Pronothobranchius kiyawensis (Ahl 1928)


Meaning of Name

Pro refers to the latin before. Nothobranchius is an east African genera. When an 'ensis' is placed on a sp. naming it generally refers to a point of origin. In this case the Kiyawe River in northern Nigeria.

First Description

Ahl E. 1928b.

Description of Two New Cyprinodont Fishes from Nigeria.

Ann & Mag. Nat. Hist. 10 (2): p600 - 602.


Males 40·5mm SL. Females have been recorded larger than males at 47·1mm SL.


D = 13-16, A = 15-17, ll = 27-29 + 3-4.


Males n=17, females n=2





  • Fundulosoma kiyawensis (Ahl 1928)
  • Fundulus gambiensis (Svensson 1934)
  • Pronothobranchius gambiensis (Svensson 1934)
  • Aphyosemion BKA U1
  • Aphyosemion seymouri (Loiselle & Blair 1971)
  • Aphyosemion seymouri aus Ghana. (After a collection by Fröhlich 1979)
  • Nothobranchius gambiensis (Svensson 1934)
  • Pronothobranchius kiyawensis (Ahl 1928)
  • Katagoum (Northern Nigeria)
  • Kondoulou (Chad)
  • Maidougouri (Chad)
  • Ndjamena (50km south of-Chad)
  • Sangba (Chari Drainage-Central African Republic)
  • GH 06 / 5




Type Locality

The Kiyawe River in Northern Nigeria.


Most easterly distribution of Pronothobranchius from Lake Chad to northern Nigeria.
Known to inhabit the river area of the Kiyawa to the north of Katagum, northern Nigeria, & the area of the upper Gambia River.
This is a rather extensive distribution area.
Reports have suggested that material is deposited in the American Natural History Museum being collected in the Central African Republic.


The type locality is situated on the Accra Plains. This was a very small pool in a swampy area close to one of many intermittent streams. These flow into small coastal lagoons. During the dry season these are reduced to small isolated pools with the surrounding marsh area dried out.
This area has 2 rainy seasons each year. A long period of rains from mid-March to mid-July & a shorter period between September to November.


In 1970 the locality was a pool 100 metres long, 4 metres deep & 1·5 - 10 cm deep, densely overgrown with Nymphaea (lilies) at it's deep end & emergent grasses at it's shallow end. The base was loose clay 4 cm thick over a compacted sub surface. The water was an opaque grey/green.
No data was recorded in this pool but another pool 2 km away was recorded as pH 6·8, DH 1, surface temperature 26°C, bottom temperature 24·5°C. These readings were taken on a cool morning & probably below average in the 2nd half of the rainy season which was exceptionally dry with about half a metre at the deepest part.
At 14.30 hrs the temperature was a uniform 28·3°C in 8 cm of water.
Caught in rain water swamps not influenced by the main river. They were found with Procatopus species only. Temperature ranged from 24·5 - 31°C. Johnels reported that this species reproduced as an annual in isolated swamps which dry up during the dry season.

Distinguishing Characteristics A west African Nothobranchius look-alike. Pugnacious, aggressive head. Unpaired fins have a red outer margin with a blue submarginal band followed by a yellow band inside this. Few spots on sides.
Photographs are rare of other populations to offer any comparison between them. I hope to load any new material as I receive it. The above pattern may not hold as a constant reference with regard to future material.
Colour/Pattern Variability Unknown due to insufficient material from which to study.
With recent (2001) imports from an unknown source which were quite colourful I still would not like to say how variable this sp. is.

Ahl described the species in 1928 from one male & one female collected in the Kiyawa River by Lt. Lloyd near Katagum, northern Nigeria. This location is found some 125 miles east of Kano.
Collected by Lloyd in 1930 on the Bergoz Road near to Koundoul.
Collected 18th October 1956 by Blache et al Fort Foureau, Chad & Maidougouri 25km from Fort Foureau.
In 1969 Radda made a very vague description proposing a sub-genus of Pronothobranchius of the genus Nothobranchius & placed within it Pro.kiyawensis & the later synonymised N.gambiensis.
In 1974 Scheel placed this sp. in Nothobranchius in the sub-genus Fundulosoma. In the years following Fundulosoma was regarded as a full genus however with one representative - thierryi.
Rob Odijk collected this sp. at the end of May 1982 at several locations between Accra & Ada, lying on the right bank of the Volta River. (See DATZ July, 1983, pp.252-257).
Collected by A.Antoine in 1988 in a small stream at Mandjekene, Chari River, Lake Chad drainage.
The sp. was imported into Germany in 2001 & found there way to the UK shortly after.
There seems to have been a great hole in imports of this sp. from the wild. The next import I could find information on was in 1998/1999 where a German killie keeper had them.

