Korthaus’ killifish (Nothobranchius korthausae)

Korthaus' killifish
Loading more images and videos...

Korthaus’ killifish fact file

Korthaus’ killifish description

GenusNothobranchius (1)

Korthaus’ killifish is a small, striking fish of which there are two colour varieties: a yellow variety and a red variety (3). Individuals of the yellow variety are a metallic yellowy-brown with brown-black stripes on the larger fins and have golden coloured eyes (4). The red variety, discovered more recently, is a deep red with fainter stripes. In both varieties the male tends to be the brightest of the sexes and possesses larger fins (3)

Total length: 5 cm (2)

Korthaus’ killifish biology

Like other members of the genus Nothobranchius, Korthaus’ killifish is referred to as an ‘annual killifish’, indicating that it has a short life span of usually one year or less. This is due to the fact that the water bodies this species lives in typically do not last very long, so it completes its life cycle quickly, before the habitat disappears (4).

Korthaus’ killifish lays its eggs at the bottom of a temporary pool before the dry season commences. With the arrival of the dry season and the desiccation of the pool, the adult killifish dies, leaving the eggs to continue the survival of the population. Embedded in the muddy soil (5), the eggs are able to withstand these dry conditions for one to three months (2) (5), until the rains fall once again, the eggs hatch and the larvae grow quickly to sexual maturity (5)


Korthaus’ killifish range

Korthaus’ killifish is endemic to Mafia Island in eastern Tanzania (2), although it exists all over the world in domestic aquaria (4).


Korthaus’ killifish habitat

Korthaus’ killifish inhabits pools and ditches near marshland. Although the island of Mafia does not have a river it does have enough rainfall and groundwater to maintain the pools all year round. Due to the groundwater origin of these pools, they are often rather salty (3).


Korthaus’ killifish status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Korthaus’ killifish threats

This fish is threatened in the wild due to its limited distribution, which makes it highly susceptible to any habitat destruction or degradation (1).


Korthaus’ killifish conservation

There are currently no specific conservation efforts known to be in place for this species (1). However, Korthaus’ killifish is popular in aquariums due to its attractive colouration (3), which could act to safeguard its future, should a catastrophe befall its natural habitat. 

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. FishBase (March, 2010)
  3. Bellemans, M. (2000) Nothobranchius korthausae. Nothobranchius Information Centre. Available at:
  4. Genade,  T., Benedetti, M., Terzibazi, E., Roncaglia, P., Valenzano, D.R., Cattaneo, A. and Callerino, A. (2005) Annual fishes of the genus Nothobranchius as a model system for aging research. Aging Cell, 4(5): 223-233.
  5. Levels, P.J., Van Tits, L.J.H. and Denucé, J.M. (1986) The effect of the presence of adult fishes, gonad homogenates, and embryo homogenates onthe dispersion-reaggregation phase during early embryonic development of the annual fish Nothobranchius korthausae. The Journal of Experimental Zoology, 240: 259-264.

Image credit

Korthaus' killifish  
Korthaus' killifish

© WILDLIFE/F.Teigler / StillPictures.com

Still Pictures Ltd.
1 Glen Cottages
Sandy Lane
Abbots Leigh
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1275 375 520
Fax: +44 (0) 705 061 3938


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Korthaus’ killifish (Nothobranchius korthausae) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top