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Clown Killifish

By | Last Updated: 3rd August 2020

Clown killifish or clown killi belongs to the family of African rivuline indigenous to different parts of West Africa. George Albert Boulenger described them as Haplochilus annulatus in 1915, though finally, Epiplatys annulatus became its generic name.  In Latin “epi” refers to above, “platys” means on top of, while “annulatus” translates to a ring or lateral pattern, perfectly justifying the fish’s banded appearance.

Clown Killifish

Quick Information

Scientific NameEpiplatys annulatus
Other NamesClown killi, banded panchax, rocket killifish
OriginFreshwater regions of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea
Conservation StatusLeast Concern (by the IUCN)
Behavioral CharacteristicsPeaceful, active, cooperative, but has a solitary nature;  male-male aggression seen between two clown killifish species
School SizeNot perfect for schooling as they like to remain by themselves; yet may be kept in pairs
Physical TraitsElongated body, round head, upturned mouth, spade-shaped caudal fin, and long central rays
ColorsCream body with four vertically arranged black bands starting behind their head. The coloration of the fins vary in both the sexes
Males: Cream, light red or bluish-red dorsal fins; sky blue caudal fins; bluish or reddish anal fins and extended bright red middle rays
Females: Clear dorsal and caudal fins; red, yellow or pale orange extended rays
Size (How big do they get)Small; 1.2 to 1. 4 inches (3 to 3.5 cm)
Lifespan2 – 5 years
Sexual DimorphismPresent; Males: Big, brightly-colored with pronounced stripes; Females: Smaller, subdued coloration with less prominent markings
Probable Diseases Ich, dropsy
Approximate Price (How much is it for)$15 – 20
Clown Killifish Size

Tank Setup & Care Sheet Details

Care LevelBeginners to intermediate
Tank Size5 gallons (18.92 liters) for 2 to 3 fish

Water Parameters

pH Level4.0 – 7.0
Temperature68° to 79°F (20 to 26°C)
Hardness4 – 8 dGH
Aquarium  Water FlowSlow  

Tank Ambience

LightingDim, low
Substrate TypeSand, driftwood, and plants 
Tank MatesCompatible with: Varieties of smaller barbs, tetras, gouramis, minnows, danios, and plecos
Incompatible with: Big, aggressive species as well as shrimps since they consider the latter their food
Suitable Position in the TankTop


DietLive and frozen foods like daphnia, bloodworm, and tubifex
Frequency 2-3 times a day
Clown Rocket Killifish

Important Things to Know For Fish Keepers

  • Since they mostly move in the upper parts of the tank and have an innate ability to jump, this species may leap out in no time. So, a tight-fitting lid is needed for the aquarium.


Q. Why is the clown killifish named so?

The clown killifish is named so as it replicates a clown’s getup with its bright, vibrant coloration, thus getting their name. On the other hand, killifish is a Dutch word, meaning a small stream, which is the habitat of these fish.

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