Fundulopanchax scheeli was first described by Radda in 1970. They are part of the Nothobranchidae family which consists of 12 genera and 266 species. The name scheeli is a reference to Jorgen Jacob Scheel. The generic name Fundulopanchax can be broken up in two words: from the Latin fundulus: belonging to the ground and Panchax which is an indigenous name.
Synonyms: Aphyosemion burundi, Aphyosemion scheeli, Aphyosemion scheeli akamkpaense, Aphyosemion akamkpaense, Aphyosemion oeseri.
Fundulopanchax scheeli males can reach a maximum total length of about 6 centimeters, the females remain slightly smaller and can reach 5 centimeters. The difference between the sexes is best visible in their color. The females have a brownish ground color with a some red spots. Males have much more color. Their base color is light blue with red spots on top. Their pelvic- and anal fins have a yellow edge, this is missing on the dorsal fin. This yellow edge is also present on the outer edges at the top and bottom of the caudal fin.
The habitat of the Fundulopanchax scheeli is very similar to that of the Fundulopanchax gardneri, the difference between these two species lies mainly in the number of dorsal fin rays.
This is a hardy and peaceful species that usually ignores other fish. Males can show some intraspecific fights but this rarely results in injuries. This is also an excellent fish species for the novice killie enthusiast.
The lifespan of Fundulopanchax scheeli is about 1 to 2 years. Because they are relatively easy to breed, it is reasonably easy to maintain them in your aquarium from generation to generation. Perhaps you can keep a small breeding tank for the occasional spawn in order to preserve a stable group in your aquarium.
In the wild, Fundulopanchax inhabits small streams and pools in the South East of Nigeria on the edge of the savannah in the Cross River basin. It is not necessarily an annual killifish, the streams and pools do not always dry up. They also occur in the Ndian River basin in the Southwest of Cameroon.
Fundulopanchax scheelis diet should always contain live food. They are real carnivores that can be fed with small live food such as artemia, red and black mosquito larvae, fruit flies, Daphnia etc. Dry food such as flakes are also eaten but should not be used as main feed.
Because the species is somewhat shy, they are not fast eaters. Always take some time to see if the get enough to eat. It is better not to combine them with fast and greedy eaters to prevent Fundulopanchax scheeli from starving.
The aquarium does not have to be too big for Fundulopanchax scheeli. For a trio, 30 liters can suffice, which corresponds to about 45 x 30 x 30 centimeters. Always provide a lid on the aquarium as they can jump very well. Decorate the aquarium with preferably a dark bottom, this makes the colors stand out better. You can decorate the aquarium with drift wood and plants. They will certainly appreciate if part of the bottom consists of peat.
The aquarium may have some current but not too much. Filtering over peat ensures that the fish stay healthy and that any eggs are preserved.
Do not keep them together with other Aphyosemion or Fundulopanchax species as the females are very similar and hybridisation may occor.
Breeding Fundulopanchax scheeli
Breeding Fundulopanchax scheeli is fairly easy. They lay their eggs between fine-leaved plants but you can also use a breeding mop. These breeding mops can be placed both on the bottom and at the water surface. They lay their eggs between the leaves or strands of the breeding mop. Note: snails and shrimps sometimes eat the eggs! In the breeding tank a small sponge filter can be used in order to prevent the young fish from being sucked in the filter.
When the eggs incubate under water, they hatch after about 14 to 21 days. You can also incubate the eggs in moist peat. Water the eggs after about 3 to 4 weeks. The newly hatched Fundulopanchax scheeli eat micro organisms in the aquarium and can be fed directly with micro nematodes. After a few days you can start feeding them freshly hatched brine shrimp.
The fry grow fairly quickly and after 4 to 5 months they are ready to take care of their offspring.
John de Lange