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Common hatchetfish (gasteropelecus sternicla): Origin & care

  1. Origin
  2. Diet
  3. Habitat  
  4. Coloration & Size
  5. Care
  6. Tank size
  7. Feeding
  8. Breeding
Common hatchetfish
Common hatchetfish

Common hatchetfish origin

The common freshwater hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus sternicla) is a species of tropical characin found in the rivers and tributaries of South America. Although most commonly seen as an aquarium fish, this fish actually has a rather unique origin. Its name comes from its unique shape which resembles a hatchet or axe.

The hatchetfish lives in shallow sluggish rivers, pools and lagoon mouths with heavily-vegetated bottoms where it feeds on small insects, crustaceans and larvae that are close to the water’s surface. It has adapted to suit its environment by developing large transparent fin membranes along its sides that camouflage it against predators while also allowing it to be visible in light currents.

Common hatchetfish diet

Native to South American waterways, these fish have triangular-shaped bodies that allow them to easily blend into their surroundings as they look for food. The common hatchetfish diet largely consists of smaller insect larvae, mollusks, crustaceans and even some small fish. Hatchetfish typically hunt by slowly drifting close enough to their prey that they can quickly snatch it up using their thin bottom lip, which acts like a scoop net.

Common hatchetfish habitat

Common hatchetfish habitat typically consists warm, heavily vegetated waters such as rivers and streams in Central and South America and Africa. They usually inhabit areas where there is plenty of food and cover from predators, such as logs, rocks, sunken branches, tree stumps and other types of debris found in slow moving rivers with soft bottoms. Hatchetfishes will also form small schools when looking for food or protection from larger predatory fish. While these fish prefer warm waters, they can still be found in cooler climates when some other factors – like an abundance of vegetation or baitfish – are present.

Common hatchetfish coloration & size

Hatchetfish complex colorations can range from reddish brown to yellowish green, with silvery colored sides, black stripes or spots, and bright blue spots that run down along their spines. Different species feature different colors and patterns, but usually they have a long, hatchet-like body shape that resembles a flattened triangle. Typically, these fish range in size from around 2 to 4 inches when fully mature.

Common hatchetfish care  

Keep your hatchetfish healthy by providing suitable housing, nutritious food, and good water conditions is essential for their long-term well-being. For example, pet owners should ensure that their tank is at least 20 gallons in size for every four hatchetfish to give them sufficient room to swim around. Hatchetfish typically have a carnivorous diet consisting of small live or frozen foods such as bloodworms and daphnia. Lastly, it’s important to maintain good water parameters such as pH levels around 7.0 and the temperature between 22°C and 25°C in order to keep your hatchetfish happy and healthy.

Common hatchetfish tank size

Hatchetfish need a good amount of space and should not be kept in tanks smaller than 20-30 gallons. This size gives them enough room to swim without putting too much stress on the fish or crowding the tank. Furthermore, a larger tank allows for strong current and plenty of plants, as these things will both stimulate the hatchetfish. If you’ve been considering adding some hatchetfish to your aquarium, make sure your tank is big enough to give them the space they need for a long and healthy life.

Common hatchetfish feeding in captivity

A properly balanced diet for a hatchetfish will comprise both live and frozen foods, including insect larvae, brine shrimp and blood worms. It is also important not to overcrowd its tank as these creatures enjoy open spaces to move around in comfortably. By providing adequate hiding places with fallen branches and plants it will help them to feel safe while they feed. A proper setup along with the right diet can create an ideal environment which will enable your hatchetfish to thrive in captivity.

Common hatchetfish breeding

Common hatchetshfish breeding is an interesting process to observe; the female will take her eggs, place them on the underside of a floating plant leaf, then seal them with her saliva. This helps to keep microscopic predators out and oxygen in. After about ten days of incubation, small baby fry hatch. The fry start out as almost transparent with a small tan line along their backs that darken after their first week. The parents will not feed their babies, they instead face the danger of being eaten by other fish and insects but usually develop quickly due to their rapid growth rate.

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