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Pachypanchax playfairi

By Clint Norwood

Pachypanchax playfairi © Joe Weber
This image, used with permission is from
Pachypanchax playfairi, also known as the Jeweled Panchax, the Sawback Killifish or the Seychelles Killifish, has an undeserved reputation for aggression. My personal experience has shown this fish to be quite gentle as killifish go, and you will hardly ever see a torn fin or missing scales in a playfairi tank. In fact, upon first acquiring this species I put some small killy culls in their tank only to watch them grow to some very good specimens. This was due in part, I think, to the un finicky eating habits of the playfairi setting an example for the culls.

P. playfairi acquires a total length of about 3 1/2 to 4 inches if raised under optimum conditions. It is cigar shaped, being quite round in the middle especially on the females. The sides are adorned with red and gleaning green spots on a olive to tan background, with the same pattern continuing on the fins of the males. The males also sometimes have a black border running around the unpaired fins. The female's fins are clear with the exception of a small black spot on the dorsal fin, also known as a rivulus spot. Both sexes have a white belly.

Water conditions seem to be of little importance to their health , well being and spawning ability as long as it is fairly clean. P. Playfairi will eat most standard fish foods including flakes, freeze dried, frozen and live fare. They have an excellent appetite and frequent heavy feedings will insure large, healthy fertile specimens.

Spawning the Playfairi can be accomplished in several ways. Being a plant spawner, eggs will be laid among the plants in a planted aquarium where you can remove the breeders after 2 weeks or dip out the fry as they appear and raise them in separate containers. Spawning mops can also be used. These are mops made of synthetic yarn where the fish will lay their eggs, mistaking them for plants. The mops can be transferred to rearing tanks or the eggs can be picked off the mops and placed in a small receptacle for the two week incubation.

P.playfairi fry will consume baby brine shrimp and/or microworms within hours after hatching. Flakes and other progressively larger foods can be added to their diet as they grow. The fry will begin sexing out at 6 to 8 weeks and begin spawning at 10-12 weeks, although full adult size will take another month or two.

P. playfairi has one strange and notable trait, the scales on their back stick out giving it the appearance of having dropsy, but in this species this is normal, hence the name "Saw Back".
Note: I wrote this article many years ago. At that time playfairi were a common killifish, easy to find. No so now. If you do find some, grab em. Image

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