Maximum size : 6 cm

Lyretail Killifish - Aphyosemion australe : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Lyretail Killifish (Aphyosemion australe) possess a striking allure that captivates aquarists, making them a highly sought-after addition to community aquariums. Renowned for their splendid beauty, these peaceful fish are particularly well-suited for beginners in the hobby. Within the realm of Killifish species, the Lyretail Killifish holds a prominent position as one of the most widespread and accessible varieties. Exhibiting two distinct colour forms, enthusiasts can choose between the alluring "chocolate" hue of the wild type and the vividly bred "gold" variant, adorned in a radiant orange splendour.

To provide an ideal environment for the Lyretail Killifish, a small, soft water aquarium serves as their sanctuary, adorned with abundant plant life and strategically placed bogwood. Ensuring effective peat filtration and gentle water movement is paramount, replicating the tranquil nature of their natural habitats. These delicate fish also appreciate the presence of surface cover, which can be achieved through the addition of floating plants. However, securing a tightly-fitting lid for the aquarium is imperative, as these agile jumpers possess remarkable leaping abilities.

Care must be taken when selecting tankmates for the Lyretail Killifish due to their inherently timid disposition. Ideally, smaller Tetras, Micro Rasboras, Dwarf Gouramis, Dwarf Cichlids, Catfish, and smaller Loaches make suitable companions, fostering a harmonious coexistence. However, caution should be exercised to avoid pairing them with larger, more aggressive, or boisterous species, as the Lyretail Killifish may be outcompeted for sustenance.

In terms of physical characteristics, the male Lyretail Killifish showcases a captivating tapestry of hues. A lustrous brown body embellished with vibrant red dots and markings forms the backdrop for their enchanting appearance. The area behind their head shines resplendently in a pearlescent green hue, while the anal, caudal, and dorsal fins adopt a delicate pale brown shade adorned with mesmerizing red dots. Notably, the dorsal and anal fin rays of more mature males often extend, a distinctive attribute that adds to their allure. The fish's namesake, the Lyre-shaped caudal fin, steals the spotlight, flaunting ethereal white fin extensions that can stretch up to 6 mm or more.

In contrast, the females of the Lyretail Killifish exude a more subdued presence. Adorned in a darker shade of brown, their bodies feature fewer red dots, while their caudal fins adopt a rounded shape devoid of the elongated extensions seen in their male counterparts.

Notably, a captivating golden-orange colour variation has emerged as a mutation of the chocolate form. Discovered by breeder Hjerresen, it was initially referred to as Aphyosemion australe hjerreseni, though this terminology is inaccurate. Nonetheless, these alluring variants captivate breeders who have successfully propagated magnificent strains of this variation.

Lyretail Killifish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Lyretail Killifish is a straightforward task. The males exhibit distinctive characteristics that set them apart from the females. Typically, the males are larger in size, boasting more vibrant and striking colouration. They showcase eye-catching extensions in their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins, which add to their visual appeal. On the other hand, the females are relatively smaller and possess a more subdued colouration. They tend to have a rounder belly and fins compared to their male counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAphyosemion australe
Year Described1921
Other NamesLyretail Panchax, Golden Panchax, Cape Lopez Lyretail
Max Size6 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 3 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.5 - 7.0
GH 3 - 12
TDS 18 - 179
Ideal Temperature
69 - 89
20 - 31

Natural Habitat

Lyretail Killifish are native to the coastal regions of Gabon in Africa, particularly in Cape Lopez near the mouth of the Ogooué River. These remarkable fish inhabit various permanent water bodies, including swamps and small streams, which are nestled amidst lush forest vegetation. Their natural distribution spans significant areas of the country's coastline, where they have adapted to thrive in these serene aquatic environments.


To successfully breed Lyretail Killifish, it is advisable to establish a dedicated breeding tank designed to meet their specific requirements. Optimal conditions include a dimly lit environment, as both the eggs and fry are light-sensitive. The water in the breeding tank should be very soft, maintaining a temperature consistent with the fish's usual aquarium to ensure proper spawning and egg development.

A gentle air-powered sponge filter is recommended when setting up the breeding tank, providing adequate filtration without creating excessive water flow. Incorporating floating plants and spawning mops will facilitate the spawning process and serve as suitable surfaces for egg deposition. Creating a dark backdrop by utilizing dark-coloured surfaces for the tank's back, sides, and bottom will help minimize light exposure. Additionally, the breeding tank should be positioned in an area with minimal natural light. The use of Blackwater Extract can further enhance the water's aesthetic, imparting a subtle tea-coloured hue while reducing light levels.

Prior to introducing the fish to the breeding tank, it is advisable to condition the males and females separately in an aquarium with a slightly lower temperature than the breeding tank. Once the fish are prepared, careful acclimatization of one male and two or three females into the breeding tank should be conducted. Spawning will typically occur near the water's surface, with females depositing individual eggs on the spawning mops or floating plants using sticky threads. Females can lay a variable number of eggs daily, ranging from 20 to 50, for a couple of weeks.

Under well-fed conditions, adult Lyretail Killifish generally do not prey on their own eggs, allowing them to be left in the breeding tank. However, if desired, the eggs can be carefully hand-picked from the mops or plants and transferred to a separate rearing tank. For added protection against fungal growth, using methylene blue in the rearing tank is a practical option. Any eggs showing signs of fungus should be promptly removed with a pipette to prevent spreading to unaffected eggs.

Depending on the temperature, the eggs will typically hatch within approximately 14 days. Initially, the fry will rely on their yolk sacs as a source of nourishment. Once the yolk sacs are consumed, providing suitable food is crucial for their continued development. Infusoria can serve as an initial food source, gradually transitioning to baby brine shrimp, microworms, and crushed flake food as the fry grows.

Maintaining excellent water quality in the rearing tank is paramount, as Lyretail Killifish fry are susceptible to velvet disease. Regular small water changes every 2 to 3 days are highly recommended to optimize their survival rate and ensure a healthy environment for their growth.

Diet & feeding

Lyretail Killifish display a versatile feeding behaviour and readily accepts various food options. They are not known for being overly selective, making them relatively undemanding in terms of diet. These fish typically consume high-quality dried foods such as flakes and granules, which provide essential nutrients for their well-being. Additionally, they willingly consume small live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods, including bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Offering a diverse menu ensures their nutritional needs are met and promotes their overall health and vitality.

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