Clown Killifish: Care, Size, Breeding & Tank Mates


Common Name(s)Clown Killifish, Banded Panchax
Scientific NameEpiplatys annulatus
OriginWest Africa
Temperature(68-79°F (20–26°C)
Size1.2-1.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size5 gallons
Food & DietCarnivorous diet (prefers live fish food)
Lifespan3-5 years
Water pH4.0-7.0
Tank MatesSmall peaceful fish
BreedingSpawn eggs on moss
DiseaseMay be susceptible to Ich and Fluke.
Clown Killifish
Clown Killifish (Epiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish Facts

Clown Killifish are one of the most social species of fish; they’re also extremely curious. When you walk past the tank, they’ll often swim close to the glass to see what’s going on. Their colorful pattern and upbeat demeanor will quickly make them a favorite in your tank. Killifish comes from the Dutch word for a channel, which makes sense because they’re found in slow-moving streams, or swamps in Africa.

Clown Killifish Care

Clown Killifish aren’t too hard to keep and care for, and their small size makes them an excellent choice for smaller tanks. They’re also predators, which means they most likely won’t eat frozen food, requiring live food, preferably insects.

Clown Killifish Temperature

Clown Killifish’s requirements aren’t too intensive, and a heater is recommended to avoid fluctuations in temperature. On average, any tank containing a Clown Killifish should be kept between 68 – 79° F or 20 – 26°C.

Clown Killifish Water pH

The natural environment of Clown Killifish is the slightly acidic waters of Western Africa. Because of this, clown Killifish prefer pH levels ranging between 4-7.

Clown Killifish Size

Clown Killifish are on the smaller side of the spectrum. The colorful fish usually reaches just above an inch in length, averaging between 1.2 and 1.4 inches. Their small size means they can fit perfectly in a small or nano-sized tank.

Clown Killifish Tank Size

Clown Killifish are relatively small, averaging just over an inch in length, and this means they can fit comfortably in a small-sized tank, around 5 gallons. The biggest issue that may arise is that filters in smaller tanks tend to create a strong current, and clown killifish don’t like strong currents.

Clown Killifish Food & Diet

Clown Killifish’s natural predatory instincts mean they prefer live food and usually won’t eat frozen food or food pellets. They like to eat fruit flies or chopped-up blood worms.

Clown Killifish Lifespan

As with most small fish, clown killifish’s lifespans aren’t very long. The colorful fish’s lifespan is dependent on the environment, diet, tank conditions, and tankmates. But, on average, their lifespan ranges between 3 and 5 years.

Clown Killifish Care Guide – Stunning, 7-Colored Killifish for Nano Tanks

Clown Killifish Tank Mates

The perfect tankmates for clown killifish are more of the same species. They’re a very social fish and should be kept in schools of at least eight members. The male members of the species tend to chase each other and even spar, but it’s harmless fun. Peaceful, small fish are the preferred tankmates of Clown Killifish; tetras or minnows would be a good choice.

Are Clown Killifish Aggressive?

Clown killifish are not known to be aggressive, but they may be slightly aggressive when attempting to reproduce.  Male clown killifish may seem aggressive when interacting with one another, but their sparring and chasing are usually harmless.

How many Clown Killifish should be kept together?

Clown Killifish are a very social fish species; they prefer to be kept together, usually in groups of 8-10. If you own a school of them together, you can watch them swim majestically for hours. But be warned, they prefer to be fed live food more often than other fish due to their predatory nature.

Are Clown Killifish schooling fish?

Young Clown killifish tend to school, swimming beautifully around their tank together. Adult clown killifish don’t care to school, usually just picking a part of the tank and hanging out. It would be best if you still kept a few together, as they don’t like being alone.

Compatible Tank Mates for Clown Killifish

Clown killifish are compatible with smaller, docile fish. Tetras are excellent tankmates for them, as are smaller barbs, minnows, danios, bettas, Gouramis, and Corydoras catfish. They also pair well with bottom feeders and mid-level fish. Bottom dwellers and mid-level fish allow clown killifish to have the top of the tank all to themselves.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Clown Killifish

Clown killifish would not mesh well with larger, more aggressive species of fish. In those cases, clown killifish may end up becoming the dinner of the larger, more aggressive fish. Any species that prefer different temperatures than clown killifish wouldn’t be compatible with them, and neither would fish who prefer pH levels that aren’t between 4 -7. Also, any fish that like more water movement than the clown killifish.

