Hatchetfish have become rather popular aquarium fish over the last several years. Many people appreciate the unique look of these fish.
They can be incredible community aquarium fish. It’s said that they’re among the best surface-dwelling community fish that you can buy.
Of course, not all hatchetfish are the same. There are many hatchetfish out there that are quite a bit different from the common hatchetfish that you might be familiar with.
If you’re looking into buying hatchetfish for your tank, it’d be wise to know about the different types. Keep reading to learn all about the various options that you need to know about.
1 – Common Hatchetfish
Common hatchetfish are the type of hatchetfish that you’re likely most familiar with. These fish are easily found in aquarium stores around North America.
The common hatchetfish grows to be up to two and a half inches long. They’re good fish that are only moderately difficult to care for.
It’s not too daunting of a task for beginners to care for these fish. You need to keep the water clean for them and feed them properly to ensure that they stay healthy.
When keeping common hatchetfish, it’s normal to go with a 20-gallon fish tank. Six common hatchetfish can fit in a 20-gallon fish tank comfortably.
2 – Silver Hatchetfish
Silver hatchetfish grow to be 2.25 inches long. That makes them a little bit smaller than common hatchetfish.
These fish are close to being as common as the common hatchetfish mentioned above, though. They’re also easy to find in aquarium stores, and they’re quite popular.
If you love the silver look of these fish, you’ll be pleased with them. It’s best to keep these fish in groups of six to keep them happy, just like other types of hatchetfish.
They should thrive in a 20-gallon fish tank, just like common hatchetfish. Since they’re a little smaller, they’ll even have a bit more room in a 20-gallon aquarium.
3 – Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled hatchetfish are also great options that you’ll want to look into. These fish are becoming popular due to how neat their marbled bodies are.
They have the standard hatchet-shaped bodies that you expect, but the marbled pattern on their bodies helps them to stand out. It’s also worth noting that these fish are substantially smaller than common hatchetfish or silver hatchetfish.
A marbled hatchetfish will grow to be around 1.4 inches long. Since they’re smaller fish, they will fit in 15-gallon aquariums just fine.
You can comfortably fit six of these fish in a 15-gallon fish tank. However, it’s normal for people to go with 20-gallon tanks as well.
Sometimes it’s easier to keep a slightly larger fish tank clean. Even so, it’s good to know that you can go with a 15-gallon fish tank, and all will be well.
4 – Black-Winged Hatchetfish
Black-winged hatchetfish have a lot in common with the marbled hatchetfish mentioned above. They’re close to the same size, but black-winged hatchetfish are ever-so-slightly bigger.
A black-winged hatchetfish will grow to be one and a half inches long on average. They can also fit in 15-gallon fish tanks.
Most experts say that it’s best to give them 20-gallon fish tanks, though. They seem to appreciate having a little more room, and six fish will be very comfortable in a 20-gallon aquarium.
You’ll like the black pectoral fins of these fish and how they stand out in the tank. Some prefer the look of marbled hatchetfish, but it’s easy to see why black-winged hatchetfish are gaining popularity.
5 – Pygmy Hatchetfish
Pygmy hatchetfish are the smallest hatchetfish that you will find. There might be a few variants of pygmy hatchetfish that you will come across at aquarium stores.
Generally, these fish are known to be small hatchetfish that are one inch long or smaller. Many pygmy hatchetfish grow to be around 0.9 inches long.
Since they’re rather tiny fish, they’re good for those who don’t have room for big tanks. It’s okay to keep six pygmy hatchetfish in a 10-gallon aquarium.
Their small size makes them more appealing to certain people. Caring for pygmy hatchetfish will be the same as taking care of the other types of hatchetfish for the most part.
6 – Giant Hatchetfish
Giant hatchetfish are rather interesting. There are some giant hatchetfish that are known as “deep-sea hatchetfish.”
These fish generally aren’t sold to aquarium enthusiasts and can only be found in the wild. They grow to be up to six inches long, and they only have lifespans of around one year.
