Clown Killifish – Banded Panchax (Epiplatys annulatus)



The clown killifish or banded panchax (Epiplatys annulatus) is a freshwater fish species belonging to the Aplocheilidae family. It lives in freshwater ponds, streams, and marshes in Africa where it is native. It is popular with its vibrant colors and patterns. Epiplaty annulatus has thick black or blue stripes on the cream-colored body. Its dorsal and anal fins also feature bright combinations of blue, red, yellow, and orange.

This fish grows only up to 3-4 cm and is perfect for also nano aquariums. It spends most of the time swimming near the surface and may even try to jump out sometimes. Planting the aquarium with floating plants provides a cover and also gives it plenty of places to hide. It prefers to live in groups and displays more interesting variations in color when kept in groups of 8-10. Because of its peaceful temperament, it can be ideal in a community aquarium with small, peaceful Rasboras and Characins, Dwarf Cichlids, and other peaceful Killifish species.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: 23-26°C
pH: 6,0 – 7,5
Hardness: 1 – 8 dGH

Clown killifish spend most of their time near the surface of the water. The aquarium must be covered to prevent them from jumping out. The water must be slightly acidic to neutral without too much flow. The carbonate levels must be as low as possible since these fish are very sensitive to dissolved carbonates. Clown killifish prefer dim lighting conditions. So, decorating the aquarium with plenty of live plants helps to provide them enough shade while also giving these fishes plenty of places to hide.


Clown Killifish are primarily carnivorous. They must be fed with live and frozen foods daily such as daphnia, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, white worms, blood worms, and grindal worms. They also accept some dried and flake foods rich in protein with animal origin. Their food must be varied regularly for good development.



Breeding clown killifish is considered fairly easy but, they do not effectively breed in community aquariums and must be kept in a separate species tank to succeed. The tank should have a lot of hiding places and low lighting. The fish deposit their eggs in plants like Riccia, Taxiphylum spp. mosses, java, or woolen spawning mops. Some breeders report success using coconut fiber also.

Keeping a single male fish and 2-3 females together is best for a breeding group. They lay a few eggs each day and then rest before entering a new breeding cycle. After about 5 weeks, the fry starts to appear near the surface. For the first few days, the fry will eat micro-organisms present inside the moss species or the roots of plants like java fern and water lettuce. Once they start growing, it is recommended to feed them with newly hatched brine shrimp or microworms.


Adding dried leaves also provides some additional micro-organisms for the fry to feed on. Alternatively, some breeders incubate the eggs in a separate tank. This tank is pre-treated to prevent any harmful infections or bacteria and the fry is fed with infusoria. While adult fish do not eat their fry, larger fry could eat smaller ones. So, they should be separated once they start growing and reached a certain size. Invertebrates like snails or shrimps will also eat the eggs of Clown killifish and should be removed to succeed in breeding this killifish.

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