BAP: Report _JORDANELLA FLORIDAE_ - American Flagfish Anna Stevenson, CAS

The flagfish in an egg-laying toothcarp - family _Cyprinodontidae_ and is largely found in southern Florida and the Yucatan.

These killifishes' habitat may be brackish marshes, ponds and even shallow irrigation ditches and canals.

The American flagfish is often ignored by both the dealer and the aquarist since they do not show bold coulurs - as to behaviour they are most certainly a mono species tank fish. Although the colour pattern is variable these fishes are basically olive-green with a checkerboard pattern of dark stripes and reddish spots. Both sexes have a distinct black spot on the side, which is larger on the female. Sometimes the female sports a dark spot on the dorsal fin. During the breeding period they transfer into an attractive fish covered with irridescent spots of all the colours of the rainbow. The female brightens up as well but the male is the peacock of the family.

_Jordanella floridae_ males grow to approx. 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) while the female is slightly smaller but more robust body.


Being omnivorous the pair were fed a variety of live and home- made foods and heavy doses of spirulina. A five gallon tank was planted with temple plant since it grows nicely in brackish water, Java moss, gravel for digging a nest, coconut shells and a killie spawning mop to be used as a refuge for the female. The temperature ran about 75F, pH 8 and a corner filter was added. Two teaspoons of salt per gallon was added to make the water brackish.


The female began to dig small impressions in the gravel here and there for about a week. The American flagfish is known to use cichlid-fashion spawning procedures. The male is extremely rough although the female can turn the tables during the courtship. Once the spawning begins, they will lay eggs daily for several days to a week, usually in small batches of 20 eggs.

I observed the chase for about a week but did not see any eggs. The eggs are fairly large approx. 1 mm and clear. Once laid, the male will guard these by hovering over them, fanning with his fins. I did not see any such behaviour but the female was a lot thinner. Another spawning down the tubes! I could not be more wrong. Just to make sure I checked the killie spwaning mop and, lo and behold, 75+ large eggs were deposited all singly in the strands of yarn.

I picked the eggs out of the mop and placed them in large container -- which floats on top of the surface of the tank -- a usual procedure for my other killie eggs -- and added Java moss. In about 8 days the first fry began to hatch. Over several days more than 50 fry of different sizes were swimming around.


Microworms and finely powdered spirulina were fed and within a week to ten days the fry could easily be transferred to a five gallon tank set up similarly as the spawning tank.

One month later more than 20 fry now 1/4 inch made it past infancy. The larger fry do not hesitate to eat their brethren so be prepared for a much smaller batch than what was there originally. 10% water changes were done every two weeks. The fry grow fast and are sexually mature at three months.


1. Don't count on a rapid turn over to fellow hobbyists. The _Jordanella floridae_ has a reputation of being pugnacious, classing it as a mono species fish and it is NOT super colourful.

2. The breeding male has departed hence (3 years old) and his partner is happily swimming in a 30 gallon brackish tank with puffer, scat, orange chromide and glassfish.

3. The 20 plus fry are set up in a 20 gallon tank and are now 1 1/2 inches or more. Again lots of plants, caves (coconut shells) gravel. The fry are growing like weeds.

4. Hope to spawn the flagfish again at a later date but without a mop so I can observe the pit with the male guarding the nest and the fry being led around by the male in `cichlid style.'


_Aquarium Fish of the World_, I. Petrovicky, Hamlyn 1988

_Breeding Aquarium Fishes - Book 3_, Dr. H. R. Axelrod et al, TFH Pub. 1973

----------------------------------------------------------------- Stevenson, Anna. 1992. "_Jordanella floridae_ - American Flagfish_". _The Calquarium_ Vol. 34, No. 12 (August): pg. 22. Calgary Aquarium Society, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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