lyretail panchax

Scientific name Aphyosemion australe
Descriptor Rachow
Year of description 1921
IUCN category (World) LC
Family Nothobranchiidae
Genus Aphyosemion
Aphyosemion australe Aphyosemion australe


The Aphyosemion australe is a killifish native to Central Africa.

It is sometimes called lyretail panchax, named after the place where the first individuals were discovered. Another name, "lyre tail," refers to the shape of this species' tail. However, this name is somewhat misleading since males of many Aphyosemion species have lyre-shaped tails as well.

Who is it?


  • Type
  • Average size
    5 cm
  • Maximum size
    8 cm
  • Longevity
    3 year
  • Type
  • Average size
    5 cm
  • Maximum size
    8 cm
  • Longevity
    3 year

How to recognize the lyretail panchax ?

The body is elongated and slender. The unpaired fins are elongated with long filaments. The dorsal fin has 9-11 rays; the anal fin has 14-16 rays. The dorsal fin / anal fin position ratio is 1/6-7. There are 29-32 scales along the lateral line.


The color pattern varies among populations.

Male : the general body color is dark reddish-brown with green iridescence on the anterior flanks. Three dark red oblique bars on the operculum. Red spots irregularly distributed on the flanks (a population from Cap Esterias has these red spots arranged in discontinuous horizontal lines, a population from Mayumba has irregular vertical bars). The dorsal fin is dark red-brown with red spots and a dark red band followed by an orange margin. The light orange margins turn white in the long, thin extension. The anal fin, yellow at the base, turns dark red-brown with a dark red submarginal band and a narrow white tip ending in a white acumen. The caudal fin is dark red-brown in the center, with a few dark red spots on the upper and lower parts followed by a dark red band and orange margins, extending from the fin into long white extensions. The eye has a green iris.

Female : the general body color is light red-brown. The scales on the back usually have dark gray tips. There are red spots irregularly distributed on the flanks. All fins are colorless with small dark red spots on the unpaired fins. Older females often exhibit a vague pattern similar to males on the unpaired fins, including white extensions, although they are never as long as in males. The eye, like in males, has a green iris.

There are several varieties in addition to wild strains. The most common is the "gold" variety, lacking black pigments except in the eyes. But there is also a "chocolate" variety, much darker, while still retaining the same patterning.

Sexual dimorphism

Males have brighter coloration. Females are pink-brown and relatively dull. Their scales are slightly dotted with red.

Males are also larger than females.

Behaviour & Life cycle

  • diet
  • Sociability
    living as a couple or alone
  • territorial
  • Way of living

These fish live in small scattered groups in vegetation. They hunt aquatic microorganisms and small insects on the surface.


  • Reproduction
    ovipare qui dépose ses Œufs dans la végétation

This oviparous fish lays adhesive eggs, about 1.2 mm in diameter, in vegetation. In an aquarium, the egg incubation lasts about 3 weeks, sometimes a little longer.

Harmless species

This species does not represent any particular threats to humans when encountered in its natural environment.

Where to find it?

Geographic distribution & Conservation

Aphyosemion australe is endemic to Lower Guinea. The species is known from the mouth of the Ogôoué in northwestern Gabon, south to the enclave of Cabinda in Angola, and west to Congo.

The conservation status of this species seems to be of little concern, although the species is collected for commercial purposes.

What is its habitat?

Natural environment characteristics

  • Temperature
    22 - 26 °C
  • pH (acidity)
    4.5 - 6.5
  • gh (hardness)
    1 - 3
  • Flow

Biotope presentation

The species is found in shallow acidic waters (about 30 cm deep), secluded in marsh plants, under roots, or in decomposing leaves.

Living in the equatorial zone, the lyretail panchax experiences two dry seasons during the year, causing a significant variation in water levels. These fish are often isolated in small ponds along rivers.

Species of the same biotope

Main recommendations for fishkeeping


In order to preserve wildlife, if you acquire this animal, it must not be released into the wild. See also, the Fishipedia charter.

Fishipedia supports the practice of responsible and environmentally friendly aquarium keeping. We encourage maintenance if it is motivated by a desire to understand the biological functioning of living things and if it is done with respect for animal life.

We believe that aquaristics is an opening to the discovery of aquatic environments, especially freshwater, and that this knowledge is necessary to better protect and respect these environments. Logically, we refute the compulsive purchase of animals that would not find a sufficient and / or adapted place in the host aquarium.

Our recommendations

  • Min volume
    20 liters
  • Population min
  • Temperature
    22 - 26 °C
  • pH (acidity)
    6 - 6.8


  • Difficulty breeding
  • Robustness
  • Behaviour
    moderately aggressive
  • Availability

General reminders

It is strongly advised to read the complete dedicated file and to get information on the feedbacks of maintenance of the envisaged animal, this to avoid any potential conflict whose end result is generally the death of the individual (or the other inhabitants). It is important not to overload your aquarium to limit pollution. This will make maintenance easier.

