Egger's killifish, Nothobranchius eggersi

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Killies are often stunning in coloration, and Egger's killifish is no exception. Matt Clarke has the details.

Common name: Egger's killifish

Scientific name: Nothobranchius eggersi, Seegers, 1982.

Origin: This stunning little killifish is found in various parts of Tanzania. There have been many known strains of aquarium populations collected across the country, including the Rufiji and Ruhoi rivers, as well as Bagamoyo, Kanga, Utete and Saadani.

Size: Around 5cm/2”.

Diet: These fare best on small live foods such as Daphnia and small bloodworm, but often readily accept frozen foods. Some may also take dried foods.

Water: This fish prefers relatively soft and acidic water with a temperature of around 23-25°C/73-77°F.

Aquarium: In the wild Nothobranchius eggersi is an annual species with a short lifespan. It is found in shallow temporary pools and swamps with a muddy or leaf litter bottom. Adult fish die when their pool dries out, but the eggs buried in the bottom mud remain dormant for 8-12 weeks and hatch when rains replenish water levels.

Breeding: This is a bottom spawner which lays its eggs in the soft muddy substrate.

Most breeders keep them in a bare-bottomed tank with a small container of soft peat-based material. This acts as a spawning site and allows the eggs to be harvested more easily.

Notes: This fish was first collected in the early 1980s. As with most Nothobranchius species, there are many different local variants. This variety is known as N. eggersi 'red'. Other eggersi strains can be predominantly blue, but, to my eye, the red ones are by far the best looking.

The Nothobranchius genus includes around 50 species and countless geographic variants, including N. furzeri which is the vertebrate with the shortest known lifespan. It hatches, reaches sexual maturity, spawns and dies in just six months.

Availability: Along with Nothobranchius guentheri, this is one of the most commonly sold nothos, but still an unusual sight in the shops. As it’s an annual species don’t expect it to be particularly long-lived, but try to breed it and share the eggs with your fishkeeping friends.

These were spotted at Prestwood Petzone in Staffordshire. The dormant eggs of this and other Nothobranchius are easily obtainable via Ebay if you fancy a project.  

Price: On sale for £7.99.

This item first appeared in the April 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.