Ahl's Lyretail (Aphyosemion ahli)

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Ahl's Lyretail
Aphyosemion ahli
Ahl's Lyretail (Aphyosemion ahli)
Name Ahl's Lyretail
Name Lat. Aphyosemion ahli
Family African Rivulines
Family lat. Nothobranchiidae
Order Killifishes & Livebearers
Order lat. Cyprinodontiformes
Origin Western Africa
Habitat Ponds, Swamps
Diet Carnivore
pH 6.0-7.0
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Pair, harem
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Substrate spawner
Breeding Simple
Life Span 2-4 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 6 cm
Temperature 21-26 °C
Hardness < 10 °dH
Aquarium ~ 60 l
US Units
Size 2.4"
Temperature 70-79 °F
Hardness < 178 ppm
Aquarium ~ 15 gal

Distribution and habitat

The range of Ahl's splendid carps is southwestern Cameroon from Dibamba southward along the coastline to the Rio Benito drainage basin in western Equatorial Guinea. They live in pools, swamps and floodplains of rainforest streams and small rivers. There are numerous differently colored site variants.


The aquarium should have dense planting, with hiding and retreat possibilities (roots) and provide sufficient swimming space. A soft, dark substrate covered with some foliage (e.g. sea almond leaves) and slightly shaded light (floating plants) is ideal

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


In nature they feed mainly on insects and insect larvae. The food supply consists of live, frozen and dry food. For a balanced diet, feed once a day with a high-quality, protein-rich dry food (flakes, granules, micropellets) and with cyclops, moina, daphnia, artemia, mosquito larvae, etc. (live or frozen)

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. Only feed as much as will be eaten within a few minutes. A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

They are shy, peaceful fish and should be kept in pairs or in a harem, one male with 2-3 females. Males occasionally behave aggressively among themselves, so keeping multiple pairs or harems is only recommended in a larger and richly structured tank. They can be kept well in a species tank or also in a community tank with not too lively fish. Basically, only compatible fish species with similar demands on water condition and water temperature should be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

The male is larger and much more colorful than the more round-bellied female.

Reproduction and breeding

They are permanent spawners. The female spawns in all water layers and attaches the hard-shelled eggs with adhesive filaments to fine-feathered plants or a spawning mop. The fry usually hatch after 10-30 days. The eggs can also survive short dry periods and the fry will then hatch a few hours after the first rain. Fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food (Artemia nauplii, microworms). In a community tank breeding is hardly possible, because the spawn is easy prey.


These semi-annual killifish live in waters that dry out occasionally and only for short periods of time.

There are numerous site variants, such as Kribi, Cellucam, Lobe, Sanganali or Nange. Different site variants should not be maintained together as they can cross (hybridize). They like to jump, so the aquarium should be well covered. Foliage (sea almond, oak, etc.) enriches the water with humic substances, naturally lowers the pH, and when decaying promotes the development of microorganisms, which are a valuable secondary food source.

The well-being of the fish should be monitored regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even when contaminant levels have not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); BAENSCH & RIEHL (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 4, Mergus Verlag; RADDA & PÜRZL (1983): Killifische aus aller Welt, Band 3, Verlag Otto Hoffmann;  ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF