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Fp.gardneri Killifish


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Hi all, Since I've promised a few of you a write up on how to keep and breed your gardneri killies successfully, I thought I'll put it in here for others to benefit later on. Apologies for the late write up but family stuff kept me away for a while. For those of you who I've sent/given pairs your fish now should be old enough to breed successfully. Their brothers and sisters in my tanks started giving me fertile eggs. Check your spawning mops carefully. I'll split the post a little bit...

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Currently there are a number of different localities of Fundulopanchax gardneri available in Australia. These are:

Fundulopanchax gardneri :


Akure Blue





Fundulopanchax nigerianus:

Jos Plateau


It is very very important that fish from different localities do not get mixed as usually it is impossible to tell the females apart and you do not want any hybridization to occur, as it is a real possibility.

As is the case above in time what is a locality of gardneri can be classified as a new species. In the past Fundulopanchax gardneri was classified as Aphyosemion gardneri.

For all intends and purposes all the fish listed above behave in very much the same way.

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Gardneri can be kept as pairs , trios (1M2F) or in groups. Depending on number of fish small tanks are all that is needed for successfully keeping these fish.

Regularly my pairs are housed and breed in tanks that are 15to25 litres.

Killies in general prefer room temperature and gardneri are no different. A tank set up for temperature to not to exceed 24 degrees C is ideal. They'll be quite comfortable between 20-24 degrees C. Therefore you'd not need a heater in their tank most of the year.

Painting the bottom and back wall of the tank black (from outside ofcourse) will not only allow the fish to settle quickly but will show of their colours to best advantage. You can also attach black cardboard to achieve same effect.

As long as you are keeping up with your water changes you do not really need a filter in their tank. Having said that, having an air driven sponge or corner filter will go a long way in maintaining water quality in the small tank.

So a typical gardneri tank will have:

*black bottom and back, therefore you do not need any substrate in the tank.

*an air driven filter - gently bubbling, not creating a vortex!!!

*a plant - java fern, anubias or bolbitis, or any other plant that does not require a substrate and can take reduced light levels

*sinking spawning mop

*tight fitting lid - all killifish are expert jumpers!!!

*a pair of gardneri

*and aged, cycled water

for larger tanks just increase the number of plants and spawning mops

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Feeding gardneri is straight forward. Once they are used to their environment they are good feeders. Anything you have on hand will literally do the job.

Live and frozen food will be prefered by most fish and killifish are not different in this regard. Infact all killifish are efficient hunters therefore insects and other invertebrates do form bulk of their food in the wild. Feeding live and frozen food will increase egg production.

In captivity, gardneri would take flakes, granules and powdered food with no problems, given they recognise these items as food. Feed small amounts to make sure all food is consumed. Your killies will hang around the spot expecting some more food to be dropped in!

As a general rule I do not feed my adult killifish upto 2 days a week. Your fish will thank you for it.

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Killifish in general are not prolific egg layers. This is one of the reasons why most commercial ornamental fish hatcheries do not bother to breed killifish, fry per unit effort is fairly high compared to most other groups of fish.

Having said all of that since at home we are not interested in raising comercial quantities of fish this is not an obsticle.

Although killifish are not prolific, they can breed for extended periods of time. You might be able to find 1 to 20 eggs everyday for weeks at a time. This sparodic egg laying might create challenges when you are trying to grow a bunch of fry together. But we'll get into that in Raising The Fry.

Gardneri will spawn over gravel (reason why we do not have any gravel in the above mentioned set-up), bushy plants etc. Most people will provide gardneri with spawning mops, which enables us to find the eggs and pick them off for incubation relatively easy.

Spawning Mop: Is literally a mini mop head made from acrylic yarn. The reason we use acrylic yarn as oppose to natural fibres is that natural fibres tend to get fuzzy and break (rot really!) in the water in short order.

Posted Image

Most people prefer dark green yarn -Aussie Green&Gold's green is perfect- to other colours. But other ccolours work as well. So material needed to make a spawning mop are:

*acrylic yarn - dark green maybe!


*a book

Open the cover of the book and put the tip of the yarn on the page. Close to cover trapping the yarn. Wind the yarn around the book 30 to 50 times. The more you do it thicker the mop will be. Once finished tie all the strands together on one end with a piece of yarn. Cut all the strands on the opposite end. What you have is a spawning mop! Obviously the size of the book will determine the length of the mop.

