Hockeystick Pencilfish (Nannostomus eques) Fish Species Profile

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Hockeystick Pencilfish are calm, shy and friendly, but they do not make an ideal community fish because of their small size and rather timid nature. The pencilfish is nonetheless a speedy swimmer, almost passive during the day, and active at night.

It always swims diagonally, head upwards, and tilted.

This species of pencilfish are small, very slender, and elongated fish. They have a brown lateral stripe extending from nose to caudal-fin base. Above the dark brown line is a silver-grey stripe. It has a dark brown spot on each body scale except those forming part of the silver stripe.

Scientific NameNannostomus eques
Other NamesRocket Pencilfish, Diptail Pencilfish
OriginsSouth America
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 10+
Lifespanup to 5 year
Maximum Sizeup to 5 cm
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature73 - 82 ℉ (22.8 - 27.8 ℃)
PH4.5 - 7.5
GH3 - 10
TDS18 - 179

Origins of the Hockeystick Pencilfish

Hockeystick Pencil fish originate from the Central and upper Amazon regions in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, including the Rios Tapajos, Trombetas, Madeira, Rio Negro, Japura, Ica, and Putumayo.

They inhabit slow-moving waters sluggish streams, swampy areas and flooded forests, especially in areas where aquatic vegetation grows densely with leaf litter or submerged wooded structures.

It is also known from the Orinoco drainage in Venezuela plus various rivers of Guyana including the Essequibo and Curuni.


In nature, they are carnivorous, feeding on things like invertebrates and zooplankton. Still, in the aquarium, they will accept small dried foods with a preference of live foods such as mosquito larvae, Daphnia, Artemia and worms, making them omnivorous.

Sexing the Hockeystick Pencilfish

It is easy to determine the different sexes of this species.

The males are more colourful and normally slimmer than females, and also possess an extended anal-fin and usually have a white edge.

Breeding the Hockeystick Pencilfish

Breeding of this species is quite difficult but has been known to be successful in some cases.

You will need a mature, soft water breeding tank that is densely planted as this pencilfish lays there eggs in batches on the bottom of plant leaves.

Spawning can last up to 10 hours, once the eggs can be seen, you need to remove the adults or remove the plants that have the eggs on and place them in a separate tank, or they may very well be eaten.

You should be able to see the fry around 24-36 hours later, and they will become free swimming on the 5th or 6th day.

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Date Added: 8/24/2020 - Updated: 8/24/2020 11:47:11 AM