Skip to Content

Hatchetfish Care (101 Guide for Beginners)

Hatchetfish Care (101 Guide for Beginners)

Share this post:

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hatchetfish are very interesting and many people think of these fish as great options for community tanks. You might be looking into getting some soon.

As always, it’s best to learn about new fish that you want to purchase. Each fish has unique care needs that must be met so they can thrive in your tank.

Are hatchetfish generally easy to care for? Or are they going to be challenging fish for beginners to own?

Keep reading to learn all of the basics about hatchetfish care. This information should make it simple to decide if buying hatchetfish will be a good decision for you.

Are Hatchetfish Easy to Care For?

You’ll find that hatchetfish aren’t overly difficult to care for. However, they’re not the easiest fish to own either.

They’re easy enough that most beginners won’t have a hard time with them. They fall under the “moderate” category in terms of care difficulty.

These fish can do great in your aquarium if you’re ready to take care of the basics. You need to make sure that they have the right water conditions and that everything is set up well for them.

Below, you’ll learn about many different topics that will help you to care for hatchetfish properly. This should make it clear what you’ll need to do to get good results when taking care of these fish.

The Ideal Temperature Range

One important thing to get right when caring for hatchetfish is the temperature. You must ensure that these fish are kept in water that has an acceptable temperature range.

Hatchetfish do best when kept in water with temperatures that range from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. So make sure that you monitor the water temperature.

The Ideal pH Balance and Water Hardness

The pH balance of the water is another crucial part of keeping the water safe for these fish. Hatchetfish need the pH balance of the water to stay between 6.0 and 6.8

There are some hatchetfish that do fine in pH balance levels of 7.0 and even up to 7.2. It just depends on whether the fish has acclimated to such conditions or not.

For safety purposes, it’s best to stick to keeping the balance between 6.0 and 6.8. You should also monitor the hardness of the water.

The water hardness must be between 2 and 14 dGH. So long as you’re testing the water regularly it should be simple to keep things where they need to be.

You should test the water using pH balance testing kits. Be sure to check the water often enough so you can make changes if the parameters are a bit off.

Do Hatchetfish Need a Filter?

You will certainly need to use a filter when caring for these fish. Hatchetfish don’t do well when the water quality is poor.

A high-quality filter will help you to keep the water clean. It helps a lot and makes it much easier to keep up with tank maintenance.

One thing to note is that hatchetfish are known to jump out of fish tanks. So it’s likely best to buy a filter that hangs on the back of the tank.

You want to have a lid, or at least a mesh cover, covering the tank. Keep this in mind and it shouldn’t be hard to get the right filter that will help to keep your fish in good shape.

Do They Need a Heater?

It’s certainly important to have a heater in the fish tank as well. Being that these fish need the water to remain above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s prudent to use a heater.

Also, it’s worth noting that most fish will become stressed when exposed to temperature fluctuations. Heaters do a good job of keeping the water temperature steady.

You won’t have to worry so much about the fish being put in a tough spot. A good heater will keep the water temperature right where it needs to be at all times.

Do your best to keep the water temperature in the right range. This makes it far easier to maintain healthy hatchetfish.

Do They Need Special Lighting?

No, you don’t need to purchase special lighting for your hatchetfish. These fish are interesting because they’re capable of creating their own light through a process known as bioluminescence.

So they can live in deep waters and create their own light to see. This isn’t too relevant in a fish tank setting, but it’s still interesting to know.

Common hatchetfish will be just fine with standard aquarium lighting. You don’t need to use special lights for these fish.

Just use standard lighting that will be fine for whatever plants you want to put in the tank. The hatchetfish will be just fine with normal aquarium lights.

Do Hatchetfish Live in Groups?

Yes, hatchetfish are meant to live in groups. You want to make sure that these fish are kept in appropriately-sized groups or they won’t do well in your tank.

Hatchetfish are shoaling fish that live in groups in the wild. When you put these fish in aquariums they’re still going to want to live as naturally as possible.

They’ll be very shy and will get stressed if you keep them in groups that are too small. Most hatchetfish can be kept in groups of six or more in a fish tank and they will do fine.

Many enthusiasts say that it’s best to keep them in groups of ten or more. However, there are so many people keeping only six hatchetfish in their aquariums.

For most people, keeping six fish seems to do just fine, so you can count on this going well. Just make sure that you keep the fish in a tank that gives them enough space.

The Best Tank Size for Hatchetfish

You can keep hatchetfish in fairly small fish tanks. Keeping a group of six hatchetfish in a 20-gallon fish tank will be acceptable.

These fish aren’t incredibly active and that means that they don’t need as much room as some other shoaling fish. Just make sure that you have a lid on the tank so that the fish won’t be able to jump out.

If you want to keep these fish in community tanks you’ll likely want to get a larger aquarium. You never want to overcrowd the fish tank since this will lead to the fish getting stressed.

Make sure that the fish have more than enough room and all will be well. You want to have room for all of the accessories and decorations as well.

Do Hatchetfish Fight Each Other?

You’ve learned that hatchetfish are generally peaceful fish. They aren’t known to cause trouble in aquariums.

