American Flagfish Complete Care and Breeding Guide

One of the reasons why some people are eager to keep fishes in a tank is that they like the soothing scene of swimming fish. What makes it better is colorful fishes swimming around the plants like the American flagfish.

A Quick Background on the American Flagfish

The American flagfish, also known as Cyprindon floridae, is a kind of Killifish that is known for being an algae eater. This fish is native to Florida, which makes it have another popular name – Florida flagfish.

As the name suggests, the pattern of the fish will remind you of the American flag. It features bright horizontal stripes of red and luminescent green stretching across the entire body.

The iridescent scales sparkle like the stars on Star-Spangled Banner. This is the most captivating scene that many hobbyists have been longing for.

Apparently, the beautiful pattern is not the only reason why many people are dying for keeping this fish in their tank. The existence of this fish allows aquarists to keep the algae in check, making the water stay clean for a longer period.

Another reason why the flagfish is highly sought after is that it is hardy. It can easily adapt to various water conditions and be mixed with many kinds of fish. However, its natural habitat is in swamps, lakes, and slow-moving or still bodies of water.

The lifespan of an American flagfish is around two or three years. If you can take care of it pretty well, it can live longer for up to five years. A few aquarists even claim that their flagfish can live up to eight years. It is uncommon, though.

Some people say that this flagfish shows their parental care to their eggs and young while others experience the opposite things related to breeding these fish. These fish tend to scatter their eggs.

What Does an Ideal Home for an American Flagfish Look Like?

Ideal Home for an American Flagfish

Just like much other small fish, American flagfish love hiding. Therefore, round out your tank with driftwood, rocks, plants, and any other element that could bring in natural vibes to it.

Do not go overboard, though. These fish like swimming in wide-open space like lakes and swamps. Here are the requirements for this flagfish to thrive well in captivity.

  • Tank Size: 10-gallon tank or more
  • Maximum Size: Approximately 2.5 inches
  • Water Conditions: 6.5 – 8.5 pH
  • Water Temperature: 64-85 °F

Bringing Out Its Best Colors

The key to bringing out the best colors of an American flagfish is by working on contrasting elements.

Dark substrates can help to bring out the colors of these fish because they make brighter colors like red, blue, or yellow stand out immensely. However, black substrates can be a big no for darker tank mates like black mollies.

For this reason, you can try opting for dark brown substrates that contrast with the pattern of American flagfish while keeping the darker tank mates look amazing.

Choosing the right background for the tank is also crucial. A dark blue background will be your top-notch choice as it will not only help to make the colors stand out but also create the illusion of a spacious tank.

The last, but not least, LED light installed near the tank will greatly enhance the look of it. The shimmering effect made by the light will reflect the movement of the water from the aerators and scales of the flagfish.

Picking the Right Community for the American Flagfish

American Flagfish Tank Mates

American flagfish are quite easy to keep. A pair of flagfish can live comfortably in a 10-gallon planted tank. These fish are rather territorial and thus they can be relatively aggressive.

Although the flagfish are quite territorial, they can live happily in a community tank with some other fishes as long as you can provide a haven for them. The first thing you need to prepare is a bigger tank. It has to be at least 20 gallons.

When it comes to dwelling in a community tank, the flagfish shows various kinds of results. They can be too energetic somehow. You can tell by seeing them nipping their fins of slower fish, such as guppies or bettas.

Keeping this flagfish with the ones that can keep up with their speed like danios or tetra will be your greatest bet.

If you want to have some placid or slow-moving fish along with your flagfish in the same tank, you can try working on an aquascape that can break the line-of-sight of the flagfish.

Choosing the best tank mates for your flagfish will also depend on your goal. If you love seeing dazzling iridescence in the water, keeping flagfish along with glowlight or neon tetra would be the best decision.

Next, if you choose the ones with nice schooling behavior, you should give rummy nose tetras a shot since they tend to stick together. Furthermore, you can know the current conditions of your tank by checking their redness.

Equipment and Feeding

American flagfish are not fussy. They do not need special equipment to thrive well. Since their natural habitat is in slow-moving rivers, you need to consider installing a filtration system that produces a gentle stream instead of a turbulent rush.

You may also need to install sponge filters because they enable you to have more waste-consuming beneficial bacteria in your tank. These sponge filters will not cause any harm to the fry.

You do not need to worry about feeding your flagfish seriously. Fish like flagfish feed on almost anything found in the tank.

They even eat nasty hair algae growing on the rocks and glass. They also feed on insects that accidentally fall into the tank. They like munching on lots of algae. Thus, you need to consider giving them a supplement with algae wafers.


The American flagfish will give you lots of advantages. If you are looking for some assistance in reducing the number of algae in your tank, this fish will be your new best friend.

As a bonus, the American flagfish can provide more spectacular drama in your tank due to the sparkling pattern and scales.

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