There are also larger variants of silver hatchetfish that are sold as “giant silver hatchetfish.” These fish grow to be four inches long or possibly slightly larger.
Since these fish are big, they need to be kept in 50-gallon aquariums. It’s not as common to see these fish for sale in aquarium stores.
All Hatchetfish Are Shoaling Fish
It’s important to understand that these fish won’t do well on their own. Hatchetfish are shoaling fish, and this means that you can’t keep them by themselves in fish tanks.
You can’t even keep them in pairs if you want them to remain healthy. These fish are used to living in groups.
This applies to all of the hatchetfish that you learned about above. They’re all fish that need to be kept in appropriate group sizes.
To keep the fish safe, it’s recommended to keep a minimum of six hatchetfish in the tank. If you keep fewer fish than this, it’ll be bad for the fish.
They might become stressed, and this will lead to them getting sick. You want to avoid such problems.
Note that many enthusiasts say that hatchetfish are happiest when kept in groups of ten or more. Six fish will be fine in an aquarium, but going with ten fish will be good if you have enough room.
Hatchetfish Like to Jump
Another thing to know about hatchetfish is that they like to jump. These fish are surface-feeding fish that like to jump in the air and grab insects.
They also use their jumping abilities to escape predators. It’s common for an entire group of fish to jump into the air to get away from predators.
Hatchetfish are considered to be “flying fish” because they’re good jumpers that can stay in the air for a while. It’s impressive to see these fish jumping in their natural habitats.
In fish tanks, these fish still like to jump. So you need to be careful and keep a tight-fitting lid on the tank.
Otherwise, the fish could jump out of the tank and get killed. It’s best to be prepared and buy an appropriate tank with a tight-fitting lid that will keep your fish protected.
They’re All Carnivores
You should also know that hatchetfish are carnivorous. These fish eat meaty foods, and they aren’t known to eat plant matter.
So when caring for the fish, you’ll be feeding them carnivore fish pellets and live foods. Giving the fish bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and other foods will be appropriate.
They have small mouths, so they need to be fed small types of live food. These fish aren’t capable of eating prey that is too large.
In the wild, they feed on tiny things like insects, worms, daphnia, and small crustaceans. It’s imperative to give these fish the right nutrients so they will stay healthy.
Feed them two or three times a day. Give them small amounts each time so they don’t overeat.
Hatchetfish Are Very Peaceful
It’s also worth noting that hatchetfish are very peaceful. Many people hear the word “carnivore,” and they immediately start thinking that the fish will be aggressive.
This simply isn’t the case. Hatchetfish are rather peaceful and they won’t bother other fish in a community tank.
It’s easy to keep these fish in community tanks and keep them happy. Just make sure that they’re given enough room and that you pick appropriate tank mates.
Hatchetfish are so peaceful that they might get bullied in community aquariums if you put them in there with aggressive fish. For example, they don’t do well when paired with aggressive cichlids or killifish in community tanks.
They do excellently when kept with peaceful fish such as chili rasboras, dwarf gouramis, guppies, cory catfish, bristlenose plecos, and more. So you have many options to consider when putting together a community tank that contains hatchetfish.
Now you have a good understanding of the various types of hatchetfish that are out there. These fish are great, and you’re going to love owning them.
Some types of hatchetfish might appeal to you more than others, though. You might gravitate toward common hatchetfish or silver hatchetfish.
Or perhaps you’d prefer to go with a rather small hatchetfish type, such as pygmy hatchetfish. Either way, you’ll be getting peaceful fish that will be a joy to own.
To keep these fish healthy, you’ll need to keep the water quality high. Remember to test the water regularly and focus on tank maintenance.
Feed the fish properly and keep them in appropriately-sized groups. Doing this will ensure that you’ll have the best experience caring for hatchetfish.
Just pick your favorite type of hatchetfish and move forward. Consider how much room you have for a fish tank, and the decision should come easily.
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.