This doesn’t mean that they won’t fight each other sometimes. Hatchetfish will sometimes fight among themselves.

Sometimes they’ll chase each other or get into little squabbles. Generally, this isn’t something that you need to worry about.

It’s speculated that hatchetfish fight a little bit as a way of establishing a “pecking order” in their group. Since they’re shoaling fish this type of activity makes sense.

The fighting shouldn’t get out of control in the tank. It isn’t as if hatchetfish constantly fight each other.

They never become overly aggressive and they don’t fight with other fish. Even if the fish will fight each other, it’s incredibly rare for hatchetfish to be aggressive toward other fish.

Do They Need Plants in the Tank?

It’s best to put some floating plants in the fish tank for your hatchetfish. They like having these plants in the tank because they’ll provide them with cover.

Essentially, the presence of the plants will make the fish feel safe. Floating plants are best for these fish since they spend most of their time near the top of the tank.

Plants will give the hatchetfish shelter and it’ll make the environment feel natural to them. There are many good floating plants that you can consider putting in the tank for these fish.

Water lettuce and duckweed are both common options that people enjoy using. It’s also recommended to put some driftwood at the bottom of the tank to make things feel as natural as possible for the hatchetfish.

What Do Hatchetfish Eat?

Since hatchetfish are carnivorous, they’re going to eat various protein-rich foods. It’s common for people to feed these fish pellets on a daily basis.

It’s easy to buy carnivorous fish pellets that contain the nutrients that hatchetfish need. You can also feed the fish live food from time to time.

Hatchetfish love eating brine shrimp, wingless fruit flies, daphnia, and blackworms. It’s also common for people to feed these fish freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms.

You can get everything that you need from a pet store or an aquarium store. Most people choose to feed hatchetfish twice per day.

Are Hatchetfish Good in Community Fish Tanks?

You can put hatchetfish in community fish tanks without it being a problem. These fish are very common sights in community aquariums.

Many fish tank enthusiasts say that hatchetfish are some of the best surface-dwelling community fish you will find. They’re peaceful fish that will mind their own business in the tank.

You’re not going to have to worry about aggression issues when caring for these fish. Of course, they’re still not going to be compatible with every other type of freshwater fish.

Since hatchetfish are so gentle, they can get bullied by aggressive fish. So you need to take the time to pick good tank mates for them.

There are many popular fish that are known to be compatible with hatchetfish. For example, you can put these fish in a tank with cory catfish or various types of tetras.

It can be great to keep these fish in a community tank. So long as you research compatible tank mates ahead of time it’ll be a great experience.

How Long Will Hatchetfish Live?

Typically, hatchetfish will live for around five years in an aquarium. They have the potential to live longer than this, but it depends on the quality of care that they receive.

Some types of hatchetfish don’t live for nearly that long. For example, the marbled hatchetfish has a lifespan of around two years.

So some hatchetfish will live for up to five years while others might only live for a couple of years. It’s always best to look up information based on the specific type of fish that you own.

To help the fish live for as long as possible you must focus on giving the fish quality care. Limit sources of stress and make sure that the water quality is very high.

When you feed these fish well and meet their care requirements it helps them to live longer. You can’t make hatchetfish live for that much longer than their life expectancy, though.

Hatchetfish Diseases

When caring for these fish you want to do your best to protect them from common diseases. There are some common illnesses that are known to impact these fish.

Ich is one of the most common diseases that impact hatchetfish. This is a parasitic disease that causes white spots to form all over the fish’s body.

They also might have to deal with diseases such as fin rot. This is a bacterial infection that usually only occurs in tanks with poor water quality.

Dropsy is a condition that is closely associated with improper nutrition and stress. It causes fish to have swollen bellies.

You can prevent diseases by taking good care of the water. Do your best to maintain pristine water quality and it’s unlikely that your fish will get sick.

It’s also important to feed your fish without giving it too much food. Feeding the fish too much could lead to swim bladder complications.

Hatchetfish aren’t known to be sickly or fragile, but you still want to look out for them. Handle the basics well and try to catch any signs of disease fast so you can treat the fish if they ever do get sick.

Are Hatchetfish Easy to Breed?

No, hatchetfish are not easy to breed. These fish are considered to be rather difficult to breed, but it’s not impossible to do so.

It’s not recommended to attempt to breed these fish at home. If you have experience as a breeder, you might wish to try your hand at it.

Just don’t expect things to go easily. Common hatchetfish appear to be very tough to breed in captivity.

So long as you approach the topic with the right expectations you won’t be disappointed. You shouldn’t buy these fish with the expectation that you’ll be able to breed them.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned so much about hatchetfish now. Now that you know more about their care requirements it’ll be easier to proceed.

Do you feel like hatchetfish will be a good fit for you? These fish are nice and they can be so much fun to own.

They’re fun to observe and keeping a small group of these fish in the tank won’t be too tough. Hatchetfish aren’t hard to care for, but they do require you to put in a bit of effort.

You need to keep the water clean and focus on feeding the fish well. Keep these fish in good shape by meeting their basic needs.

These are excellent community fish that will work in many different types of tanks. They’re gentle fish that aren’t going to cause problems in community aquariums.

Share this post: