ARK - Arizona Rivulin Keepers
The following is from the Italian Killifish Association.
It is offered here with the with the author's permission.
It has been translated using Babel Fish and then edited by Allan Semeit.
The Killifish Of Nigeria
By Stefano Valdesalici
The African country of Nigeria is a very rich in terms of natural resources, particularly oil. It also offers an enormous variety of aquatic biotopes with relatively spectacular fish. There are approximately four geographical/biological regions in which Nigeria can be divided.
The first zone that is encountered, starting in the south, contains the lagoons and coastal streams of the Niger River delta. A killifish common to this zone is the Lampeye, Aplocheilicthys spilauchen. This is not a highly colored species, but displays well in the right lighting. It is easy to keep, adapting to soft water and every type of food, even flake foods. Eggs are deposited in aquatic plants or injected into cracks in rocks. The eggs incubate in approximately 15 days. This habitat is characterized from an extreme variability. The size and extent of the lagoons and rivers change continuously because of the tremendously high rainfall.
As one moves toward the north, the second zone contains the pluvial
rainforest of the Niger River delta. This region is characterized by a nine-month
rainy season, from March to November, with a rather dry August. This contrasts
areas further north where it only rains 4 months. Given the length of the rainy
season in the south, the temperature remains rather constant year round
and varies from the 21 to the 35 °C, but the average is 25-26°C. Water
conditions are characterized as: a pH of 4-6; conductivity is low 20-50 microSiemens
There are interesting killifish in this zone. These include:
Fundulopanchax arnoldi, Fundulopanchax sjoestedti, Fundulopanchax gularis, Fundulopanchax
filamentosus, Fundulopanchax powelli, Fundulopanchax spoorenbergi, and
These species inhabit swamps, swampy areas of streams, or very slow moving
streams. All of these habitats are subject to partial (or a total) drying
out several times during the year. These fishes vary in size from about 5 to
All are bred in a similar manner. Because these are rather aggressive
species, it is recommended that you kept one male and several females of the larger
species in a tank at least 50-80 liters in size; while for the smaller
species smaller a 30 liter tank is probably sufficient. It is important to add
many hiding places as both males and females can kill the other. Create hiding
places by adding aquatic plants, fibrous peat moss, and/or spawning mops.
The hardness and pH of the aquarium water should be maintained at a medium
range values. Temperature over 25°C cause oxygen deprivation, so lower
temperatures are recommended. The aquarium should not be highly lit. While these
species prefer and do best on a diet of live foods (mosquito larvae, small fish
and earthworms), they can be adapted to others such as frozen and freeze-dried
fish foods. Partial changes (30% per week) are important in order to maintain
optimal water quality. Oodinium (Velvet) is a disease that occasionally
and can be difficult to cure.
To breed these species, you can set up a small tank (3-5 liters) that has
cm layer of peat moss on the bottom. The water should be fairly soft
DGH). Keep the male and female(s) in separate tanks for several days to
condition them with quality live foods. At this time, after the water has
stabilized in the breeding tank, introduce the male with one female for
hours (2-8). After this time, it is advisable to again separate the pair
several days of conditioning. With 3-4 of these reproductive cycles, it
common to find a large number of eggs have been deposited (often over a
hundred). When the adults have been removed from the breeding tank,
peat moss, remove the excess water from the peat, and incubate in plastic
for 4 to the 9 weeks (this depends on the species). When the eggs are
hatch, place the peat in a small container and add water with a
15°C and medium hardness of one. Most eggs will hatch within a few hours.
an alternative, the eggs can be incubated in water, but normally many of
eggs will fungus and some of the fry may show defects. At birth the fry
able to consume baby brine shrimp. With frequent and regular water
fry will reach sexual maturity anywhere from 6 weeks to 5 months,
the species (faster sjoestedti and gulare, slower arnoldi - 2 months and
spoorenbergi - 5 months). The average life expectancy of these fish is
approximately 9 months for the fast maturing species, and one year or
the slower-maturing species.
