Annual killifishes are small, colorful aquarium fishes that live in small pools in Africa and South America. During the dry season, their ponds dry out and all of the adults die. However, these “fish out of water” can survive as dormant embryos inside eggs laid in the soil. Their unique life cycle and hardiness makes them great educational tools that are easily kept at home or in the classroom. Killifish require very little infrastructure and maintenance (no heaters/filters). We are developing a “Killi-Kit” designed to help families and students learn about developmental biology, genetics, and evolution. Dormant killifish eggs are easily transportable and viable for months after fertilization, making them a unique way to engage young students in exploration of scientific methods.
A Killi-Kit (below) will include dormant eggs killifish, a small tank (A), food (B. brine shrimp), a clip-on microscope (C) connecting to a smartphone for photo/video recording, small plastic containers (D) to hold killifish eggs, paint brushes (E) to pick up and clean killifish eggs, and instructional online resources. Brine shrimp eggs represent an invertebrate dormancy example for comparison. Everyone can easily observe the different developmental stages with the smartphone microscope. Eggs from all organisms can be hatched just by adding water. Overall, we hope our outreach program offers people a chance to explore the natural world in a way they may not have access to in their daily lives.
Killi-Kit Information Pamphlet
Killi-Kit Step-by-Step Guide