Fundulopanchax filamentosus Meinken 1933

Tim Addis

Adapted for the BKA website by the author from K/N 227.

Photographs by the author, unless stated otherwise. Slide of painting supplied by 'Willi' Harvey. Line drawings by Ruud Wildekamp.


Fundulopanchax filamentosus Ikeja


This article first appeared in the July 1984 Killi-News No.227 & has been modernised in places. An example is the change in Genus name from Aphyosemion to Fundulopanchax.

Over the years I have maintained & bred many populations of Fundulopanchax filamentosus Meinken 1933 including Ikeja, Benin, Lome & many wild imports. Before going deeper into the article I would like to go over the history of the sp.

Although Fp.filamentosum was described by Meinken in 1933 they were referred to by Kruger in 1913 as 'The steel blue Fundulus' These were thought to have originated from the mouth of the Congo (now Zaire) River although this information was considered unreliable. Later, in 1913 the aquarium society 'Nymphea' corrected this description & stated that this fish had been collected by one of their members at Lome (Togo).

In 1915 Dieterich had a similar strain but the anal fin differed from Kruger's fish in having a broken red sub-marginal band which formed 3 blotches. On the basis of the caudal fin resembling more Fp.arnoldi than Fp.filamentosus he attached the name 'arnoldi var.Blue' (or blue variety of A.arnoldi).

In 1917 Sachs bought an identical pair & stated that this fish was also known by the name 'Fundulus aus Togo' (or Fundulus from Togo) but was rare in Germany at the time.

In 1930 Meinken identified this fish as A.gardneri. This is probably the origin of the confusion in aquarium literature between Fp.gardneri & Fp.filamentosus. This mix up appeared in 'The Aquarium' dated December 1952, where the photograph, taken by Innes, & text concerned Fp.filamentosus, but the piece was under the heading 'Aphyosemion gardneri (Boulenger)'. This photograph shows heavy red blotches on the flanks similar to the Ikeja population, with heavy red vertical bars near the caudal fin. Some books still available show this confusion.

The type specimen was taken from fish which appeared in Germany in 1931/32 & was subsequently named by Meinken in 1933 who also produced a water colour painting of the fish. 'Willi' Harvey (then BKA Technical Editor) showed me a slide of this painting in 1983 & kindly gave me a copy to print in the Newsletter.


I was immediately struck by the red lines radiating outwards on the caudal fin & the lower outer margin of this fin being orange with a sub-marginal band of pale blue followed by a band of red. The anal fin, as can be seen in the photograph, was spotted without a marginal band.

'Willi' kept this fish in 1936. They were kept by friends of 'Willi's in Germany until the end of the war in 1945.

In 1950 'Willi' made a trip to Germany to buy fish. On his arrival in Hamburg he contacted Dr.Ladiges who informed him that a large consignment of fish had recently arrived from Nigeria. The sp. brought back to Edinburgh were then known as A.filamentosum (Clausen type - wrongly named A.arnoldi), A.coeruleum (now called Fp.sjoestedti), A.fallax, A.bivittatum & Aplocheilichthys macrurus. Scheel in 'Rivulins of the Old World' states that A.filamentosum was imported into Germany in 1952 but this account pre-dates Scheel by 2 years.

In 1959 Clausen caught live individuals from Ijebu Ode & gave some to Scheel who was able to breed from them & establish an aquarium stock. These were crossed with the import of 1950 (1952?) with the result that the eggs grew on to fully viable fish with these producing fully viable offspring.

Fp.filamentosus Benin

Fp.filamentosus Lome

Fp.filamentosus Ouidah - photo Dan Katz


In 1965 an import of A.filamentosum arrived in Germany from the Badagri area of south west Nigeria. In all probability this was possibly the introduction of the invalid name of 'ruwenzori' or 'Aphyosemion ruwenzori'. Just how this name came about is not known as Ruwenzori is situated in a mountainous area in East Africa well out of the range of A.filamentosum. This fish was reported to have an orange tail & was also known as 'The orange Tailed filamentosum'. This orange colouration only appeared on young males & tended to fade with maturity.

Fp.filamentosus (east of Badagri, Lagos State southwestern Nigeria).

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Fp.filamentosus. (Badagri roundabout, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria).

Fp.filamentosus. (Ibefon, Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria).

Fp.filamentosus. (Lome, southern Togo).

Line Drawings by Ruud Wildekamp from 'A World of Killies' Vol III.

The Ikeja population was known to be in the UK in the later half of the 1970's. The Benin & Lome populations showed up at the same time of around the early 1980's.

Colouration between populations is variable & the photographs depict this.

The size attained by this sp. is 5-6 cm. Meristics: D = 13, A = 14, D/A = 0, Karyotype: 18 (24), 15 (21).

Fp.filamentosus Lagos commercial import 1980's.

Breeding this sp. is fairly easy. I set pairs up in bare 3 gallon tanks with a bowl of peat & a couple of spawning mops for cover. Males are prone to fighting each other in the presense of females & display splayed fins swimming broadside onto each other with gill covers extended, wriggling their bodies until one of them makes a move & they roll around each other. Some males are more aggressive than others, as, although fighting is regular no damage occurs in some cases whilst in others the looser is nearly killed. The Benin population for example have shown no mercy in my tanks while the population from Ikeja are fairly peaceful with little damage resulting. Lome are a very shy population hiding in mops most of the time.

I usually take the peat containing the small (1 - 1.3mm) eggs out every 2 weeks & dry it out in the usual manner leaving it fairly wet compared to east African annuals. This is then stored at about 70-75'F for around 4 weeks whereupon it is wetted in a small tank. Numbers of fry are generally quite high & these are fed on newly hatched brine shrimp & microworm. The growth of the fry is fairly rapid.

This sp. is fairly short lived & for this reason I maintain them in fairly cool water of about 70'F.

The water chemistry in the breeding tank is not too critical as long as extremes are avoided. I have talked with many members who have found them easy to breed.

I have noticed that this sp. will quickly develop clamped fins if water changes & usual husbandry are neglected.

One member I spoke to found that the fry of the Lome population were hard to rear & needed splitting up into small groups. I tried this & must admit that the fish did seem to grow faster.

I would like to thank 'Willi' Harvey for sending informative letters, papers & photographs which helped in writing this piece.

Literature Cited :

  • Scheel J.J. - Rivulins of the Old World.
  • Meinken - Aquarium Fische inwort und bild.
  • Innes - Aphyosemion gardneri (Boulenger), The Aquarium, Dec.1952.
  • Harvey F.W. - Personal correspondance.