Top 5 Dither Fish to help Shy Or Aggressive Fish

Top 5 Dither Fish to Help Shy or Aggressive Fish

If you have timid or territorial fish in your aquarium, try calming them down with dither fish. Dither fish have outgoing personalities, and they swim freely in the open. This confident behavior signals to shy fish that there is no immediate danger, and it is safe for them to come out of hiding. The presence of large numbers of ditherfish helps to diffuse and distract fish bullies from focusing on one fish. Learn more about the best dither fish that can change the dynamics of your fish tank and give you a more active community aquarium to enjoy.


1. Livebearers

Fish that live to be a living fish are those that are able to bear young. Most of the pets store types (e.g. platies, guppies and mollies), are very friendly and bright. They reproduce easily and their eggs will swim anywhere without fear. When skittish fish see these intrepid livebearer babies, they are even more likely to come out.

Two angelfish may be fighting for territory. To help break the tension, add some mollies, sabretails, or another larger livebearer. The livebearers are likely to move around the area and encroach upon their personal space. The angelfish are unable to contain all the dithering fish, so it is likely that they will stop trying to control them. The angelfish will eat livebearer fry if they are too close to their territory, but this keeps them from becoming overpopulated with babies.

Many livebearers have a carefree, easygoing temperament that can help semi-aggressive species like angelfish chill out.

2. Tetras, Rasboras

Both schools of schooling fish are famous for their torpedo-shaped, streamlined bodies. This makes them agile enough to escape any tank boss. Yes, some tetras and rasboras can be a little on the wary side themselves, especially since most of them are under 3 inches in size. They tend to be braver if you increase their school size, so make sure they have at least 6-12 fish from the same species.

You might choose a small schooling fish to help a shy nanofish feel more confident. On the other hand, if you hope to pacify a big and belligerent fish, go with a larger schooling fish that won’t get eaten. These suggestions are categorized according to size depending on your needs:

Rummy nose Tetras are especially known for being very close-knit schooling fish that swim in a tight group and then change direction like a huge herd. This behavior is known to confuse predators, as it makes it more difficult for them to catch a single fish in a group of doppelgangers.

There’s nothing quite like watching a large group of rummy nose tetras swimming in perfect synchronization.

3. Corydoras

While tetras and rasboras often swim in the middle level of the aquarium, cory catfish stay down low near the floor, constantly scavenging for food out in the open. They are great for other bottom dwellers, such as Apistogramma and the kribensis Cichlids. Corydoras are great clean-up crew members that do well in a group of 6 or more of their own species, and there are many kinds to choose from. Brochis catfish, which are larger than blood parrots and can swallow smaller corys well, is a good choice for you. In fact, you can keep livebearers, tetras, and corys all together in a community tank that is filled with lively dither fish.

Albino are the most social catfish you’ll find. They love frozen bloodworms, freeze dried tubifex worms, sinking pellets, and freeze-dried tubifex.

4. Danios, Rainbowfish

Sometimes medium- to large-sized predators like Jack Dempsey and oscar cichlids can be uncharacteristically shy and prone to hiding. These cases call for larger, faster schooling fish such giant danios or hill trouts (Devario.aequipinnatus). They are more likely to escape their jaws. These ditherfish are known for their ability to actively dart around at a million mph and break into other’s territory. Rainbowfish are a confident, colorful and calm schooling species that can calmly swim about and help calm other more anxious species.

Hill trout have a speedy swimming ability and can travel in fast-flowing rivers. They are best when paired with faster fish, as they may become outcompeted during meals.

5. Pencilfish and Hatchetfish

What if you have shy fish you want spawn but don’t want the dithering fish to eat their babies. Look out for fish that live at the top of the aquarium, such as hatchetfish or pencilfish. These surface dwellers mostly swim in the upper third of the aquarium and have tiny, upward facing mouths that prefer eating floating foods from above. This is great for Apistogramma dwarf cecichlids (rams) who guard their babies in the sub-basin. Pencilfish and hatchetfish are not likely to come down to feed, and they won’t eat fry unless the fish accidentally swim up on top. When you feed the aquarium, the skittish fish will see the dither fish rushing to grab a bite, so then they will feel more comfortable coming out to feed as well.

Nannostomus is a species of Nannostomus that are known to swim close to the surface at a 45 degree angle.

Dither fish can bring out the best behavior in your aquarium by coaxing fish out of hiding, putting the tank bosses at ease, and increasing the activity level overall. Visit our Edmunds, Washington retail store or browse our favorite online fish sellers if you’re looking for fun fish.