Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe)

The Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe) is a non-annual killifish known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Golden Lyretail or Lyretail Panchax and is found along the Atlantic coastline of Central Africa from Cape Lopesz, near the mouth of the Ogooué River, Gabon south, throughout the lowland areas of Africa.

This species of Lyretail Killi is peaceful, shy, hardy, easy to spawn, long lived, quite adaptable, and available in several color strains including Albino, Chocolate, Gold, and Orange.

In their native environment, Aphyosemion australe are found in small streams, swamps, and other permanent bodies of water where they feed on small insects, invertebrates, and crustaceans.

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killies are a brightly colored species with flat heads, wide mouths, and extensions on the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.   Males are larger, more brightly colored, and have more pronounced extensions to their fins than females.

Female Lyretail Killies are smaller, have rounder bellies and are drab compared to males.

Although the Lyretail Killie can be housed in a tank as small as 5 gallon capacity, a tank of at least 10 to 15 gallons is recommended with a dark sand or fine gravel substrate, densely planted with fine leaved plants and a small piece of driftwood for shelter.

A layer of floating plants such as water lettuce, Water Hyacinth, etc. is recommended to diffuse overhead lighting and minimize jumping.

Lyretail Killies can also be kept in a community environment with other shy peaceful species like rasboras, small corydoras, Loricariids, characins, some of the Anabantoids, and smaller dwarf cichlids.

Lyretail Killies are egg scatterers and relatively easy to spawn using several methods.

Most breeders place a well conditioned pair in a small unlit spawning tank,  with an air powered sponge corner filter.

In their natural habitat, Lyretail Killies deposit their eggs in the substrate or in clumps of vegetation.

In a spawning tank, the spawning medium can be either a layer of peat moss on the bottom of the tank, clumps of fine-leaved plants such as java moss in a densely planted tank, or spawning mops on a bare tank.

Many commercial breeders prefer a bare bottomed setup for ease of egg collection and tank maintenance.

The water in the spawning tank should be soft, with an optimum pH of 6.0-6.5, and a water temperature of 70-75°F.

When spawning commences, 10 to 20 eggs per day will be deposited for a period of up to 2 weeks.   The eggs should be removed daily for incubation in either water or a damp layer of peat moss placed in a small container.

The eggs are very susceptible to fungus and should be immediately removed when spotted to stop spreading the infection to healthy eggs.

When incubating the eggs in water, transfer them to a small aquarium using the original water from the spawning tank.  Keep the water depth at no more than 2 inches, and add 2 to 3 drops of methylene blue as a fungus preventative.   Eggs are light sensitive, so keep the tank dark until the eggs hatch out.   Depending on water temperature, healthy eggs will hatch out in 10 to 20 days

When incubating in peat moss, place the container in a warm dark spot and leave them alone for about 18 to 19 days.  Place the eggs in the rearing tank and the eggs will begin to hatch out.  If the eggs do not hatch out within a reasonable time, lightly aerate the water by blowing through a soda straw or length of airline tubing.

After hatching, add a couple of drops of green water or liquifry to the water daily until they are free swimming.   Once the fry are free swimming, they will be able to accept baby brine shrimp.

Fry are extremely susceptible to velvet disease, so small water changes every couple of days are needed to maintain water quality.

Adult Lyretail Killies are easy to feed. They will accept quality carnivore flakes as well as live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, microworms, and daphnia.

The Lyretail Killi (Aphyosemion australe) is available online, from importers, and from specialty fish shops.   Although this species is one of the most commonly kept by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, they are not a common item in most storefront shops.

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)

Lyretail Killie (Aphyosemion australe)








Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful, Shy
Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 70-89° F, 18-179 ppm, pH 5.5-7.0
Max. Size: 2 1/2”
Color Form: Gold, Brown, Orange
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Community and Biotope tanks
Origin: Nigeria, Cameroon, tank raised
Family: Nothobranchiidae
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced

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