Max Size: 6cm

Lyretail Killifish (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killifish are stunning, somewhat shy, peaceful fish that are suitable for a community aquarium and the beginner aquarist. These fish are among the most widespread Killifish species available in the hobby, and they come in two colours' the wild types, which are brown and called 'chocolate', and the artificially bred 'gold' form that is bright orange.

Lyretail Killifish is best maintained as a single male and female pair in a small soft water aquarium with plenty of plants and some bogwood. Peat filtration is highly recommended, and the water movement should be gentle to simulate the slow-moving waters that these fish inhabit in the wild. These fish will also appreciate some surface cover from floating plants, and you must make sure your aquarium has a tight-fitting lid as these fish are remarkable jumpers.

Tankmates for the Lyretail Killifish should be chosen with care due to their timid nature. Ideal tankmates could include smaller Tetras, Micro Rasboras, Dwarf Gouramis, Dwarf Cichlids, Catfish, and smaller Loaches. However, you should avoid housing these fish with much more significant, aggressive or more boisterous species; otherwise, they will easily outcompete them for food.

The body colour of the male Lyretail Killifish is brown, and lots of red dots and markings contrast it. The area behind their head is a bright pearlescent green, and the anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are pale brown with red dots. The fin rays on their dorsal and anal fins are often expanded on more aged males, but the attractive Lyre-shaped caudal fin gives the fish its name of Lyretail; the white fin extensions can extend by 6 mm or more. Like most killifishes, the females are dull compared, being a darker brown with fewer red dots on their body, and the caudal fin is rounded and doesn't show the long extensions seen in the males.

There is also a golden-orange colour variation of this species which is simply a mutation of the chocolate form. Here the chocolate brown colours on the body are replaced by bright orange. This variant was described in 1953 by Meinken as Aphyosemion australe hjerreseni after the breeder Hjerresen, who discovered the first orange variant in his collection; however, that name is not accurate. Nevertheless, these fish are undoubtedly more attractive than the original chocolate strain, and some breeders breed tremendous strains of this variant.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameAphyosemion australe
Year Described1921
Other NamesLyretail Panchax, Golden Panchax, Cape Lopez Lyretail
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Lifespanup to 3 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.0
GH3 - 12
TDS18 - 179
69 - 89℉
20.6 - 31.7℃


Lyretail Killifish
Lyretail Killifish

Natural Habitat

Lyretail Killifish are endemic to Cape Lopez, which is close to the mouth of the Ogooué River in Gabon in Africa and is known over considerable areas of lowland along much of the country's coastline. These fish inhabit permanent water bodies like swamps and small streams that are surrounded by forest vegetation.


Lyretail Killifish are not particularly fussy and will usually accept good quality dried foods such as flakes and granules as well as small live, frozen and freeze-dried foods like bloodworm, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp and daphnia.

Sexual Dimorphism

It is simple to differentiate between the male and female Lyretail Killifish. The males are usually larger, more vibrantly coloured and have extensions to their anal, caudal and dorsal fins. In contrast, the females are smaller, duller in colour and much more rounder in their belly. Females also have rounder fins than males.


It would be best if you set up a separate breeding tank; this tank should be unlit as the eggs and fry are sensitive to light, and the water will need to be very soft. The temperature will need to be about the same as their usual aquarium; otherwise, if too hot, then the fish may stop spawning, or the eggs will not develop. It would be better to use a gentle air-powered sponge filter, and the tank will need to have some floating plants and spawning mops.

You will achieve the best results if the back, sides and the bottom of the tank are dark and the tank is positioned in a place that does not receive much natural light. Using Blackwater Extract can also help give the water a tea-coloured hint, reducing the light level.

It would be best to condition the males and females separately in an aquarium with a slightly lower temperature than the breeding tank. Then, when you are ready, you should carefully acclimatise one male and 2 or 3 females into the breeding tank.

Spawning will occur near the water's surface, and the females will lay one egg at a time on the spawning mops or floating plants by a sticky thread. Females can lay anything from 20 to 50 eggs a day which continues over a couple of weeks.

Typically, the adults do not prey on the eggs if well-fed, so they can be left in the breeding tank until you want to remove them. However, if you wish to move the eggs to another raising tank, they are firm and can be hand-picked off the mops and plants. It is probably more practical if you did separate the eggs; that way, if you wish, you can add methylene blue into the raising tank to prevent your eggs from getting fungus. If any eggs start to fungus, you should remove them as soon as possible with a pipette to prevent it from spreading to other eggs.

Depending on the temperature, the eggs will usually hatch within 14 days, and the fry will initially feed on their yolk sac. Once their yolk sacs have been consumed, you should then provide them with infusoria, moving on to baby brine shrimp, microworms and crushed flake food as they develop.

It would help if you took extra care when it comes to the raising tank's water quality because the Killifish fry is susceptible to velvet disease; therefore, it is essential that you perform small water changes every 2 or 3 days for the best survival rate.

Other Killifish of interest

American Flagfish(Jordanella floridae)
Blue Striped Rivulus Killifish(Rivulus Xiphidius, Laimosemion xiphidius)
Bluefin Notho(Nothobranchius rachovii)
Clown Killifish(Epiplatys annulatus)
Eggers Killifish(Nothobranchius eggersi)
Mamou Killifish(Scriptaphyosemion guignardi mamou)
View all Killifish
Date Added: 19/05/2022 15:07:35 - Updated: 19/05/2022 15:33:19