Aphyosemion australe (Rachow 1921)

Park Mondah. Circulating in the UK 2007 - 2009 at least.

Meaning of Name

South of the Equator.

First Description

Haplochilus calliurus var. australis (Rachow 1921)

Rachow, A. 1921. Die Zahnkarpfen oder Karpflinge. Teil 2. Die eigebarende Zahnkarpfen (Cyprinodontidae oviparae). Die Gattung Haplochilus. pp 26-27.

In: K.Stansch, Bibliothek fur Aquarien - und Terrarienkunde, Braunschweig, no 16.


6 cm.


No data available for type specimens. D = 9-11, A = 14-16, D/A = +7, ll = 29-32.


Variable - 15-17 (19).





  • Haplochilus aus Kap Lopez. Arnold 1913.
  • Haplochilus species (cameronensis) aus Cap Lopez; Kramp 1914.
  • Haplochilus cameronensis non Boulenger, 1903; Boulenger 1915 (in part).
  • Haplochilus var. sudliche Form; Rachow 1920.
  • Haplochilus calliurus var. australis Rachow 1921.
  • Haplochilus calliurus var. A; Kuhnt 1922/1923.
  • Panchax polychromus Ahl 1924.
  • Haplochilus calliurus australis Rachow 1924.
  • Haplochilus calliurus australis Schreitmuller 1926
  • Aphyosemion australe Rachow 1928
  • Panchax australe Meinken 1930.
  • Aphyosemion australe var. hjerresenii Meinken 1953 (nomen nudum - Aquarium bred strain)
  • Aphyosemion australe var. hjerreseni Hjerresen 1954
  • Aphyosemion australe australe Axelrod et al. 1962
  • Aphyosemion australe hjerreseni Scheel 1968
  • Aphyosemion polychromum Scheel 1968
  • Aphyosemion hjerreseni Meinken 1953 nom nudum
  • Doré
  • Batanga
  • Kap (Cape) Lopez
  • Machemba
  • Mayumba
  • Park Mondah
  • Port Gentil
  • Cap (Cape) Estérias
  • Cap Estérias BSWG 97 / 24
  • Cap Esterias GLP 06 / 1
  • Cape Estoril BSWG 97 / 24 (probable corruption of above)
  • Yombo River
  • BDBG 04 / 19
  • DNA 01 - Cap Estérias
  • EBT 96 / 27
  • GLP 06 / 1
  • GJS 00 / 30
  • GJS 00 / 31
  • GWW 86 / 33
  • JH 76 / 2 - 10km east of Pointe Noire
  • JH 79 / 204 - 1 km east of Mayumba
  • JH 79 / 209 - 28 km east of Mayumba
  • KW / 04
  • LEC 93 / 25 - PK 16·3 km to Cap Estérias
  • LEC 93 / 26 - PK 17·1 km to Cap Estérias
  • ST 4, 17, 18, 22 - Stadch 1962 collections

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

BKA photo taken in the '70's.


BSWG 97 / 21
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes



Cape Esterias - Sometimes this location & Cape Lopéz are confused. In fact a distance of 100 miles as the crow flies separates the 2 Capes.
Old spellings for this location include - Kap Esterias (German), Cap Esterias (French), Cabo Esterias (Spanish).

A.australe Cap Esterias EBT 96 / 27
Photo courtesy of George Funkner

A.australe Cap Estérias BSWG 97 / 24
Photo courtesy of George Funkner

Cap Estérias. Wild female.
Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Cape Lopéz - Many old spellings can be seen for this location - Kap Lopez (German), Cap Lopez (French), Cabo Lopez (Spanish).

A.australe Cape Lopez
Photo courtesy of George Funkner

Doré -

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Gamba -

Gamba. Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl


Gold -

Gold. Taken at the 2004 SKS convention.
Photo courtesy of Dick Cox


Gold. Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Photo courtesy of André Paes de Almeida


Gold. Photo Courtesy of Pat Rimmer

Mayumba - A town/small city on the coast of southern Gabon. Brought into the UK early 1980's. Aquarium strain probably derived from Huber's collection in 1979 - JH 204 - 1 km east of Mayumba at an unloading dock in a small brook with little running water with stagnant zones.
The original collection location is now thought to be lost under a building development.

A.australe Mayumba (1980's import)

Park Mondah - I think this is in the Akanda National Park, north of Libreville, Gabon. Mondah is the bay on it's coastal border. This is an area of Mangroves going into rainforest. Access is difficult & probably done by boat from the bay. Islands of dry land appear in the swampy areas.
I gave Roger Gladwell some fish & he wrote an article in BKA newsletter No.531, December 2009. Fish were set up with water temperature 78-80°F, rainwater with a heaped teaspoon of salt & a mop. After 5 days the first egg appeared. After a water change egg laying stopped.
Water incubation takes 17-20 days but some take a further 10 days to hatch.

BSWG 97 / 24 - Introduced to Germany & Switzerland in 1997

EBT 96 / 27 - Introduced in February 1996 from the same location as LEC 93 / 25.

