Gardneri Killifish (Fundulopanchax gardneri): Care Guide

Common Name(s)Gardneri Killifish, Steel Blue Killifish
Scientific NameFundulopanchax gardneri
Temperature60-70°F (16-21°C)
Size2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Food & DietCarnivorous
Lifespan2 years
Water pH6.0-7.5
Tank MatesPeaceful fish of similar size that aren’t colorful.
BreedingA breeding pair spawn eggs in dense vegetation.
DiseaseMay be susceptible to ich.
Gardneri Killifish
Gardneri Killifish (Fundulopanchax gardneri)

Gardneri Killifish (Fundulopanchax gardneri) are beautiful fish that are great for small to medium sized aquariums.

Their name derives from the Dutch word ‘killy’ which means a ditch or canal. As their name suggests, they are often found in shallow waters such as water-holes, streams, and marshes. Since they are adapted to these shallow bodies of waters, Killifish generally do not grow very large.

In fact, Gardneri Killifish are small fish that grow to only 2.5 inches in size. They are small in size, but characterized by their impactful coloration and patterns. They have a blue and green body, with red spots covering it.

In 1911, the Killifish was discovered in a river tributary in Nigeria and got part of its name from R. D. Gardner who was the first person to catch them. Two years later, they were sold as ornamental fish. This was an obvious move, since they are beautiful fish that are adapted to small spaces.

While Killifish are awesome fish, they aren’t always readily available. Most fish farms for Killifish are located in Asia, and the fish are not always distributed to all markets.

However, if you are fortunate enough to find Gardneri Killifish in your area, this guide will show you how to care for this spectacular fish.

Gardneri Killifish Care

Gardneri Killifish are hardy fish that are relatively easy to take care of, but they do have specific requirements that need to be met.

First, they can be kept in small aquariums, but the tank size should be at least 10 gallons. Clean water is necessary, so a filtration system should be added. However, the aquarium filter output should be monitored since they dislike strong flow. If the water current is too strong, a baffle can be added to the outflow. If you intend to breed these fish, a sponge filter may be the best option. They prefer soft water as well.

The tank setup should consist of plenty of live plants, since these fish are native to areas with dense vegetation. In addition, rocks and driftwood can be added to create a natural aquascape. This will create plenty of hiding spots for the fish, which will help them feel safe. In addition, male Killifish can show signs of aggression. Therefore, providing plenty of hiding places with the plants and hardscape will help reduce the tension among the tank mates.

They are active and agile fish, and they are known to jump out of the water. Therefore, a tight fitting lid for your aquarium is necessary. In the wild, the pond or stream that they live in can dry up seasonally. Therefore, they are required to jump out of the water to seek a better habitat.

Gardneri Killifish Food & Diet

Gardneri Killifish are carnivores by nature and feed off insects and algae in the wild. In an aquarium setting they can be fed flakes, pellets and dried food.

In the wild, Killifish can have a wide variety of things to feed on. They usually eat small insects and crustaceans but they also can feed off plants and algae that can be found in their water holes. For your aquarium Killifish can be fed flakes, pellets and dried food like bloodworms regularly. 

Although Gardneri Killifish can eat live food like bloodworms and brine shrimp, make sure to keep it to about once a week. Sometimes Killifish can be picky eaters so if this is the case with your fish start with feeding them live food and gradually giving them more dry food. Killifish should be fed a small portion couple of times a day.

Water Temperature & Ph

Gardneri Killifish are hardy fish due their natural habitats but in an aquarium the water temperature should be between 65 – 75 °F (18 – 24 °C) with a pH 6.0 – 7.5.

Make sure to test the pH level of your aquarium on a regular basis. If you need to regulate the pH level you can use reverse osmosis or deionized kits. You can also use peat moss or driftwood in your aquarium to naturally lower the pH level for your fish.

Monitor the water temperature on a regular basis and add an aquarium heater if the temperature drop below 65 degrees.

Adding Gardneri Killifish to an Aquarium

Before releasing the Gardneri Killifish into its tank you will need to acclimatize them first. Turn off tank lights for the first 4 hours and do not feed them for 24 hours. The Drip Method or Floating method can be used to acclimatize the Killifish.

To do the Floating Method, place the bag with your fish on the water’s surface in your aquarium. It’s best to turn off or dim any aquarium or room lights. Letting the bag float on the surface will allow the water in the bag to slowly adjust to the temperature of the tank. After 15 minutes make a small cut to the top of the bag and add about a ¼ cup of aquarium water to the bag. Repeat this step every 4 minutes until the bag is full. After the bag is full you can release the Killifish into the tank.

For the Drip Method you will need a clean bucket that has never had any chemicals in it (even cleaning chemicals) and a small tube you can use as a siphon. First leave the bag floating in the aquarium for 15 minutes in a dark or dim room. Then slowly dump the water and fish into the bucket, making sure the fish are always submerged. Next use your tubing to drip water from the tank to the bucket. You can use a series of  loose knots to control the rate of dripping, ideally about 4-5 drips per second. Once the water in the bucket has doubled remove half the water and repeat the process again. After it has doubled again, the fish are ready to be released in the tank.

At first, the fish may seem shy and start to hide in the plants and rocks in your aquarium. After a couple of days they should start to reappear and swim throughout the whole tank.

Gardneri Killifish Tank Mates

Gardneri Killifish are generally peaceful fish and can be kept with other fish of similar size and temperament. However, they can show signs of aggression and fin-nipping behavior. Therefore, add tank mates with careful consideration.

First, Killifish should only be put with tank mates that are of a similar size and temperament.

Next, if you want a community tank, tank mates that are too colorful should be avoided. Colorful fish may be seen as competition, and become attacked.

Here’s a list of possible tank mates for Gardneri Killifish:

  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Corydoras
  • Clown Loach

Lastly, be mindful of the number of male killfish in the tank. A high concentration of male killifish can increase the level of aggressive behavior in the tank. The female killifish can be harassed to death in some cases as well.

Gardneri Killifish Breeding

To create ideal conditions for breeding you will need a 10 gallon tank or larger, plenty of plants for cover, and a sponge filter. Water temperature should be from 60-70°F (16-21°C) for breeding Killifish.

The eggs of the Killifish may be eaten by other fish in your tank, so it is best to keep the eggs in a separate tank while they hatch.

You will want to feed the Killifish protein rich food while they are breeding. After a few weeks you can remove the fish and put them back into your main aquarium. You should start to see the new fry a couple of days after removing the fish. Feed your new fry brine shrimp and bloodworms 3 to 4 times a day in small portions. When your new Killifish are big enough you can place them back into the community tank.

Breeding Gardneri Killifish: Great Beginner Killifish!

Should I get a Gardneri Killifish?

Yes! They are relatively easy to maintain and the aquarium setup is achievable by most aquarists. They are relatively inexpensive fish, but they will add lots of color to your tank. They are great for fishkeepers that appreciate small beautiful fish. They are great for fishkeepers that are new to the aquarium hobby as well.

However, keep in mind that they don’t mix well with large or aggressive fish. Therefore, make sure they have compatible tank mates.

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