One of the more exciting species to become more commonly available over the past few years is Enneacampus ansorgii, a true freshwater pipefish that hails from rivers and streams of Central and West African countries such as Gabon, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea.
A number of online resources that talk about these fish seem to be older and assume that they
are brackish, but they have been found in completely fresh water and have held up very well in
freshwater aquariums. While they tend to do better in medium to slightly hard water than in very
soft water, they are quite happy in an aquarium with a neutral pH and water around 80ºF (27ºC).
While E. ansorgii, like most pipefish, has a reputation for being somewhat delicate, the
individuals that are now available usually come from European breeders who have successfully
produced a few generations. This makes the fish surprisingly hardy and adaptable to aquarium life.
If there is one challenge with these pipefish, it’s that they need to be fed frequently, and
their very small size and tiny mouths can make this difficult. They are easily outcompeted
for food by more boisterous fish and generally prefer tiny live foods such as daphnia. People
impor t repor t
Michael Griffith has been keeping fish
for 15 years and started working in a
retail fish store in 2004. He is now the
Marketing Manager for Segrest Farms
and is focused on developing educational
materials to help both hobbyists and
retailers be better fishkeepers. Michael’s
fish interests include sustainability and
conservation, and he enjoys finding
what makes underrated species special.
He is currently working to add pages
and articles to www.segrestfarms.com,
and you can connect with him on any
of Segrest Farms’s social media pages.
Dwarf African Pipefish (Enneacampus ansorgii )
Color and pattern are among the things that many fishkeepers look for when choosing what to stock in their tanks. As a whole, killifish are some of the most remarkable freshwater
fish that can be found in this regard. While most of them are small and
have an unfortunately short life cycle, they do tend to be beautiful.
Originating in the lowlands of French Guiana, Laimosemion xiphidius
lives slightly longer than many killies, a little more than three years,
but is still short-lived compared to many of the fish in the hobby. The
characteristic beauty of killifish is well on display with L. xiphidius,
whose body has a silver base with a bold black stripe edged with
brilliant turquoise and red.
L. xiphidius comes from creeks and tributaries of the Oyapock River.
These waterways are generally very soft and acidic, with a pH often
below 6.0 and almost no measurable hardness. Their natural habitats
are often relatively stagnant, so they don’t need particularly strong
water flow in an aquarium; however, they can be sensitive to poor water
quality. Use an efficient but gentle filtration method and follow a strict
If there is one particular problem with these fish, it’s that they are
very small, staying under 1½ inches ( 4 cm), yet they are accomplished
jumpers. This makes them experts at escaping from aquariums. If there
is any opening in the lid, there is a good chance this fish will find it.
The more tightly your tank cover fits, the better. Keeping L. xiphidius in
heavily planted aquariums with an abundance of hiding spots can make
them more comfortable and reduce this risk, but it still requires some
effort to keep them contained.
Many killifish keepers work to breed their fish, in part to compensate
for their short life spans. If you are going to try to breed L. xiphidius,
particularly wild-collected individuals, acclimate them to water that is as
close to their natural environment as possible. Use almost pure reverse-osmosis (RO) water to keep the hardness and pH down, and aim for a
temperature around 80°F ( 27°C). Captive-bred fish are more tolerant
of slightly harder water, but you still want somewhat acidic conditions.
As with many fish, breeding can be encouraged by providing an
abundance of small live foods and sticking to a strict maintenance
schedule. Parents generally don’t eat their offspring, but others of the
same species might, so keep only the parent pair with the eggs. One
particularly challenging aspect of breeding L. xiphidius is that they are
not particularly prolific. Don’t expect to get more than an egg or two a
day from a pair.