LEC 93 / 25 - Introduced to Belgium & Germany January 1993.

  • Loango National Park. This link takes you to the lodge where you can view the area & reserve accomodation etc.
  • Thys 1960 - Ogondjwé Island, Gabon
  • Stadch 1962 - Djembo,Yangala, Lake Youbi, Labanzi, Yanga & Sandra all in Southern Congo.
  • Mathied 1977 - Port Gentil
  • Agnesé 1980 - Between Bas Kouilou & Madingo, south west Congo
  • Teugels 1990 - Near Youmbi, Lac Youmbi, Congo
    3 km Kola, Bondo river, trib. L. Yangala, Congo
    Mouela river, trib. Loundji & L. Nanga, Congo
Type Locality

Cape Lopez.


A coastal strip from northern Gabon to southern Congo. Thought not to range further than 20 kms from the coast.


Found in swamps along the coastal regions of Gabon & Congo. Prefers small stagnant pools to running streams. Collected in pure, soft water over dead leaves (Raffia/palm sp). Decayed vegetable matter causes the water to be brown in colour. Base can be mud or whitish sand.
In the dry period streams can run dry & only deeper areas retain water forming pools.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Many 'man-made colour strains exist in aquaria, these being; Chocolate, Gold, Orange & Albino.

Wild caught males have a deep brown body colour. Variability between wild populations is small.

This is a sp. which is often confused with it's close relative A.ahli which differs from A.australe in the anal & caudal areas. The anal fin of A.ahli has a wide yellow outer margin which does not occur on A.australe whose outer margin is usually more orange/brown. The caudal fin in A.australe is also more flared than A.ahli. This fin in A.ahli contains vertical red/brown bands in the centre of the fin in most populations (Kribi for example but is not always present in other populations.

Colour/Pattern Variability Low in wild populations but high in aquarium bred fish.

First imported into Germany in July 1913. This consignment was said to have been caught in the Cap Lopez area of Gabon. In 1913 Arnold & Cramp described these specimens as Haplochilus aus Kap Lopez. These fish were brought in by an unknown sailor & purchased by Wollmer (sometimes referred to as Wolmer).

In 1921 Rachow proposed the name Haplochilus calliurus var. australis.

In 1924 Ahl described Panchax polychromus from 27 specimens said to have been collected in the Cap Lopez area of Gabon. Later investigation proved them to be an aquarium population of A.australe.

Öser collected this sp. in 1928 whilst travelling on the German merchant ship Waganda. The ship stopped at Port Gentil. It is considered that he collected them further inland though. These fish were brought alive to Germany.

Meinken described an orange fish in 1953 as Aphyosemion australe hjerreseni. This proposed sub-species could not be valid as it was merely a colour variant of the regular A.australe which was named after the breeder Hjerresen. This gold strain originated when Hjerresen found a female with a white head in a batch of regular A.australe youngsters. The female was crossed with one of her brothers. Out of the 100 offspring produced from this match 4 developed well into the now familiar yellow/gold colouration. A pair from the 4 new gold fish were spawned & specimens from this spawning were sent to Meinken in 1953 who named them A.australe hjerreseni.

Collected by Stauch in 1962, 1963. These were deposited in the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris under the name of cameronense.

Collected by Radda & Huber in 1976 at Cap Estérias.

History of Panchax polychromus Ahl 1924

Ahl described the species from 27 specimens reportedly being caught from Cap Lopez. It was later considered that this material was aquarium bred stock as the fish was known as 'Haplochilus from Cap Lopez' since 1913.
In 1924 Rachow considered them to be a synonym for A.australe.

Breeding Notes

A.australe will lay their eggs in top or bottom mops, also plants (floating & submerged) & even a gravel base. Water incubation takes 10-20 days. Fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp on hatching although infusoria can be offered for the first couple of days.
They are perhaps the first Aphyosemion sp. which many hobbyists try to breed although they can at times prove a little difficult. This may be due to in-breeding over many generations causing eggs to disintegrate.
One solution to get round this is to outcross with fish of the same colour variety. Another method is to raise the temperature to 85°F, put a good quantity of salt in, lower your pH to 5-6 (gradually).

Their is a secret to breeding this sp. which I will now tell:-
This sp. is collected in biotopes which have been measured at only 4 mg per litre of oxygen content. 8 mg is regarded as the upper limit of oxygen saturation in water & 4 is regarded as a very low figure especially in Gabon collections.
Low oxygen levels, very low pH (5 or under) & high temperatures.
This method works & gives a high egg yield - try it.

Diameter of Egg 0·9 - 1 mm (Kadlec K/N 281), 1·2mm (Huber KilliData).

A sp. commonly seen at auctions & aquarium shops. Ideally suited to beginners as they are easy to maintain.

A population from Mayumba was distributed in the early '80's.

Wildekamp in 'World of Killies' Vol 1 reported that it was thought current fish in our tanks have been bred through stock caught before World War I. This is obviously very difficult to confirm but suffice it to say, they have been in captivity for a long period of time.

Some populations have been found to be genetically different & possibly future research may yield new sp.