Written by Denyce K. Trudeau
Fundulopanchax gardneri Akure is a relatively new species of killifish now available to the tropical fish hobbyist. Natively found in Africa, this species is found in swampy ponds where the water is still and very often stagnant.
At maturity, the male reaches approximately 2 ½ inches; the female approximately 2 inches. The sexes are easily distinguished. The female is a drab brown with a reddish cast highlighting on the body; only a few red spots add color to her, while the body color of the male is turquoise blue with heavy red spotting. At the base of each fin is a stripe of bright red. This red stripe is edged with lemon yellow which extends to the tips of the fins. The tail of the female is rounded, whereas, the tail of the male is elongated and resembles a lyre tail.
Prepared foods are only accepted when very hungry. G. Akure definitely prefers small living foods such as live Tubifex worms, adult brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. When live foods are furnished, coloring is more brilliant and activity level is noticeably higher. In order for mature specimens to be in optimum condition for breeding, live foods should be fed exclusively.
Water conditions are not critical. They seem to prefer, though, a container of approximately 2 gallons in size filled with well aged water. While filtering and heat are tolerated, they are at their best in water within a temperature range of 70 to 74 degrees which is perfectly still. When the water moves as a result of filtering, they most often hide in the plants or behind rocks that are used for landscaping. When the water is still, they are seen swimming out in the open with no signs of being timid. They are most active and their color is best seen when the water has a pH value of between 6. and 6.4.. When researching killifish, we most often find that it is recommended that some salt be added to their water. However, through experimenting with this species, I personally found that they become stressed when even the smallest amount of salt is present in their water. For that reason I chose not to add any salt at all.
After purchasing a pair of g. Akure, I acclimated them into a tank that I had previously set up as follows:
- A 2 gallon drum bowl,
- 2 ½ inches black gravel (the eggs show up better against dark colored gravel),
- A small piece of petrified wood (to help in keeping the pH in the proper range, for shelter, and for landscaping purposes,
- Water - temperature at 72 degrees; pH at 6.2,
- Moderately planted with live Mondo Grass and Amazon Swords, Water Sprite floating on surface,
- Lighting was provided by a 7-watt incandescent bulb in a Shell-light.
After being acclimated for approximately 15 minutes, they were released into the bowl and settled in right away.
They were fed live mosquito larvae in the morning and live Tubifex worms in the afternoon and evening. When live mosquito larvae and adult brine shrimp are not available, 3 small feedings of live Tubifex worms are suggested.
Eight days later the male began chasing the female around the tank. Eggs were laid both on the bottom among the plant bases and at the waters surface among the Water Sprite. At this time, using a bulb-type turkey baster, ½ of the water in the tank was removed and put into a 2-gallon rectangular tank. Some of the Water Sprite was taken out and put into the second tank. This served two purposes: any eggs that happened to be on the plants would be transferred; and to provide shelter and hiding places for the fry once they hatched. Aged water, kept at 70 degrees with a pH reading of 6.2 was taken out of a 5-gallon bucket and added to the original tank. More Water Sprite was also added to the tank. Using the baster, eggs found at the bottom of the tank were siphoned and put into the hatching tank. Each time eggs were added to the hatching tank, the water level would slowly be raised; thus not shocking the eggs with fresh tap water. The eggs are easily harvested when dark gravel is used; looking a lot like small glass beads. They are easily picked off the plants. The fertile eggs are very hard. Infertile eggs dissolve instantly when picked up. Approximately 7 to 10 eggs are found daily for about 14 days in a row. Then for 6 to 8 days there is a resting period when no eggs are found. After this resting period, eggs will again be laid and found.
The eggs hatch in approximately 10 days when the water temperature is 72 degrees. Sometimes the temperature may rise to around 76 degrees because of the heat radiated from the lights or an increase in room temperature. When the water reaches 76 degrees or higher, the eggs take at least 16 days to hatch. The reason for this is unknown. When first hatched the fry are very small and look a lot like splinters. They are free swimming immediately.
Either infusoria or liquid fry food make excellent first foods for the first week. Because growth is rapid, after the first week they may be fed newly hatched brine shrimp. Feeding small amounts 3 times daily proved to be sufficient. At this point growth rate is even faster and the fry have to be separated according to size or the larger fry will begin to eat the smaller ones.
Because g. Akure prefer aged water, water changes of 10% weekly were done. If not overfed, this is more than sufficient to keep the water clear and clean.
Once the fry were about ½ inch long, newly hatched Paradise Fish fry were fed. I have 3 pairs of Paradise Fish that each spawn once every week. I encourage their spawning for the purpose of using the fry as feeders. This is an excellent source of food for two reasons. One, the fry are still young enough to have their yolk sacs, thus providing a high protein diet; second, unlike newly hatched brine shrimp, the Paradise Fish fry don’t die after being in the tank for an extended period of time. This eliminates the danger of fouling the water by overfeeding. Many people find the use of fry as feeders as mean and cruel; while the majority or aquarists totally accept this as part of aquatic life. I mean to offend no one. If though, I have, please know that it is not intentional. Fundulopanchax gardneri Akure is a beautiful and easy species of fish to keep. For those with limited available space, it is an excellent fish to keep; as are most species of killifish.
At the rate that this pair is spawning, I’m sure to have plenty to go around.