Sunday, December 16, 2012

Killifish in the Pet Industry

When I was young my father use to get an aquarium magazine and my sister and I use to love looking at the beautiful fish pictures. One aquarium hobbyist magazine always a section devoted to Killifish. There were colorful pictures of fish that we never saw in the aquarium stores; these fish were Killifish.

That was some 30 years ago and I have only rarely seen Killifish for sale in stores since, and even then they were not as spectacular as the ones featured on the pages of the aquarium magazines. Of course I now know that there are different levels of quality among aquarium fish, the most fancy guppies, bettas, and so forth, are never sold in stores, they are sold privately, or often in an auction, this also applies to Killifish. You can also order live Killifish from That Pet Place/That Fish Place. 

Only a few varieties of Killifish are sold in stores if you can find them, with most others traded and sold privately. Killifish are sold as eggs or actual fish. They eggs can be shipped dry as certain Killifish lay their eggs before the ponds dry up so the eggs dry out under normal conditions.

Basic Information on Killifish


photo source - Golden lyretail Killifish


Killifish are fresh, and brackish, water fish, with different species found in and/or around most continents of the world excluding Australia, Antarctica, and Northern Europe. Many species are not as colorful as those featured on the pages of magazines, for example the Devil's Hole Pupfish is a Killifish.

Killifish are a type of carp and there are over 1200 different Killifish known, with more possibly yet to be discovered. 

About Keeping Killifish as Pets

As pets, or in the wild, the lifespan of a Killifish can be as short as nine months for some species, to a maximum of three years for some others. The shortest living Killifish often being referred to as “annuals”, these typically being the ones to lay their eggs in a pond that dries up seasonally, and even when kept in an aquarium that does not “dry up” they still do not live longer. 

photo source - Killifish from Nigeria

Each species will have its own dietary needs with some eating mostly algae, others eating other small fish, and many eating mosquito larvae or other insects. 

Most Killifish are under 2 inches (5cm) in length but some can get as long as 6 inches (15 cm). 

Some Killifish can live in a small school if the aquarium is large enough, while other species prefer to live in a small group with only one male.

The water conditions preferred by each Killi species will vary with some living in fresh water and others in brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt water - which can be made using aquarium salt, but not so much as to create a salt water tank). 

Of the species most commonly sold in pet stores, the Golden Wonder (from India), and Flagfish (from Florida), tend to be the best known. Note that in most places it is illegal to catch Killifish in the wild and keep them as pets without a proper permit, nor can you release unwanted pets into the wild.

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Live Killifish shipped directly to your door at

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