Parent Category: Articles
Hits: 12448

Care And Breeding Of Aphyosemion Australe

Hi to all killifish fans,
Below is a concise article that I have put together pertaining to the species of Killifish commonly known as the Cap Lopez Lyretail (Aphyosemion australe) It should have some content that will be of interest to both novice and ardent enthusiast alike. It is one of the most common species available and the novice will surely own and breed these little beauties at some stage.

Aphyosemion australe (Cap Lopez Lyretail)

A. australe is a beautiful little fish from West Africa, it is one of the most popular and commonly available species of killifish or egglaying toothcarp within the hobby today. Its natural habit is Cap Lopez and surrounding areas in Gabon. In the wild the fish inhabit marshy areas and shallow waterways. Within the confines of the home aquarium this fish is very peaceful, somewhat undemanding and is able to adapt (within reason) to a wide range of conditions which make it an excellent candidate for the community tank. Its lifespan in the aquarium can be up to 3yrs. I keep my Australe in breeding setups but if you wish to keep them in the community tank then they like the lighting to be subdued (use floating plants such as Salvinia) have a dark substrate (light substrates such as sand washes out the colouration) and have the tank heavily planted, this setup will show the species off to it's best advantage. They will withstand a wide pH range (5.0 - 7.0) Their water should be soft to medium hard and a temperature range between 64 to 80 degrees F. can be tolerated. but for longevitity I would suggest a temp of around 72 -74 degrees. They adapt well to any form of commercially prepared foods, flake or frozen but Livefoods, in variety, they really realish. (always feed your fish a varied diet)

Aphyosemion australe comes to us in a wide range of colour varieties but the most common you will hear of are Chocolate, Orange and Spotless Orange with the Chocolate colour form being my favourite. You will often see a fish advertised in this fashion Aphyosemion australe (Chocolate) here you have the name and the colour. Another way you will see a fish advertised will be something like this: Aphyosemion australe EBT 96/27. First you have the species name, the Bold letters indicate the surnames of the people who found it, then you have the year and lastly you have a geographical location number. Quite techie I know but it has to be that way for the purists amongst us and for future reference.
The males of the species will attain a length of around the 70mm mark and the females remaining slightly smaller. The female are much less distinctly coloured than the males, the body colouration of the females will be a fawn colour with an undertimined number of small reddish/brown spots on the body her fins will be predominatly clear and rounded as opposed to the long flowing fins in the male.
Describing the male of the species in words I feel would do it a gross injustice so I urge you to look up pictures of the species and see for yourselves.

This species of Killifish is fairly easy to breed given proper water parameters, for greater success and subsequent larger batches of fry then I would suggest using RO water rather than municipal tapwater. You will still get eggs and fry with tapwater but a lot will fungus and fail to hatch, I do not use any form of artificial lighting when breeding this and most other species of killifish, Killifish eggs are in my estimation light sensitive. A temperature of around 74 degrees F. is ideal.
This species is commonly known as a mop spawner. I use a breeding tank of 18"x8"x8". A lot of books maintain that you can breed this fish in smaller tanks but I would use the size that I have given as an absoloute minimum. In this breeding setup I would place 2-3 floating thick synthitic yarn mops.,7/id,72173/
The tank is totally void of decoration sept for the heater, a small airdriven sponge filter and a very tight fitting cover glass or hood. ( I cannot stress the need for tight fitting lids as these fish can and do jump). Only fill the tank about 2/3 full of water and try to achive a pH of around 5.4 to 6.0. To this water I like to add a teaspoon of Blackwater Extract. This darkens the water somewhat and acts as a kind of conditioner. If you are planning to keep this fish in the community aquarium then a pH of 7.0 or neutral is just fine. I like to seperate the sexes prior to breeding (conditioning) and feed them well on a varied diet of live and frozen foods. The females soon fill with roe (about 1 week) and than they are placed with a large highly coloured male in the breeding tank.
Since the male is very amourous in his courtship and is what is commonly know in killifish circles as an "avid driver" I would include 2 females to one male as a sex ratio for this size of breeding setup. This way I am assured of good egg production whilst it gives one female time to rest as the male chases the other.
Spawning usuall takes place in the mop close to the surface of the water the male will entice the female to a chosen spot in the mop and will wrap his dorsal and anal fins around the female and adopt a charactistic "S" shape then you will notice a sharp jerk, at this point the male will release the female and a single egg will have been deposited within the strands of the mop It will remain there attached to the mop by an adhesive thread.. I usually let this cycle of events carry on for about 5 days (hand picking the eggs off the mops daily) untill I have enough eggs that I know I'll have the room to rear subsequent fry. The sexes are then split up once more and conditioned seperately. If you leave the fish together indefinately in the confines of the breeding setup then they will wear themselves out and become thin and there is a great risk to the mortality of the females, so if you are planning to breed this species in the aforementioned fashion then please "DO" seperate the sexes after you are satisified you have enough eggs to cope with.
The fish (if kept well fed) usually do not eat the eggs, but to be sure I collect the eggs on a daily basis, I would expect to find between 20-35 eggs daily from the above setup. (Note: I still perform waterchanges on a Bi Daily basis within this breeding aquaria with the same water parameters as previously discussed)

