Care Guide for Hatchetfish – Oddball Schooling Fish with Wings
Most freshwater fish like to hang out in the lower two-thirds of the aquarium, so it can be hard to fill in the upper third with some activity. The hatchetfish. This nano-dwelling top-dwelling fish is unique in its appearance. They are even more striking when there is a large school of them swimming around below the water surface. We need to know that they require special care. Let’s have a closer look at this fascinating fish.
What are Hatchetfish?
The freshwater hatchetfish are part of the Gasteropelecidae Family and are distantly related with tetras. They are found in South and Central America. Their body is hatchet-shaped and their pectoral fins extend out like bird wings. Their strong pectoral muscles enable the hatchetfish to jump several inches out of the water, allowing them to quickly escape predators.
What are the various types of hatchetfish? Although many species are sold in local fish markets, availability can vary. They usually range from 1-2.5 inches (2.5-6 cm) long, so we have listed them roughly in order of smallest to biggest size.
– Pygmy hatchetfish Carnegiella myersi; – Blackwing hatchetfish Carnegiella Marthae; – Marbled hatchetfish Carnegiella strigata); – Silver hatchetfish Gasteropelecus Levis; – Common hatchetfish Gasteropelecus Sternicla); Spotted hatchetfish Thoracocharax. stellatus).
Marbled hatchetfish (Carnegiella strigata)
Although some species, like the common hatchetfish can be kept in tanks or cages, many hatchetfish must be caught wild. The hatchetfish may have been transported from the wholesaler to the store without proper nutrition, which can make them more vulnerable to diseases. Before you make a purchase, check with the fish store to see how long they’ve had them.
We strongly recommend that you always quarantine hatchetfish, feed them lots of high-quality foods, and proactively treat them with the trio of quarantine medications if possible. Hatchetfish are prone to ich or white spot disease, which is easily cured with Aquarium Solutions Ich-X. Additionally, wild-caught fish are more likely to have internal parasites like tapworms. Treat them with Fritz ParaCleanse first, then treat them again 2 weeks later to get rid of any worm eggs.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Hatchetfish
Because their habitat is subject to flooding and rainy seasons, Hatchetfish can survive in a variety of pH and GH levels. They are tropical animals that can survive in temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degC). They need to be surrounded by at least 6-12 other schooling fish of the same species in order to thrive as a schooling fish. The more fish in their school, the safer they feel and the more comfortable they are displaying their natural behaviors. For example, our CEO Cory McElroy once owned a group of 30 silver hatchetfish, and when they changed directions at the same time, he would see a bright flash of light as their scales reflected like little mirrors.
A school of hatchetfish in a blackwater aquarium
Hatchetfish are not super active, so you can keep them in a 20-gallon aquarium or larger. The tank should have a tight fitting lid or hood. They will jump out of any narrow slot they find. If you have any openings for the filter, heater, or automatic fish food feeder, make sure to cover them with craft mesh or another material.
What fish are compatible with hatchet fishes? Keep hatchetfish away from aggressive fish and fish that can eat them. They will also be unable to compete with them for food. They are most comfortable with tank mates of similar size and peace, such corydoras catsfish or tetras. South American dwarf cichlids, such as Apistogramma and German blue rams, are fine because they live in the lower half of the tank. Hatchetfish remain up there.
What are the Best Foods for Hatchetfish?
A major problem fishkeepers have when hatchetfish grow is the inability to properly feed them. They prefer to eat at the water’s surface and will not swim down to find sinking foods. In the wild, they use their small, upward-facing mouths to feed on insects and zooplankton. You should feed small foods that float well and reduce water flow to the surface to prevent food from sinking quickly. Good floating foods include high-quality flakes, floating pellets, freeze-dried foods, and live baby brine shrimp that tend to swim toward the aquarium light.
Platinum hatchetfish (Thoracocharax stellatus)
We hope you will try the incredible hatchetfish and enjoy its unusual appearance and behavior. For more ideas on other surface dwellers to try, check out our article on the 10 Best Top-Dwelling Fish for Your Aquarium.