In nature, animals are subject to weather conditions and live in waters with variable characteristics. The recommendations offered by our team for aquarium maintenance are a guidance and cannot be assimilated to scientific datas.

General reminder on maintenance datas

Le démarrage d'un aquarium est une partie primordiale pour l'équilibre et le bien-être des poissons. Lorsque l'on met en eau un aquarium, l'eau passe naturellement par un cycle biologique : le cycle de l'azote. Celui-ci dure environ trois semaines. Tous les 2 jours, nous vous conseillons de tester votre eau jusqu'à ce que le taux de nitrite soit à zéro pendant plusieurs jours d'affilée.

Pour accélérer ce cycle, vous pouvez utiliser un activateur de bactéries comme JBL Denitrol. Cette solution riche en bactéries vivantes et enzymes permet une mise en place rapide du cycle de l'azote. Les poissons peuvent alors être introduits plus rapidement.

Il est important de tester l'eau de son aquarium régulièrement pour maintenir un environnement sain pour les poissons et les autres habitants. Les tests d'eau permettent de mesurer les niveaux de différents paramètres tels que le pH, la dureté totale, ainsi que les taux de nitrates, de nitrites et d'ammoniaque.

Pour réaliser ces tests, vous pouvez utiliser des produits d'analyse spécialisés tels que JBL ProScan qui permet de réaliser un diagnostic de l'eau directement via un smartphone. Il existe également des coffrets de tests plus classiques de bandelettes, comme JBL PROAQUATEST.

En cas d’usage de l’eau du robinet, vous pouvez utiliser un conditionneur d’eau de type Biotopol de JBL pour éliminer les substances nocives comme le chlore, le cuivre, le plomb et le zinc. Les conditionneurs d'eau garantissent une meilleure santé aux poissons et une meilleure croissance des plantes.

Chlorine and chloramine are dangerous for the health of animals. Used to disinfect water, these agents are present in significant quantities in tap water. We recommend using an anti-chlorine agent every time you change the water. In addition to chlorine, treatments and medicines sold for aquarium use sometimes contain dangerous heavy metals in high doses.

Specific needs for the lyretail panchax

The lyretail panchax is a species which lives naturally at a temperature between 22 °C and 26 °C. For proper maintenance, the temperature should never exceed the 29°C for long periods. Nitrate levels should remain below 50mg/L. To keep the water clean and unpolluted, plan on changing 20% to 30% of the water volume each month.

Breeding this species is accessible to any hobbyist. It is recommended to follow some basic rules and to be rigorous to achieve a good maintenance.

This species is particularly common in the aquarium trade. Animals from long-term breeding are usually acclimatized at a temperature of about 26 °C in neutral water.

Jumping fish

Be careful, the lyretail panchax is an excellent jumper, naturally using this faculty to change its living area or to escape from predators. The aquarium must be perfectly covered to prevent him from making a deadly jump...

Cohabitation & Environment

The lyretail panchax is a fish which it is advisable to maintain in specific aquarium. A 20 liter tank is sufficient to consider its breeding. Associating it with other species is not fundamentally impossible but a documentation work is necessary for the constitution of the population.

Acid Water Maintenance

The lyretail panchax living naturally in acidic water, generally in "black" or "sieved" water, the implementation of a filtration on peat is ideal for its balance. Adding decaying leaves and alder fruit can significantly improve living conditions by naturally increasing acidity of some water.

Tips for feeding

The lyretail panchax is carnivorous.

This species can eat dry food (flakes, pellets), fresh food and frozen food. To avoid deficiencies, it is recommended to vary the types of food.

You should not overfeed your residents to avoid polluting the water. For most species, it is better to feed a few small portions each day rather than one large meal.

Food recommendations from our partner JBL - Products PRONOVO

Reproduction protocol

  • Maintenance difficulty
  • egg-laying protection

Hybridization risks

In general, it is advised not to mix several species of the same genus or different varieties of the same species, to avoid the risks of hybridization.

To go further

Species of the same family

To read on the web

Sources & Contributions

Participation & Validation

The Fishipedia team and specialist contributors are committed to providing high-quality content. However, although the information comes from scientific sources or testimonials from specialists, the cards may contain inaccuracies.

Benoit Chartrer

Benoit Chartrer

Didier Paugy

Didier Paugy


Translation done with the valuable contribution of our translators, who make this information available to a wider audience. We sincerely thank them for their commitment.

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Template and content © Fishipedia - Unauthorized reproduction without prior request - ISSN 2270-7247 - Last modification 12/11/2023

Scientific partners

Species of the same family

Same genus

Species of the same biotope

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