Eggs and Fry Rearing
To remove the eggs from the mops, I remove one mop at a time from the breeding tank remembering to cover the tank as I do so ( a great many killifish have been lost by jumping fro the aquarium, even top breeders have lost prize fish because of this) Squeeze out all excess water and place the mop on a piece of kitchen roll. The mop will be damp and you will be able to see the eggs quite clearly. Next I would get a small plastic margarine tub and fill it with around 2" of water from the breeding tank. Now it is time to pick the eggs from the mop. Using my fingers (most top spawning killifish eggs can be harvested form the mops using your fingers but be aware that some cant and you should do some research on the species you are dealing with at that particular time and to the alternitive methods of harvesting the eggs).
The eggs of Aphyosemion australe are around 1mm in diameter and are opaque to slightly amberish in colour. I pick them from the mops one at a time and place them in the margarine tub as described previously. I would place no more than 30 eggs in this tub and then prepare some more tubs in a similar fashion. When I have harvested all the eggs the margarine tubs are floated in the parent tank and are observed on a daily basis for any signs of fungus and abnormalities. ( I personally do not use any form of fungus inhibitors in the egg tubs, a great deal of killifish breeders would use such forms as Scheel's formula, acriflavin and mythelene blue but I get great results without any of the aforementioned chemical preparations). Fungussed eggs (totally white and covered with hair like filiments) should be disgarded immediatly using a pipette for fear of contaminating healthy eggs within the tub.
Over the comming days the eggs will begin to darken, the cells will split and sub-divide until a fully formed fish embryo can be clearly visible (most noticable part will be its eye) Most fry usuall hatch out within 14 - 21 days.
As the fry hatch I move them to a larger 1lb plastic ice-cream tub (using a glass eyedropper or pipette) again with water from the parent tank and this time increase the water depth to around 3". I now begin to feed the fry, They will take Newly hatched brineshrimp straight away coupled with microworms. A word of warning feed fry little and often a do not overfeed any uneaten food should be syphoned off after 1 hour and waterchanges of 30% should be administered on a daily basis. On or around the 4 week mark I like to introduce the fry to a tank of their own (24"x12"x12") with a water depth of around 3" (same stats as before) and using a heater stat. I then, on a daily basis perform waterchanges and add a little more water than before. I also add a litte bit of tap water to this mix as when it come to selling my surplus stock it makes it easer for the recipient to aclimitise their new accquisitions to their tank stats. The fry tank of this size should be around half filled with water at around the 6th week and the fry should just be begining to sex out. ( the males will be starting to show signs of colouring up). I keep filling the tank up slowly untill it is almost full (cover on the tank at this stage) and a sponge filter is added. The fry or juviniles are then introduced to some frozen and dry flake. Don't worry if they disregard this food for a couple of days as it will be foreign and lifeless and they will tend to leave it. Syphon off any uneaten food as always and keep persisting to offer this type of foodstuff. Eventually they will all be eating it. Still remember to contine using the livefoods though as a varied diet is essential.

I think I have covered most of the husbandry of both keeping and breeding this beautiful species of killifish but if there is anything you feel I have omitted then feel free to contact me. A good number of killifish breed in the same style as Aphyosemion australe and the above method can be used for them only difference being is the water quality and stats. If you decide to use the above information in breeding your Australe then I know you will have a great deal of sucess which will give you the confidence to delve deeper into the fascinating world of KILLIFISH!


Aphyosemion australe is a beautiful killifish from the Gabon in West Africa and is easily adaptable to the comunity aquarium.

Breeding Overview

Tank size: 18"x8"x8"
Decor: Adults - bare tank with floating mops, Fry - Java Moss
Water: Soft 50-100ppm - pH 5.4 - 6.0
Temperature: 72 - 77 F
Waterchanges: Bi Daily (10%) for breeders and Daily (30%) 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.