Most gardneri will prefer mops that are on the bottom of the tank. Therefore all you have to do is drop the mop in your tank and it will sink in a day or two. If you are in a hurry push the mop under water and get the mop water logged.

If you make a number of mops it is a good idea to have a floating mop as well. Just tie a wine cork or similar to where all the yarn strands are tied together. This way the mop will float and all the yarn strands will be hanging down.

As for breeding just feed your killies as per usual and check your mops regularly for eggs!

Checking the Mops for Eggs:

How often you want to check the eggs is up to you. But more often you check the mops more eggs you are likely to find - just remember to give them time to spawn!!!

Lift the mops out of the tank making sure none of the fish hiding in them! Either hang the mops on the side of the tank or a bucket so that excess water can drip off. I would give it about half hour to dry. Dryer the mop easier to find the eggs. Eggs are 2-3 mm in diameter. If they have been spawned a while ago (another advantage of waiting for 30min) and are fertile the eggs are fairly tough and easily handled.

Pick the eggs of with your fingers and place them in a small plastic container with water from the parents tank. Some people add funguside to the water others don't, it is up to you what you do. If all the eggs are going off put funguside in otherwise don't bother.

The eggs should hatch in 14+ days depending on temperature. Warmer quicker, colder slower.

Another method of incubating the eggs is to put them over a layer of moist peat moss. In this method the fungused eggs are easily removed and the eggs take a little longer to develop. Works great if most of the eggs you are collecting are getting fungused.

Permanent Set-up Breeding Method:

This method is also known as the natural breeding method. It involves a slightly larger well planted tank with substrate.

The pair or trio is left in the tank permanently and you start to wait for fry to appear. Although to increase success rate I recommend using pairs instead of trios. The fry hatch and start growing in the parents tank.

As long as the parents are well fed they ignore the fry that appear. Or more likely they eat some of the eggs and some of the fry that appear but enough survive to get the generations going.

In this sort of set-up if you want to maximize number of fry you get, just fish out the cm long juveniles you see. These juveniles will hunt their newly hatched siblings so by taking them out you'll give the new kids a chance to grow.

Rotating Permanent Set-up Method:

You set the tank identical to the above. Infact you set-up upto 4 or 5 identical tanks.

You put the pair or trio of well conditioned gardneri in the first tank. You leave them there and feed only with live foods. At the end of 2 weeks take the pair or trio and place them into tank #2.

At the end of the second two weeks as you transfer the gardneri into tank #3 you should already see quite a large number of fry growing in tank #1. By the time you go through all the tanks the now juveniles in tank #1 are ready to move into another tank and the cycle can start all over again.

Sending/Receiving Eggs In The Mail:

Because of the killifish eggs ability to survive periods of drying as long as moisture is maintained enables killifish keepers to post egg to neighbouring cities and even to countries far away.

Eggs are posted/received in water or in moist peatmoss.

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Raising gardneri fry is fairly straight forward. When hatched the gardneri fry are big enough to feed on BBS and microworms or any other fry food that you use. It is better to feed small amounts of food more regularly than to dump large amounts of food once a day.

As a matter of rule I always keep a few ramshorn snails in the fry raising tank/container to feed on excess food and promote the growth of infusaria.

Some people raise the fry in small containers (1 to 3 litres) for the first few weeks of life, others prefer to raise the fry in small tanks if space is not an issue.

If you are raising the fry in containers having a hardy plant or two in there; like java fern and/or java moss, a few ramshorn snails and regular partial water changes is a must if you hope to raise quality fish. Having gentle bubling from an air pump will also help.

If the fry grow at different rates you might want to seperate the largest ones to prevent sibling predation. At about 2cm you'll see the first evidence of fin markings, which will indicate the sex of the fry.

Coming up...



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Thanks so much for the information. I cant wait for the raising fry section. Keith (hands free) was very kind and sent me some eggs/peat and the fry are about 3 days old now. Started with about 60 fry but so far have lost about 25 now... the ones that have died seem to be curled up. I wonder if I am adding too much salt? Anyway... better stop before I hijack the thread.... Thanks again Serkan for your help. It is really helpful.

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  • 5 years later...

:lol: I just googled this!

OK now to the sad part:

Of all the gardneri localities listed above we only have N'sukka and Golden still here!!! Others have disappeared or people who have them do not have internet connection!!! I've been trying to re-acquire them with no luck. :((

On the other hand we now have:


Udi Berge


also available! Imagine if the others were around it would have been awesome!

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