Breeding Notes

The first breeding report for this sp. appeared in BKA newsletter No.49, September 1969. They were reportedly spawned on a layer of submerged peat. They were not seen to bury their eggs. Water used for breeding was pH 6·6, 'trace hardness', temperature 68-73°F.
Another report in newsletter No.51, November 1969 regarded hatching eggs. The breeder noticed one fry eyed up & trying to get out of the egg after 37 days of incubation. He wet the peat & the fry, measuring three eigths of an inch emerged. Four other fry emerged with a further one trapped by the head in the shell. All fry lay at the base of the tank & ignored brine shrimp. Despite their size all fry were lost within 48 hours.

In newsletter No.52, December 1969 a further report on breeding observations appeared. Scheel reported using water incubation successfully & hatched out a small number of fry after 6 weeks of incubation.
Another breeder reported using dry incubation varying from 9 weeks to 6 months.
Another breeder reported the fry 'small enough to require infusorians & stated that even after 5 months many eggs failed to hatch. The concensus of opinion seemed to favour between 9-12 weeks of dry incubation. Breeders reported finding eggs just below the surface of the peat but the majority were well buried.

Roloff gave an account in TFH January 1974 where he reported receiving a shipment from Blair in 1970. All fish were sick with bloody boils on the flanks apart from one pair which were healthier. This pair was selected as brood stock but all others died.
40 eggs were laid in a 2 week period before both fish died.. Eggs were kept in water at 75°F. Six fry hatched which were all belly sliders. No data is recorded as to what age in water they hatched at.
Breeding data : water temperature 73 - 78°F, pH 6·5 - 7·5, DH 8. Eggs maintained at 75°F.
Despite every effort these sliders only grew to 1" in the biggest case with most being considerably smaller.
At 3 & a half months the fish were set up in a breeding tank with 2" of water over a peat base. Three such spawnings resulted in 20 fry which were healthy & grew to the size of the original import. There were only 3 females in this brood stock.
Pairs were put into seperate breeding tanks at 4 months of age & kept together for 1-2 days before being seperated. This was repeated on a weekly cycle.
Peat was dried for 4 weeks & fry removed with an eyedropper. After 1 day the peat was redried & rewetted in 1 week intervals.
21 spawnings were recorded which produced few fry (12) in an interval of 4-9 weeks. In 3 cases only 1-2 fry hatched at 11 weeks.
This 4 week incubation was considered unsuccessful & a future experiment of 6-7 weeks proved the most successful.
None of these fish exceeded 7 months of age.
On a trip to Liberia all his stock was distributed to experienced killie keepers but after 6 months none survived.

Walter Kessel gave a breeding account in JAKA Vol.9 No.12 reprinted from a DKG journal where he used a peat based tank, water temperature 72-74°F, pH 6·4 - 7, GH 5 - 15. He found that 90% of eggs were infertile. Eggs were taken out after 3 days of laying but this had no effect in getting better eggs.

Roloff suggested a dry incubation period of 6-7 weeks whilst Morgner tried 8-10 weeks & hatched 28 fry, 18 of which were belly sliders. The peat was rewet after 10 days which yielded a further 5 fry, 3 of which were belly sliders. These could not be raised. The peat was redried to a total dry incubation period of 6 months but all eggs turned white with no noticeable development.
One breeder we know has kept eggs in dry storage for 30+ years & has hatched good fry in small batches.

Hans van Es reported variable hatching dates from 3 - 7 months. Generally eggs should be inspected regularly as hatchings can occur from 4 weeks to 2 years+.

Diameter of Egg  

Hans van Es in BKA Newsletter No.330, March 1993 commented that they are a shy fish & will die if kept with other sp. Also shock is easily induced by outside tank movement or the addition of a net to the tank. Fish will 'play dead' & recover within an hour.
It was reported that young fish are better to transport to other breeders.

Reference sources:

http://www.killi.co.uk/SpeciesDetails.php?ID=462 2 photos of interest.
JAKA Vol.8 No.1. Winter 1971-72
JAKA Vol.9 No.12. December 1976
TFH. January 1974