The third region is characterized by primary and secondary forest
small streams, ponds and swamps derived from small water sources. Here we
Aphyosemion bitaeniatum, Aphyosemion callirium (whose area of distribution
extends from Togo into Cameroon), Aphyosemion bivittatum and Aphyosemion
(whose dissemination is limited to the area northeast of the Niger River
These biotopes are characterized by the presence of usually permanent
that are soft and slightly acidic; the color of the water varies from very
opaque during the dry season to very yellow (amber) during the rainy
The yellow color is due to the decomposition of great amounts of dead
that wash into the waters.
The males of the killies found in this zone are rather territorial and
find one male approximately every meter as you move along the stream. The
females move into the territory of a male when they are ready to spawn.
small pool or pond environment, one tends to find the killies in breeding
made up of several males, of which one is dominant, females, and
Killies feed upon terrestrial insects (mainly ants), the aquatic larvae of
insects, and crustaceans. These fish tend to be rather easy to raise.
will lay their eggs on mops of synthetic wool or in peat moss. Breeding
achieved using tanks as small as 10-20 liters, because, usually these fish
not aggressive. It is, however, recommended that you add shelters for the
females. These can be dense plant growths of Microsorium (Java Moss) and
Vescicularia (Java Sword or Fern). These killies will deposit their eggs
throughout a spawning mop, as well as in the peat moss. It is recommended
the eggs be collected and then incubated in small containers. The water
incubation container should be similar to that of the parents, except
clean. For the more difficult species, adding a disinfectant such as
acriflavine or methylene blue can be helpful. Incubation averages about
at a temperature of 24°C. It is important to monitor the eggs. Remove any
fungus (turn white and then appear fuzzy) and change part of the water
regularly. Another breeding technique is to leave the eggs to develop in
tank with the adults. As the fry hatch, they tend to hide in floating
near the surface where they can be scooped out and moved to a rearing
For their first food, infusoria is necessary for the smallest fry and then
brine shrimp. The adults will accept practically all live foods (fruit
mosquito larvae, daphnia, and also baby brine shrimp. When these are
unavailable, these killies will adapt to frozen foods.
In the same biotopes as the Aphyosemion species, you will often find
like Procatopus aberrans, Procatopus similis, Foerschichthys flavipinnis
Aplocheilicthys macrophthalmus. These killies do not inhabit the
areas closest to the banks, but prefer to swim where the current is
All Lampeyes are schooling fish and they are often found in groups of
dozen. Spawning occurs with the eggs deposited mainly on the gravelly
between cracks in rocks. In the aquarium, these fish require
water and a water current. Breeding and fry rearing are handled the same
Aphyosemions; (as a spawning substrate, you can use a tight synthetic yarn
with the exception that you should use a rather wide aquarium with a group
at least 6 fish. A porous airstone should be provided to create a water
current in the fish tank. Frequently, the newly hatched fry are very
require infusoria as their food for the first few days.
Besides the Lampeyes, this zone contains killifish from the genus
These include species such as E. infrafasciatus, E. togolensis, and E.
spilargyreius. Their breeding is similar to that of Aphyosemion species.
nature, you will these species in groups that are divided in pyramidal
structures with a dominant male, females, sub-adults, and juveniles. Also
Epiplatys tend to prefer the sunny areas and are found close the water
Their diet is mainly of larger insects.
Practically unique to Nigeria (particularly in the zone north of the Niger
where the landscape is characterized as a savanna) we find the
gardneri nigerianus. The more northernly populations have a marked
toward 'annual' reproduction. Many of their eggs enter into diapause
development) and their incubation may require several months storage on
peat moss. In contrast, the populations of Fundulopanchax gardneri
the south, where the climate is much more humid, incubate in water and
after single 2-3 weeks.
Another killifish that is found in the northeastern savanna is
(Pronothobranchius) kiyawensis (total length: approximately 25 mm). This
annual species that can be maintained in tanks of 10-20 liters. The
lay their eggs synthetic wool mops or peat moss and those eggs require
approximately a 3-month incubation in damp peat moss (identical to the
procedures used with other Nothobranchius species).
As noted, the variety of biotopes is enormous. We can only wait for the
political situation to stabilize before we can carry out searches for even