Optogenetic tools enable the causal examination of how specific cell types contribute to brain circuit functions. A long-standing question is whether it is possible to independently activate two distinct neural populations in mammalian brain tissue. Such a capability would enable the examination of how different synapses or pathways interact to support computation. Here we report two new channelrhodopsins, Chronos and Chrimson, obtained through the de novo sequencing and physiological characterization of opsins from over 100 species of algae. Chrimson is 45 nm red-shifted relative to any previous channelrhodopsin, important for scenarios where red light would be preferred; we show minimal visual system mediated behavioral artifact in optogenetically stimulated Drosophila. Chronos has faster kinetics than any previous channelrhodopsin, yet is effectively more light-sensitive. Together, these two reagents enable crosstalk-free two-color activation of neural spiking and downstream synaptic transmission in independent neural populations in mouse brain slice.