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Epiplatys fasciolatus (GÜNTHER, 1866)

Banded Epiplatys

SynonymsTop ↑

Haplochilus fasciolatus Günther, 1866; Epiplatys dorsalis Mayer, 1936; Epiplatys sexfasciatus leonensis Ahl, 1937; Epiplatys matlocki Fowler, 1950; Epiplatys zimiensis Berkenkamp, 1977; Epiplatys fasciolatus huwaldi Berkenkamp & Etzel, 1978; Epiplatys fasciolatus tototaensis Romand, 1978


Epiplatys: from the Greek epi, meaning ‘above, on top of’, and platys, meaning ‘flat, broad’, in reference to the flat dorsal surface of the anterior half of the body in members of this genus.

fasciolatus: a diminutive of the Latin fascia, meaning ‘band’.


Order: Cyprinodontiformes Family: Nothobranchiidae


Native to northwestern Africa with a range extending southwards from Guinea-Bissau through coastal parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone as far as western Liberia, around the city of Monrovia.

Type locality was originally given as ‘Sierra Leone’ and ‘Upper Nile’ but this was later changed to ‘Freetown, 8°30’N, 13°15’W, Sierra Leon’, referring to the capital of Sierra Leone.

When a population is known aquarists also tend to label the fish as such in order to avoid hybridisation and preserve bloodlines, e.g., Adonkia, Bo, Conakry, Freetown, Robertsport, etc.


This species mostly inhabits freshwater swamps and minor tributary streams but habitats vary considerably with some populations inhabiting grassy savannah and others rainforest.

Sympatric fish species include the congener E. njalaensis and Scriptaphyosemion roloffi.

Maximum Standard Length

70 – 80 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Minimum base dimensions of 80 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent are recommended although smaller aquaria can be used for breeding purposes.


Perhaps looks best in a heavily-planted set-up or natural-style arrangement comprising a sandy substrate plus some driftwood roots and branches.

The addition of dried leaf litter would further emphasise the natural feel and as well as offering additional cover for the fish brings with it the growth of microbe colonies as decomposition occurs.

These can provide a valuable secondary food source for fry and the humic substances released by the decaying leaves are also considered beneficial, with alder cones also useful in this respect.

There’s no need to use natural peat, the collection of which is both unsustainable and environmentally-destructive.

This species seems to do best under fairly dim lighting but you can add aquatic plant species that can survive under such conditions such as MicrosorumTaxiphyllum or Anubias spp., while floating vegetation, such as Ceratopteris spp., is also appreciated.

Water Conditions

Temperature20 – 27 °C

pH5.0 – 7.0

Hardness18 – 215 ppm


Probably a predator feeding on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and other zooplankton in nature.

In the aquarium it will accept dried foods of a suitable size but should also be offered daily meals of small live and frozen fare such as Artemia nauplii, Daphnia, Moina, grindal worm, etc.

Small insects such as crickets or Drosophila fruit flies are also suitable to use although it’s best to fill the stomachs of these by feeding them fish flakes or some kind of vegetable matter before offering them to the fish.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males are more colourful, possess more-extended fins and grow larger than females.

NotesTop ↑

Following the key of Romand (1992) this species can be told apart from congeners by the following combination of characters: thin, dark, transverse bars sometimes visible on flanks; body and fins in male with metallic blue or green pigmentation ; anal and lower part of the caudal fins with a red submarginal band and narrow border; 15-18 anal-fin rays; 11-14 dorsal-fin rays; 8-11 anal-fin rays located anterior to dorsal-fin origin.

Epiplatys is the most widely-distributed genus of West African aplocheiloid killifish with a range overlapping that of the other genera native to the region which are more restricted and split into eastern and western groups based on their respective patterns of distribution.

For example, Callopanchax is restricted to coastal lowlands of far Western Africa with Scriptaphyosemion and Archiaphyosemion known only from the interior of the Western rainforest, whereas Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax present more easterly ranges extending south and eastward from Nigeria.

Although previously considered closely-related to the genus Aplocheilus due to shared similarities such as possessing an upturned mouth and dwelling mostly near the water surface Epiplatys is in fact affiliated with the western group above, i.e., its closest relatives are Callopanchax, Scriptaphyosemion and Archiaphyosemion.

In addition the phylogenetic analysis of Collier et al. (2009) revealed the existence of two distinct clades within Epiplatys itself, one comprising those species restricted to the Western rainforest (the western/savanna clade) and other those inhabiting lowland (coastal) swamps and streams west of the Dahomey Gap.

Most members of the coastal clade have a colour pattern consisting of broad, dark vertical bars which are present in juveniles of those species which lack them as adults, plus many populations possess an asymmetric caudal-fin shape with an extended lower lobe, whereas western clade species tend to lack or only possess thin oblique dark bars on the body and have symmetrically-shaped caudal fins.


  1. Günther, A., 1866 - Catalogue of fishes in the British Museum v. 6: i-xv + 1-368
    Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum.
  2. Collier, G. E., W. J. Murphy and M. Espinoza, 2009 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 50(1): 190-196
    Phylogeography of the genus Epiplatys (Aplocheiloidea: Cyprinodontiformes).
  3. Hertwig, S. T., 2008 - Zoologica Scripta 37(2): 141-174
    Phylogeny of the Cyprinodontiformes (Teleostei, Atherinomorpha): the contribution of cranial soft tissue characters.
  4. Romand, R. Cyprinodontidae. In: Lévêque, C., D. Paugy and G. G. Teugels (eds) , 1992 - Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgique and O.R.S.T.O.M., Paris, France: 389-902
    Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres de l'Afrique de l'Ouest Tome 2. Collection Fauna Tropicale no. XXVIII.
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