Hatchetfish are popular community aquarium fish. They’re considered to be some of the best fish to choose to occupy the upper areas of the tank.
Many people love these fish, but they can be a bit tough to care for. They’re not so hard to take care of that you need to be worried, but you do need to focus on providing them with optimal care.
Part of this involves feeding the fish a proper diet. What do hatchetfish eat?
Below, you’ll learn about the different foods that you should be feeding hatchetfish. If you follow this advice it’ll be easy to keep your hatchetfish in good health.
Do Hatchetfish Eat Plants?
No, hatchetfish are carnivorous. So they’re going to need to eat meaty foods.
These fish aren’t known to eat plants at all. They won’t eat any type of vegetable-based foods.
Sometimes people might be able to get these fish to eat vegetable-based pellets, but they’re not going to provide the fish with the right nutrients.
Hatchetfish need protein and that’s why you need to focus on meaty protein-rich foods. Plants won’t factor into the diet of these fish in any way.
You also don’t need to worry about these fish eating plants in a planted fish tank. They hang out at the surface and will interact with floating plants, though.
They love floating plants since they will use them for hiding spots. You won’t see them eating the plants, though.
What Are the Best and Worst Food Options?
Generally, hatchetfish are considered to be small carnivores. They feed on small things such as insects, small crustaceans, larvae, and other such things.
You don’t have to replicate the wild diet of these fish in the tank. However, it’s wise to feed them foods that will provide them with the same nutrients.
The best foods to give hatchetfish will all be meaty protein-based foods. They love eating brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, daphnia, and more.
It’s also common for people to purchase carnivore fish pellets for them. They’ll love eating the pellets and it’s a simple way to give them the nutrients that they need.
You can supplement the pellets by feeding them live food such as brine shrimp or different types of worms. It’s fine to give them freeze-dried or frozen food, too.
The worst food options for these fish would be veggie-based foods. Such foods don’t contain the nutrients that these fish need to grow and remain healthy.
How Often to Feed Hatchetfish
You want to make sure that you feed these fish reasonably often. These fish do best when they’re fed multiple times per day.
It’s wise to feed these fish at least twice per day. Some people choose to feed hatchetfish three times per day, though.
Either option is fine, but you want to make sure not to overfeed the fish. Overfeeding can lead to health issues.
Generally, it’s easier to break up the feeding sessions into two or three feeding times. These fish don’t do as well if you try to feed them one very large meal per day.
How Much to Feed Them
It’s important to feed your hatchetfish enough without going overboard. These fish can overeat if you choose to give them too much food at once.
Try feeding them as much as they can eat in a few minutes each time that you feed them. You’ll get a feel for how much food to give them as you continue to care for them.
Break the feeding sessions up into two or three separate feeding times. Don’t feed them huge meals at once since this can lead to constipation issues.
They’ll have an easier time eating smaller meals multiple times per day. It’s easy enough to do this, but it does require a bit more effort on your part.
If you need to do two feedings per day that’s fine. Many people feed these fish once in the morning and once again in the late afternoon or evening.
Advice for Feeding Hatchetfish
Since hatchetfish stay near the top of the tank it’s best to turn off the filter when feeding them. These fish are surface-feeding fish that will eat right at the surface of the water.
If you have the filter on the food might sink to the bottom and they will miss a bunch of it. Turning the filter off mitigates this problem substantially.
Turn the filter right back on once the fish are done eating. It’s easy enough to get into the habit of doing this.
Many hatchetfish enthusiasts say that this helps quite a bit. This is good advice no matter which type of hatchetfish you’re caring for.
How Long Can Hatchetfish Go Without Eating?
So now you’re likely wondering how long you can do without feeding these fish. If you have to be away from home for a day or so will the fish survive?
These fish will likely survive a day or so without food so long as they’re healthy. However, not feeding them is going to cause stress.
Stress can make the fish get sick and it’s not recommended to deviate from your typical feeding patterns. If you want to keep the fish in good health it’s wise not to miss feeding your fish too often.
Regardless, it’s said that hatchetfish can survive a day or so without food if they’re healthy. An unhealthy fish is a different scenario.
An unhealthy fish might be more likely to die. If you’re going on a short vacation, it’s best to get someone to stop by and feed your fish for you.
Will Hatchetfish Eat Shrimp?
Hatchetfish will certainly eat shrimp. It’s normal for people to feed these fish certain types of shrimp such as brine shrimp.
Of course, they will only eat some types of shrimp. Some shrimp grow to be large enough that they won’t be able to be gobbled up by hatchetfish.
So some people have kept hatchetfish in community fish tanks with certain types of shrimp. If the shrimp breed in the tank the hatchetfish will eat the babies.
If you’re interested in keeping hatchetfish in a community tank with shrimp it’s possible to do so. It just depends on how big the shrimp are.
You’ll want to look up compatibility based on the type of shrimp that you’re interested in. It could be a good experience.
Will They Eat Other Fish?
Now that you know that hatchetfish are carnivorous, you might be worried about them eating other fish. This isn’t something you need to worry about too much.
These fish have rather small mouths. This prevents them from being able to eat most other fish that you would put with them in a community tank setting.
If you put these fish in a community tank they’re going to be peaceful fish that will do their own thing. They’re not generally known to be aggressive toward their tank mates.
It’s more common for hatchetfish to get bullied in community tanks than it is for them to be aggressive. They’re peaceful fish despite being carnivorous.
Wild hatchetfish feed on insects, worms, small crustaceans, and other tiny things. They might eat baby fish or fish eggs, but that holds for most omnivorous or carnivorous fish.
Don’t hesitate to keep hatchetfish in a community tank if you’d like to go that route. Just be sure to research the compatibility of their tank mates ahead of time.
General Hatchetfish Advice
To ensure that you have a good time caring for these fish, there are a few things you should know outside of understanding how to feed them well. These fish are jumpers and they will jump out of the tank if it doesn’t have a lid.
They feed at the surface of the water in the wild and they’re known to jump to catch insects. You need to protect the fish by having a tight-fitting lid on the tank.
It’s also appropriate to keep these fish in groups of six or more. Hatchetfish are shoaling fish that don’t do well in groups that are too small.
When you want the fish to thrive in your tank, it’s better to keep six of them. So be sure that you buy enough of them to get started so that they will feel comfortable in your aquarium.
So long as you feed these fish well it’ll be easier to keep them in good health. These fish do best when they’re fed multiple times per day.
You need to feed them high-quality protein-rich foods. This means giving the fish carnivore fish pellets or live foods such as brine shrimp.
Since these fish have small mouths you need to make sure that you give them live foods that will fit in their mouths. So don’t give them things that are too large or they won’t be able to consume them.
Aside from feeding these fish, make sure to take care of the water quality in the tank. This is incredibly important when it comes to keeping hatchetfish healthy and happy.
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.