Factsheet 21

Nothobranchius palmqvisti. Lonnberg 1907.

This beautiful little killifish is a native of Kenya and Tanzania. It is a fairly easy fish to keep and breed although one does have to wait for the results of a successful spawning.

I use a small tank to keep and breed these fish. One of approx 2 gallons capacity will be quite adequate. (10 x 8 x 8) They are tolerant of water conditions – providing it is clean! I use a mixture of rain and tap water which reduces the hardness to around 10° G. A small sponge filter is used. Food consists of most live food when available. Tubifex features strongly in their diet together with Daphnia and ‘mossie larvae’. Breeding is accomplished using the time-honoured method. A small margarine tub thoroughly cleaned (and rinsed!) is part filled with peat. It is vitally important that the peat is pure and not laced up with additives for the gardener. It is usual to boil the peat before use. This will remove much of the tannin in the peat and will also serve to wash away the very fine particles. The lid of the tub has a small hole cut into it which allows the fish to enter, whilst at the same time, preventing most of the peat from being evicted to the general area of the aquarium. The male will soon entice the female into the tub and spawning takes place. Eggs are laid singly in the peat and spawning is more or less continuous. Over the course of one week, about 30 to 40 eggs will be deposited in the peat. It is a good idea to then harvest the eggs and refill the spawning tub. The eggs and peat are poured into a fine meshed net and the water squeezed out of the peat. At this stage, the peat should have the feel of ‘damp tobacco’. Careful observation will reveal a number of clear eggs. Now the wait. The peat is placed in a plastic bag and securely tied. I use a double bag just to make sure the peat does not dry out, because if it does, the eggs will also dry out and will not hatch.

If you are breeding more than one species of Notho then it is essential to label the bag with its contents. Also put on the bag, when the eggs are due for hatching. The bag of peat and eggs, are now stored for approximately four months. I place mine in an old food canister and leave them where I can see it in the fish house. Generally, the eggs will be ready for hatching sometime between 2 and 4 months. Prior to placing in water, look at the eggs with a magnifying glass. The eggs should be showing signs of having an embryo in them and are termed ‘eyed up’. Place the eggs in a small tank of water of similar composition to that in which they were spawned. The fry will generally hatch out within a few hours if the development of the eggs has reached the appropriate stage. Prior to hatching the eggs, it is a good idea to get the brine shrimp hatcher going. The fry when they emerge are immediately looking for food and newly hatched brine shrimp is ideal. Progression to chopped tubifex and sifted daphnia is soon accomplished. Because these fish are annuals, their growth rate is rapid to say the least. Within six weeks, they are already sexually mature and are capable of spawning. Needless to say, with the amount of food being added to the tank, water changes are essential – almost on a daily basis. This is a very pretty fish, which always shows well.

© Pete Cottle, 2005. This fact sheet may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.