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Help me plan my first killi tank (Aphyosemion australe)


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So, now I've done it. Don Carlo the betta is dead of something, long live Don Carlo, and in his sponge-filter-only 10g with soft, neutral water that's quickly being taken over by duckweed and jungle val, I was planning on adding a breeding pair or trio of Aphyosemion australe (Golden Lyretail killifish). My first killis and they sound and look amazing. But I couldn't find reasonably priced fish domestically, so I opted for some eggs from Thailand.

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Of course, in the time it'll take to ship them from Thailand, I changed my mind and decided on CPDs and cherry shrimp (which are settling in perfectly and I love them. I think I'm way more of a danio person than a betta person).

But! Those eggs are still on their way. So! New plan: a 30 or 40 gallon on this big old antique buffet table from my MIL that I've never enjoyed, but which is sturdy as all get-out and is sort of wasted on two 10g tanks right now (the Don Carlo tank and the quarantine tank, enjoying some ambient light from the south-facing glass door). It can fit up to a 40L , but I think I'll probably go with a 40 breeder for versatility or a 30 if I must.

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So, after I drop in some Black Diamond for substrate and lots of cover plants, what should I do with this killi tank? I know I could easily add tetras, rasbora, cories, or even a couple rams, but I'd like to keep it somewhat geographically appropriate to West Africa. Should I just stick with these killis for now? There's a local selling kribs on craigslist and I'd love to help him out, but the colors wouldn't really mesh with the orange killies. Something dark, maybe? Black, marbled, or blue would pop well with the orange killies. Something more bottom-dwelling would be great. I'd love some shrimp and/or nerite snails for clean-up and algae, but I'm afraid that the soft, slightly acidic water parameters will be too unpleasant for them.

I should add that, while I can sell fish, slowly, I'd really rather not, and my local pet stores are really not great places for fish. So I'd be keeping fry in with the adults. Slow, replacement-level breeding is exactly what I'm looking for, so I don't mind moderate egg- and fry-eaters, as long as they'll leave the adults alone.

What would you do?

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Make sure the stand is sturdy for ca. 400 lbs of weight with a 40 gal breeder.

Killis are not a long-lived species. Some just flourish for a year. Others for 2 years. These might go for 3x years.

Here’s a nice write up on them.

Check in with LRB Aquatics to see if he’s got any of these. He may also have tips on hatching eggs. I enjoy his walk through a myriad of Killis in this video:

Note how _small_ the water volume is where they can be kept. Jim Cumming (expert aquarist, Canada) tells of a period in his fish keeping when he couldn’t set up a fishroom, but was limited to a single closet. He bred hundreds of Killis in this time frame, loading the closet shelves with tiny tanks.

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7 minutes ago, Fish Folk said:

He bred hundreds of Killis in this time frame, loading the closet shelves with tiny tanks.

Wow...I gotta say, you raise a good point! Maybe I should stick to a 10-20g for the killies, or even smaller for short term breeding/hatching. I can still put a 30g on the buffet table later for something else.

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