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Aphyosemion Australe - The Lyretail Killy

By Clint Norwood
      The Killifish Aphyosemion australe (pronounced: af-ee-oh-see-me-on  awe-stray-lee) is my all time favorite aquarium fish. I like the shape, color and behavior of this species.

Young Male, click for larger picture.
The picture (right) can give you a idea of the beauty of this magnificent little jewel. This is the Red/Orange variety of this fish. There is the original variety that has the natural Tan/Brown color, both varieties have all the colorful markings and long flowing fins.
        The Latin or scientific name "Aphyosemion" means: fish with a flag or banner, and "australe" means: south or southern. The common name for Aphyosemion australe is "The Lyretail", of course named for it's elongated tail fin extensions.
        Keeping the Lyretail is fairly simple. A pair will do just fine in a one gallon fishbowl. They prefer water that is slightly acid and soft, but they can usually adapt to your local water conditions. Normal room temperature that is comfortable for humans will suit the Lyretail, with no heater needed unless the temperature gets below 68 degrees. Feeding can consist of the regular flake foods and some frozen fish food. But if you intend to spawn them and raise some fry, then some live food will probably be necessary.

A male Gold/Orange Aphyosemion austale
        Spawning can be accomplished in several ways. Lyretails, like most Killifish, lay several eggs everyday either in live plants or in the substrate. Since the eggs take about two weeks to hatch you can let a pair spend a couple of weeks in an aquarium and then move them to another aquarium when you notice some fry swimming around. Or you can make some "mops" (strands of yarn tied together) and let the pair lay their eggs in the mops and collect them to move to another aquarium for hatching. Another way to spawn Lyretails is to put some boiled (sterilized) peat moss in the tank. They will lay their eggs in the peat and you collect the peat, dry it out somewhat, and store it in a plastic bag for about a month. Then you just add some water and get "instant fish".
        Regardless of how you get the fry, once you have them they will need some small live foods to get a good start. Most breeders use baby brine shrimp and/or microworms. When they get about two weeks old you can introduce them to frozen and flake foods and gradually wean them over to it.
        Raising the Lyretail is not much of a problem. Just change some of their water every couple of weeks and feed a variety of foods and you can look forward to having them around for up to two years, which is their normal life span.

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