Well, dear guest, you probably got attracted by some beautiful small fish, maybe you heard about their interesting behavior, or for some other reason but you are thinking to get killifish. So, let me help you out with some information about that fish.

My number one suggestion is to become a member of AKA (America Killifish Association, http://www.aka.org), or local club (in South Florida it is SEFKA Killi Club) because as soon as you do so, you’ll get access to a lot information, but most importantly you get access to the beginner’s guide.

Well, let see, if for some reason you decided to skip the first suggestion, maybe because you just bought eggs or fish, you aren’t sure that killifish is your destiny, and etc., let me share some basic information with you. For all killifish gurus, please close your eyes or go to some other pages on my web site.

First of all, killifish do not kill other fish; some species are aggressive to each other but in most cases it is pretty friendly fish. The natural habitat for most of the killis are small puddles, and since some puddles dry out during the dry season, killifish developed an interesting adapting technique for that type of environment. Their eggs can survive without water for some time (for some species for a couple of years). Some killifish live only 3 months; these grow very quickly.

Types of killifish

Usually people divide killifish into three main categories: non-annual, semi-annual, and annual killifish. Non-annual species live longer but mature slower, and the eggs’ incubation happens in the water. Semi-annual species live almost as long as non-annual and mature little bit faster; their eggs’ incubation can be in water or in dry peat (that’s what I do). Annual species live a short life, some of them only 3 months, some 1.5 years, and mature very fast; the majority of them are ready to breed when they are 2 months old. This group requires dry incubation time and the eggs can survive long time without water.

Killifish Diet

Unfortunately, your favorite flake food is not good for killifish, because even though they are small fish, they like to eat live or frozen food (I use frozen bloodworms). Some killifish keepers grow their own food (you can get this info from the beginner’s guide, see, I told you to become a member of the AKA!). Some fish species like Fp. gardneri might accept flakes, but if you’re going to breed them, you should get them some real food.

I’ve Got Some Killifish Eggs, What Should I Do?

Well, first of all, you would need to know what exactly did you get, and what kind of killifish is that. Another suggestion is to buy a small but very useful book written by my friend Todor Metchkov, because this book is a quick guide that will help you identify what kind incubation the eggs require. If it’s non-annual species you should put the eggs in the water as soon as possible, and then add aeration and methylene blue. If it’s a semi-annual species it would depend on the incubation the fish requires; if it’s wet, put them in water, if it’s dry, wait until the eggs are ready.

A Short Guide to Killifish World
Todor Metchkov
A Short Guide to Killifish World

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Ready-to-Hatch

I would like to tell you what “ready-to-hatch” means. This is a crucial term for a killifish keeper and breeder; it’s basically the embryo’s condition when the fry is ready leave the egg. How can you determine that? Well, if you decided to work with killifish you should purchase some kind of magnifying equipment. If you have a microscope, that would work the best. This is how a ready to hatch egg looks like under a microscope. When the egg looks like that, you have about 15 days to wet the eggs.

Ready to Hatch Egg Under a Microscope
Ready to Hatch Egg Under a Microscope

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Wetting Killifish Eggs

When you detect that the eggs are ready to hatch, you just put peat moss with the eggs into a container and add about an inch (2.5 cm) of de-chlorinated water, and then add aeration and methylene blue.

Hatching Fry

Unlike other fish, killifish fry do not hatch all at the same time; it might take several weeks, and sometimes several attempts of drying and wetting peat moss with the eggs. The majority of killifish fry eat baby brine shrimp immediately after hatching, but some require infusoria. I usually move the fry to another container, because I don’t want to spoil the water in the hatching container.

Why Aren’t Eggs Hatching?

Sometimes even ready eggs don’t hatch, and there are many reasons why. So what do you do if that happens? There are different methods that different people use, I myself dry the peat moss and wet it again 2-3 weeks afterwards. Sometimes adding fresh de-chlorinated water helps, too. Some people add small worms to the hatching container, and that will reduce the amount of oxygen. This alerts the fish that food is served, and they start hatching.

Little Bit About Buying Killifish Eggs

Well, buying eggs is sort of like gambling, even from a breeder that you know very well. First of all, the incubation time is so long anything could have happened. Second, transit always affects incubation time, though I’m not sure why. So when you receive eggs, always check if they are ready to hatch, or if the eggs survived at all. So, my advice is to not give up if things don’t work out the first time, just try more, and/or ask questions from sellers.

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