Clown Killifish and Shrimp

Clown killifish and shrimp should get along well in any tank, and shrimp are too big for clown killifish to eat, although they may eat their eggs and fry. Shrimp is also a good choice because they will help keep the tank clean, perfect for the clown killifish. After all, a filter isn’t recommended in some tanks because of the water flow they produce.

Clown Killifish and Betta

Betta fish and clown killifish may get along, but the attitude of any particular betta determines it. Some betta fish don’t like when other fish swim at the top of the tank with them. But some don’t mind the company and would ignore the clown killifish. Try keeping them in the same tank and separating if necessary.

Clown Killifish and Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling gourami have been known to gang up on smaller shrimps, but that shouldn’t affect them cohabitating with clown killifish. They are both traditionally peaceful species and should share any tank without issue.

Clown Killifish and Dwarf Gourami

As with sparking gourami, there should be no issues between dwarf gourami and clown killifish. They are both very timid species of fish and should coexist in any tank perfectly fine. Usually, the two fish will tend to avoid each other, minding their own business.

Clown Killifish and Guppies

Guppies and clown killifish shouldn’t have a problem in the same tank together. When fully grown, both species are around the same size, which means the clown killifish shouldn’t try to eat the guppy. However, clown killifish may eat the fry of the guppies.

Clown Killifish and Goldfish

Goldfish and clown killifish sharing the same tank depends entirely on the size of the goldfish. Most fish, including both goldfish and clown killifish, will eat anything that fits into their mouth. So, a goldfish on the larger side may try to eat your clown killifish. Outside of that, they should both be very compatible because they prefer roughly the exact water temperature. But it is not recommended to pair goldfish and clown killifish in the same tank.

Clown Killifish Tank Setup

An essential part of any tank setup is making sure you have a tank large enough to accommodate whatever species you plan on housing. Clown killifish don’t require that large of a tank, a minimum of 5 gallons. If you have a small tank, it is worth noting that most filters will create a water flow that clown killifish will not like. If you decide against a filter, it’s recommended to have several types of plants on the water’s surface. Those plants will help keep the water clean and oxygenated. Also important is the temperature and pH balance of the water, making sure both are in the preferred range of your preferred species.

Clown Killifish Breeding

Clown killifish usually don’t have trouble breeding as long as you have a male and a female of the species. They tend to lay eggs every few days in moss or other vegetation, and their eggs are incredibly tiny; after about two weeks, they hatch. The parents will not often eat their eggs or fry, but other clown killifish might.

Clown Killifish Male vs Female

Male clown killifish are usually more brightly colored and more prominent than their female counterparts. Female clown killifish have a more subdued color palette than the males, and their size difference also makes the two easier to tell apart. Males also have slightly longer fins, which the females do not.

How to Hatch Clown Killifish Eggs

Clown killifish eggs are tiny, and as such, they should be handled with great care.  The eggs will usually hatch in 2 weeks as long as they haven’t succumbed to a bacterial infection and as long as the water stays at a warmer temperature of around 78°F.

How Long Will Killifish Eggs Last?

Some Killifish eggs can last up to 20 months. This surprisingly long time is because they come from regions where rain is unreliable and occasionally skips a year. The eggs have to be able to survive until the next rainy season. 

Clown Killifish Disease

As with most freshwater fish, Ich is a common disease for them to contract. Ich can be diagnosed by the appearance of white spots on the body of the fish. Another potentially devastating illness is known as Flukes. Flukes is a parasitic infection that causes increased mucus and could wind up suffocating the fish. The symptoms include the fish swimming too close to the surface, increased mucus, and clamped fins.

Where Can I Find Clown Killifish for Sale?

Clown Killifish aren’t a prevalent species, so your local aquarium or pet store may not have any in stock. In that case, they can usually be found for sale online by several different retailers. Male clown killifish typically sell for under $10, while the females sell for just over $10. At many online retailers, you can get a better deal if you purchase more than one.

Where Can I Find Clown Killifish Eggs for Sale?

Clown Killifish eggs can be found online for sale, and you may also be able to find them at a local aquarium store. They tend to sell for less than their fully grown counterparts, and a batch of eggs sells for around $7.

Clown killifish are easy to care for, yet gorgeous and rewarding fish species. Any level of enthusiast would be proud to have them as a part of their tanks. As long as your tank meets their recommended requirements, you can’t go wrong by adding this colorful, playful fish to your tank today.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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