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Fish Crazy
Jul 3, 2004
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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Hi characin fans,

I'm interested in getting a hatchet fish for my community tank, but bare with me, I have little to no knowledge about them.

I read they were gregarious, if I buy one, would I have to get more than one so that they'd school, or is one enough?

Max. size I've read is about 4 cm, does that sound about right?

Are they appropriate for a community tank, or would they be too aggresive? I read they could be either aggressive or docile, does it depend on the individual?

Any other information (special diet, incompatible tank mates, etc.) would also be very much appreciated. Thanks a lot!
Here's what you need to know:
  • size depends on species
  • they spend virutally all their time at the surface
  • peaceful (won't hurt even the smallest tank-mates)
  • Most appreciate a fast-flow current tank
  • Most appreciate shade from floating plants
  • You need a hood, they can jump several feet in distance
  • They will only eat floating food. Live worms and brine shrimp will not really work. Unfortunately, hatchets prefer live foods. Best option is insects, like small crickets from the pet shop. Freeze-dried blood worms are also great. They will accept flakes.
Alright, thanks, that answers my question. I don't have the capability to house a school of them, so I'd better not get any.

I'd heard about their leaping ability, which is one of the reasons I was so interested in them. I think that's why they've developed such a large chest, because the pectoral muscles needed to propel them so high out of the water are pretty big, I'm sure.

For future reference, what's the minimum, and what's the ideal size of a school for hatchetfish?

Thanks again,
6 is preferred, can be happy in 3's. The most common species are marbled, which are about 4 cm, while the silver hatchet may get up to 6-7 cm.
Thank you, Ryan and tear-scar. The particular species was indeed a marbled hatchet, but I'll be waiting a while before I get any. They are a very nice fish, though, so I'm hoping to get some as soon as my tank's got room, or when I get a new one. Whichever comes first.

Thanks again,
I got a school of three hatchetfish for my new 38 gallon tank and, I tell ya, they're freakin' wonderful. Thanks for the help, folks!
did you end up getting the silver or the marbled? theyre great fish, make a nice addition to a tank. i think they may be my favorites in my larger tank. i love them because theyre "something different". enjoy your hatchets, and hopefully you'll up that to 6 of them, give them a proper school. i find mine, i have 5 now (one jumped), tend to group all together, then split into a group of two and group of three now and again. they do love fast current, its fun to watch them just hover in the stream from my filter :D
I ended up getting some marbled hatchetfish. They are pretty small, and if they're the max size they can be (about 3-4 cm), then I might just get some more to fill out the school.

I don't have a really fast current, but it can get pretty strong under the HoB filter. I've also got a little bit of plant material that can act as shade if they want it, but they've been pretty much out in the open so far.

What kind do you have, MAM? Also, what do you feed them? I'm pretty sure my livebearers would eat any freeze-dried stuff I put in there before the hatchets would even get the chance. We'll see, though, I'll try some different foods. Right now, they've only had flake.
i have the marbled kind. they can hold their own. i've never had problems with them not getting food (mine are pretty bold, they'll push the molly out of the way sometimes even :lol: ). mine eat mostly flake, but when i put in various frozen foods (bloodworm, brine shrimp, etc) they'll eat that too. they don't seem too picky.

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