FIA is community supported website. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

Clown Killifish Care, Tank Setup, Mates, Diet & More

The Clown Killifish has been slated as one of the most fantastic choices for the nano to a small or medium-sized community tank. If you want to add more color and beauty to your aquascape, you won’t regret adding this fish to your aquarium.

It is just about the right fish to be added to your community tank. This fish is peaceful and indifferent towards other species, which is an ideal choice if you want to have a peaceful tank to care for and treat.

This tiny fish can add more color and vibrance to your tank. Not to mention that you can breed it in captivity too.

However, it does not come cheap. A specimen could cost you around twenty dollars at your local pet store. But it is worth your money once you’ve realized it.

Without further ado, let us find out more about this fish.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy to moderate
TemperamentNon-aggressive predator
AppearanceMiniature pikes, both males, and females bear banded black and yellow bodies
Life ExpectancyUp to 5 years
Size1.2 -1.4 inches (3 – 3.5 cm)
Tank Size5 gallons
Tank EnvironmentThe system current should be gentle or buffered by decorations or plants
Tank MatesOther peaceful fish who love slow currents of water

The other names of Clown Killifish are Clown Killi, Banded Panchax, and Rocket Killifish. Each area might have a different way of calling the name. So, if your seller misunderstands the latter, you can also use the other names to make them understand.


These killifish buddies are commonly featured in West Africa in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Southern Guinea. They are peaceful predator fish who feed on smaller-sized creatures like insects and tiny invertebrates.

In the natural habitat, we can find them in areas like swamps, water holes, marshes, as well as streams. With such information, it is great to know that they can thrive and survive for a long time in a tank that mimics their natural habitat. The clown killifish pets are predators. So, they will likely hunt for their prey, although any kind of food you give them can be found.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the rocket killifish is Epiplatys Annulatus. Meanwhile, the name clown killifish appeared in 1915 after being created by Boulenger, an avid enthusiast of the fish species.


These panchax buddies are easily available in many places. You can find them in online stores and offline stores. Most of them are bred in captivity. Consider reaching out to the pet stores nearby your current location first to make sure they have the specimens for your tank.

Behavior & Temperament

It is a peaceful fish. Yes. But don’t get it wrong. They are natural predators. They are not aggressive or obvious. Rather, they are the observers. They will wait until their prey passes by.

They love insects. So, you will see your clown killifish moving up to the top dwelling more often. It is because they are waiting for the insects to pass by so that they can catch them. They can be jumpers as well if the prey is a bit far from the surface of the water.


The fish shape is unique, like a torpedo-shaped object. I can also describe it as a miniature pike with a round head and an upturned mouth.

Well, this upturned mouth is sensible since this fish is more adapted to the surface feeding method.

The coloration might be different between males and females. The males have a bright yellow color and a black stripe across their bodies. The fins come with red and blue stripes. Meanwhile, the females have similar colors but the coloration level is a bit duller.

In the great condition of the tank, water, and diet, both males and females will come out with the greatest levels of color, making your aquatic experience more fun and fulfilling.

But to attain such beautiful colors and breeds, you don’t need to undergo such complex procedures.

Caring for the clown killifish is straightforward. Here is how you can set up the tank and care for your lovely fish.

Clown killi in aquarium

Tank Setup

First things first, I’d like to remind you that the clown killifish pets are little jumpers. You must prepare a safe community tank with the proper fit and lid.

You could turn the tank brightness to a minimum. Make the lighting dimmer so that it will have soothing effects on the dwellers. As mentioned, they live in streams and marshes. So, you will want to replicate the aquascape as close as possible to its original habitat.

Since they are used to living in the swamps, they are convenient with the slow-flowing water. You must keep the tank environment to the likeness of the natural habitat of the fish. If you tag along with your fish with the other tank mates, then you need to install an adequate filtration system to keep the water clean and oxygenated all the time.

Tank Size

You can place your clown killifish into your nano or small-sized tanks. Some owners would only need to prepare their small tanks for the killifish-only group. The filter current must be slow so that it can live well in your tank.

Speaking of the dimensions of the tank, consider having a long and low-depth one. This dimension is the best way to replicate the real habitat of the fish. They spend most of their time feeding on the surface of the water. The deeper tank will make it more difficult to do their routine. You need at least 5 gallons of water for a small group of clown killifish buddies.

If you have a reptile tank, that could be a wonderful choice. Since they are routine jumpers, you will want to install a fitting lid on the top of the tank.

Water Parameters

The clown killifish fish prefer warm, acidic, and soft water. You need to maintain these parameters to care for them and breed them.

The normal pH is around 6. The water hardness should be around 50 ppm. The water temperature is between 75 and 80° Fahrenheit.

This fish is less hardy. So, any sudden fluctuation can affect their wellness and stress levels.


You won’t want to add the fish directly to the tank.

Long before you purchase the fish, you will want to prepare your tank first with waterlogged peat. Allow the water to circulate daily until the color turns slightly amber or light yellow. This prepared tank will be a much better environment for your clown killifish.

You could use a filtration system, but make sure it won’t affect the flow of the water. Clown killifish can not survive in the strong current of water. You can also omit the filter from your tank. But you need to change 50% of the water every three days to keep your health and wellness for your tiny friends.


Consider adding live plants to your tank, since it will benefit your fish a lot. Live plants like Java moss, ferns, Crispus, etc can help your tank to maintain adequate oxygen levels. The plants will also help to remove nitrates, creating a more conducive environment for your fish to thrive and live.

Consider adding floating plants that have rooting systems to the bottom of the tank. It will make a great spot for spawning and laying eggs.

Tank Mates

Clown killi pair

It is surprising to comprehend that this fish tends to be soloists rather than schooling. They are solitaire. But they are peaceful creatures when tagged with other tank mates who have the same behavior.

Consider avoiding larger fish since they will threaten the life of your fish. You could add small and peaceful fish species that are similar in size to them. Your clown killifish is shying away. But by adding companions, they will manage it.

Since clown killifish loves slow water currents, you can not add tank mates who love fast water currents. That would be contradictory.

Although they are solitaire, you can also pair them naturally with the same species. Not too large a group, two or three pairs of them in a five-gallon tank should be enough.

The other tank mates that you could consider adding are:

Many other species are not on the list above. You could ask your professionals to help you out by adding the tank mates.

Food & Diet

Feeding is easy. If there are insects at your house, your feeding job will be less burdensome since they are the natural foods of your clown killifish. These have the habit of standing just beneath the surface. They wait for the insects to land on the water. And when the timing is right, they will quickly hit the insects and eat them.

You could combine it with replicating what they get in their natural habitat. Focus on live foods like fruit flies, larvae, and mosquito larvae. The other items to consider are Walter worms, vinegar eels, small daphnia, copepods, worms, and so on.

Feed once or twice a day. If you think that all the insects at your home are enough, you could skip it.

If you have a shortage of live foods, frozen foods can be a good replacement. But it is seldom to see these fish accepting live food all the time.

Breeding Guidelines

Your clown killifish fish will spawn when the environment and conditions are right for them.

The fish will spawn naturally as long as there is a lot of vegetation in your aquarium.

The fry will hide in the floating surface plants for a few weeks. You could move the fry to a smaller tank to care for them separately. Do not mix them with adults since they can be eaten.