Hatchetfish are incredibly interesting fish that you might want to purchase for your fish tank. They’re relatively hardy fish that most beginners will have an easy time with.
Many people like buying them because they’re good in community tanks. Others simply enjoy the way that they look and love to observe them in aquariums.
One thing you should know about these fish is that they like to use camouflage. It’s quite interesting how these fish are capable of using it, too.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about hatchetfish and camouflage. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for these fish after reading everything.
Hatchetfish Can Use Bioluminescence
Bioluminescence is something that hatchetfish are capable of using. Some fish are capable of producing light in their bodies.
A hatchetfish can produce light using an organ that’s located in its belly area. When the fish produces light you’ll see that it will shine and look pale blue.
This pale blue light is a match for the daylight that’s coming from the surface. The daylight looks a lot like the light being produced by the fish.
So the fish can use this light as a type of camouflage. They can evade predators by using light to make it seem like they aren’t even there.
This winds up being a great method that allows hatchetfish to conceal their presence. It can protect them from predators in various situations.
Of course, it isn’t going to work 100% of the time. This doesn’t mean that hatchetfish never get eaten by predators, but they use their unique bioluminescence capabilities to produce light and get out of sticky situations.
How Do Hatchetfish Use Bioluminescence?
As mentioned above, bioluminescence allows hatchetfish to get away from predators. They can produce light that matches the daylight and use it to blend in.
The predators can’t see the fish properly when they do this. Why does this work so well, though?
Bioluminescence can be used as camouflage in deep-sea environments because of the way that deep-sea predators hunt. A deep sea predator is generally going to use shadows to find prey.
These creatures look up to spot silhouettes and use that information to determine where prey is located. The light that hatchetfish produce will allow them to obscure their shadows.
So they blend in while also obscuring their silhouettes. It also helps that hatchetfish have fairly flat bodies.
Their flat bodies make it easier for them to stay hidden. Even the hatchetfish’s skin helps when it comes to hiding from predators.
These fish have skin that looks a bit like dull aluminum foil, and it’s great for making use of the light that they produce through bioluminescence. The fish have evolved to use bioluminescence as a survival mechanism.
Some people believe that hatchetfish also use bioluminescence to attract mates. Not as much is known about this subject, though.
Can All Hatchetfish Use Bioluminescence?
Yes, all hatchetfish can use bioluminescence. Each unique species has its own light patterns as well.
They can use their light-producing organs to change how intense and colorful the light that they produce is. This unique ability is certainly something that stands out about hatchetfish.
So this is a unique capability of the hatchetfish that you can appreciate. It’s interesting to know that the fish that you’re caring for in your fish tank have evolved in such a way to be able to trick predators.
What Are Some Hatchetfish Predators?
There are many larger fish that are known to eat hatchetfish. You might be surprised to hear about certain fish that are predators of hatchetfish, though.
One of the most common predators that hatchetfish have to worry about is tuna. Tuna fish commonly make meals of hatchetfish in the wild.
These fish are also known to be preyed upon by lancetfish. This doesn’t mean that these are the only fish that will eat hatchetfish.
Any larger omnivorous or carnivorous fish that occupies the same waters could be a predator. Generally, omnivorous or carnivorous fish will eat smaller fish that will fit in their mouths.
The same is true of hatchetfish. They’re going to make meals of things that are small enough for them to eat.
What Do Wild Hatchetfish Eat?
In the wild, hatchetfish are going to eat whatever they can to survive. Since they’re carnivorous fish, they’re going to seek out protein-rich foods.
It’s common for these fish to eat fish larvae and other small things that they can find nearby. You’ll see hatchetfish eating copepods, ostracods, and many different small crustaceans.
Some species of hatchetfish will migrate to the surface to look for food, too. They’ll eat insects near the water’s surface when they can.
Since they have small mouths, they can’t eat fish that are too big. Thus, it’s more common for these fish to focus on small prey even when they grow to their full size.
Are Hatchetfish Hard to Care For?
It’s not overly tough to care for hatchetfish, but they’re not the easiest fish to care for either. If you want to buy some of these fish it’s important to be aware of their needs.
These fish are considered to be moderately difficult to care for. They’re not so tough to care for that beginners need to shy away from them, but they do require some effort.
Hatchetfish don’t do well when exposed to poor water conditions. So you need to keep the fish tank clean and monitor the water parameters closely.
It’s also important not to expose these fish to temperature fluctuations. So use a good heater that will keep the water temperature in the tank steady.
Feeding the fish will be simple enough since they’re going to eat carnivore fish pellets. It’s also wise to feed them live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and more.
Note that you need to keep these fish in small groups to keep them happy. You can’t just buy one or two hatchetfish and expect everything to be okay.
They need to be kept in groups that are large enough to feel happy and safe. It’s recommended to buy six of these fish if you can.
Since the fish aren’t too large and they aren’t the most active fish you can keep them in a 20-gallon fish tank. Don’t hesitate to buy hatchetfish for community aquariums either because they’re peaceful fish that get along well in such settings.
Learning more about hatchetfish and how they use bioluminescence should help you to appreciate them more. Hatchetfish are capable of using their unique light-producing organs to hide from predators.
They can produce light in their bodies and replicate the light that is shining down from above. This light allows them to blend into the environment so that nearby predators can’t see them.
This combined with their flat bodies and metallic-like skin make them rather hard to see. Predators have a tough time tracking hatchetfish down.
In the wild, hatchetfish have to worry about predators such as tuna fish and lancetfish. Other fish are known to eat them when they get the chance.
The bioluminescence capabilities of the hatchetfish give them a chance to survive. They developed these abilities through evolution.
Some people say that bioluminescence is also important for breeding purposes. It’s thought that hatchetfish will use their light-producing organs to make certain types of light to attract mates.
Not a lot is known about this now, though. Regardless, it’s interesting to see just how important bioluminescence is to these fish.
Let your friends know what you learned about these amazing fish today. They might come away with a greater appreciation for hatchetfish as well.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.