset coupled with microworm and finley crushed fish flakes. I feed around 3 times per day, dont over feed as that small body of water will soon foul and you will lose fry. They wont present any problems on that score, but as always keep the fry tubs clean and change 10-20% of their water daily.
A handy tool I like to use for keeping fry tubs clean is a syringe coupled to a piece of ordinary airline.
They will grow quickly given the above rearing methods. Then I would move them on to 1lb Ice Cream cartons and continue feeding as above maybe include some Grindalworm into their diet. With fry development going on at different rates provision must be provided to size grading within the tubs to help curtail sibling rivalry.
After this its plain sailing and move them on to a larger rearing tank proper. I would ween out the runts at this stage and discard.
This is a beautiful if quite large Killifish sp. I particularly like the Wild form but most of you may encounter the Gold form more often these days as it will have more of a commercial value to the LFS. Either way its nice Beginners killifish to start you on the road within this particular niche in fishkeeping. One species all killiifish enthuiasts should keep and breed atleast once. Always bear in mind that this species is a fairly large predator and will take any small fish as food. It posesses a cavernous mouth that can open quite wide to consume such prey. So be wary when you see this beautiful species in dealers tanks, think before you buy. It is truely a "Wolf in Sheeps clothing"
Nice easy Killi to get the beginner used to breeding techniques. They present no real problems in all aspects of their husbandry
Tank size: 18"x10"x10"
Decor: Adults - bare tank with floating mops, Fry - Java Moss
Water: Fairly Soft 80 ppm - pH 6.6 - 6.8
Waterchanges: Bi Daily (10%) for breeders and Daily (10-20%) for fry.
Filtration: Air driven sponge filters set to a trickle.
Feeding: little and often especially fry, remember to syphon off uneaten food.
Lighting: no artificial lighting.
A tight fitting lid or coverglass is essential
Thank you for taking the time to read through this long and informative article, I hope it will help someone starting out to keep killifish and also hobbyists who are having difficulity with this species.