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Maximum size : 5 cm

Hockeystick Pencilfish - Nannostomus eques : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Hockeystick Pencilfish (Nannostomus eques) is a serene, amiable, and shy species, which, due to its small size and timidity, may not be the perfect fit for a community tank. Despite their reserved nature, these Pencilfish are impressively swift swimmers, displaying a more passive demeanor during daylight hours and becoming active at night. Their unique swimming style is marked by a diagonal orientation, with their head tilted upward. Ideally, these fish should be kept in groups of at least 10, with larger groups preferred when possible. Dominant males may occasionally quarrel, but ensuring ample hiding places and visual barriers can minimize any harm. Having a higher ratio of females to males can also help alleviate minor aggression-related issues. In their natural environment, these fish are found alongside numerous small characins, including species from the Copella, Hemigrammus, Hyphessobrycon, and Paracheirodon genera. Dwarf Cichlids from the Apistogramma or Mikrogeophagus genera can make excellent tankmates, as well as Corydoras Catfish and small loricariids. Hockeystick Pencilfish can be quite timid, so choose tankmates carefully to prevent them from hiding or refusing to feed due to boisterous companions. If you are flexible about creating an exact biotope, smaller Rasbora and Boraras species from Asia would get along well with the Pencilfish, as would Kuhli Loaches. A well-established aquarium with a dark substrate and background, as well as abundant plant cover—both rooted and floating—is essential for these peaceful mid-to-top-dwelling fish to feel secure. Efficient filtration with gentle water movement is recommended. The Hockeystick Pencilfish is a captivating species, characterized by its small size, slender and elongated body. Adorning their sides is a striking brown lateral stripe that extends from the nose to the caudal-fin base. Complementing this feature is a delicate silver-grey stripe situated above the dark brown line. Intriguingly, each body scale exhibits a dark brown spot, with the exception of those that form part of the silver stripe.

Hockeystick Pencilfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the sex of Hockeystick Pencilfish is a straightforward process. Males typically exhibit more vibrant coloration and a slimmer physique compared to females. Additionally, males possess an elongated anal fin, which often features a white edge.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameNannostomus eques
Year Described1876
Other NamesRocket Pencilfish, Diptail Pencilfish, Brown Pencilfish
OriginsGuyana Venezuela Colombia Peru Brazil
Max Size5 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 10+
Lifespanup to 5 year

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 7.5
GH3 - 10
TDS18 - 179
73 - 82
22.8 - 27.8

Natural Habitat

Get ready to be transported to the lush and vibrant Central and upper Amazon regions of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, where the stunning Hockeystick Pencil Fish can be found in their natural habitat. These majestic creatures inhabit slow-moving waters and sluggish streams, as well as swampy areas and flooded forests that are rich with aquatic vegetation and leaf litter or submerged wooded structures. The Hockeystick Pencil Fish can be found in a range of rivers, including the Rios Tapajós, Trombetas, Madeira, Rio Negro, Japura, Ica, and Putumayo, adding to the mesmerizing beauty and diversity of these aquatic environments. Not limited to just these regions, the Hockeystick Pencil Fish is also known to inhabit the Orinoco drainage in Venezuela and various rivers of Guyana, including the Essequibo and Curuni. These creatures have adapted to thrive in a range of environments, providing an unforgettable sight for nature enthusiasts and avid aquatic observers alike. Don't miss the chance to explore the beauty and diversity of the regions where these magnificent creatures can be found.
 Orinoco - Venezuela
Venezuela Flag
 Tapajós - Brazil
Brazil Flag
 Rio Negro - Colombia
Colombia Flag


Breeding Hockeystick Pencilfish can be challenging, although some instances of success have been reported. A mature, soft water breeding tank with dense vegetation is required, as this species tends to lay their eggs in batches on the undersides of plant leaves. The spawning process can last up to 10 hours. Once eggs are visible, either remove the adult fish or transfer the plants with attached eggs to a separate tank to prevent them from being consumed. The fry typically emerge within 24-36 hours and become free-swimming on the fifth or sixth day.

Diet & feeding

In their natural habitat, Hockeystick Pencilfish primarily exhibit carnivorous feeding habits, consuming invertebrates and zooplankton. However, in an aquarium setting, they adapt to an omnivorous diet, readily accepting small dried foods. They demonstrate a preference for live food sources such as mosquito larvae, Daphnia, Artemia, and various worms.

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