Aplocheilichthys pumilus is a small African killifish and a member of the group of fishes known as ‘lampeyes’. Described by George Albert Boulanger in 1906 it’s known as the Tanganyikan lampeye. This species is found under several scientific names including Lacustricola pumilus and Micropanchax pumilus. The specific name ‘pumilus’ means small.
Distribution & Availability
A. pumilus is not yet established in the trade and can only be obtained from hobby breeders. The fish in this article has the collection code ‘Burundi, CI 2008’.
Males – a very pretty fish that is small by killifish standards but is actually one of the larger lampeyes. (5.5cm SL). Typical killifish elongated body with dorsal and anal fins situated well to the rear. A broad dark horizontal stripe splits the body in half. The upper surface is light brown with a strip of metallic green above the dark stripe. The belly is white fading to light blue towards the tail. All the unpaired fins are splashed with orange and have a dark fringe.
Females – smaller (4cm) than the male and less colourful. There are some metallic blue highlights on the rear part of the body.
Easy to keep and seems to tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Just avoid extremes and keep the temperature above about 24oC. The males can bicker with each other but damage is rare. Can be kept in groups as long as there are more females.
- Tank size: 30cm minimum
- Decoration: provide plenty cover for the females to hide in as the males can be quite insistent.
- Temperature: 24 – 28oC
- pH: 6.5 – 7.5
- Hardness: 3 – 12odH
Will accept crushed dried and frozen foods. Some live food such as grindal worms or daphnia once or twice a week will keep the fish in breeding condition.
Easy to breed in the normal non-annual killifish manner. Keep a pair or a trio in a small (30cm or less) tank and provide sunken and floating wool mops. Inspect the mops each day and pick out the two or three eggs you will find. In my experience the females usually, but not always, spawned on the sunken mops.
I placed the eggs in a tub with an airstone providing a little current and put the fry in a tank with lots of Java moss as soon as they hatched. The eggs take around two weeks to hatch and do not appear to be prone to fungus.
Let the fry graze on the microscopic food they find in the moss and start feeding vinegar eels and newly hatched brine shrimp when they are a week or two old. The fry are quite slow to grow to begin with but start to get adult colouration when only around 2cm SL. This will be about two months post hatching.
The fry have the bright eyes that the gives this group of fish their common name but they lose it after 6 weeks or so.
USA Show standards
- Size: Males – 5.5cm; females 4.5cm
- Breeding category: B
- Show class: TC
Aplocheilichthys pumilus is a beautiful killifish that is easy to keep and breed. It doesn’t nip the fins of tank mates such as corydoras catfish and is recommended for community tanks. The only note of caution is that the males can be somewhat hard on the females. If you can find them, give them a try.