Max Size: 6.5cm

Common Hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus sternicla)

The Common Hatchetfish is a schooling species best kept in groups of five or more and spend most of the time swimming on the top-level of the aquarium where it hunts for food. These fish are peaceful towards other fish species but often bicker among themselves. This Hatchetfish can be nervous and shy and are not recommended for the beginner aquarist as they are susceptible to ich so will need fish keepers with experience with this sort of thing.

These fish get their name from its relatively sizeable protruding belly which resembles a hatchet.

The Common Hatchetfish is a deep-bodied fish with white or silvery bodies. This Hatchetfish has a pronounced, black horizontal line running through the centre of the body. They have a mouth situated close to the top of the head for feeding at the surface.

Hatchetfish will frequently jump out of the water when startled, launched by their large, winglike pectoral fins. They also jump to catch small flying insects, so it is advisable to keep a tight-fitting lid on the aquarium.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameGasteropelecus sternicla
Other NamesRiver Hatchetfish
OriginsGuyana, Peru, Suriname
Aquarium LevelTop
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan2 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.0
GH2 - 15
TDS18 -215
73 - 81℉
22.8 - 27.2℃

Photos of the Common Hatchetfish

Common hatchetfish
Common hatchetfish
Common hatchetfish
Common hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish
Common Hatchetfish

Natural Habitat

You can find Common Hatchetfish in Guyana and Surinam in the southern tributaries of the Amazon as well as the middle Amazon basin in Peru, Venezuela and the Rio Paraguay basin in Brazil in South America. These fish inhabit slow-moving small streams, rivers and swamps with an abundance of surface vegetation.

What to feed the Common Hatchetfish

Common Hatchetfish are primarily carnivores in the wild, and their diet is mainly composed of worms, insects and crustaceans.

Most will readily take to eating prepared foods in the aquarium, and one of the best foods to offer them is micro pellets, which will provide them with all of their nutritional requirements. However, if at first, they refuse to take prepared foods, you can mix it in with feedings of frozen or live foods until they are more likely to accept it. This may take time, but they should eventually take to the prepared foods.

Because of their carnivorous nature, their diet should contain regular feedings of live or frozen foods. The best live foods are mosquito larvae, blackworms, wingless fruit flies and daphnia. Their tastes remain similar in frozen foods, and bloodworm, brine shrimp, daphnia, and blackworms are all excellent foods to give them.

How to sex the Common Hatchetfish

It is challenging to differentiate males and females, but if viewed from above, the females are very slightly larger and noticeably rounder-bodied than males, especially when carrying eggs.

How to breed the Common Hatchetfish

The Common Hatchetfish are egg layers, but unfortunately, they have not been successfully bred in captivity, so there are no records or information on how to reproduce this species.

Other Hatchetfish of interest

Marbled Hatchetfish(Carnegiella strigata)
Spotfin Hatchetfish(Thoracocharax stellatus)
Date Added: 21/10/2020 - Updated: 22/11/2021 16:44:52