Max Size: 3.5cm

Marbled Hatchetfish (Carnegiella strigata)

The marble hatchet fish is a peaceful, unique looking fish that will always hang around at the top of your tank. However, these fish do not make an ideal community fish due to its small size and somewhat timid nature and is best kept with similarly sized peaceful fish.

Their unusual shape is due to a big muscle, which the fish will use to jump high distances above the water's surface to avoid predators. They also swim strangely, which resembles a dead leaf floating sideways on the surface of a body of water. All this helps to protect them against potential predators that may be lurking in the water, which make them an attractive and impressive fish for aquarists. However, The Marbled Hatchetfish is not suitable for the beginner aquarist as they are very shy feeders and are susceptible to Ich.

Overall, hatchet fish do not seem to have the reputation as being one of the hardier species to keep in the home aquarium, but the marble hatchet fish appears to do better than other hatchet fish.

The Marbled Hatchetfish has a deep, hatchet shaped body that is usually white which displays a golden line that extends from its eye to its caudal fin and the area below has an attractive brown and cream-coloured mottled pattern like a marble. Their mouth is situated close to the top of the head for feeding at the surface of the water.

Tank Mates for the Marbled Hatchetfish

3 ideal tank mate ideas for the Marbled Hatchetfish include:

Black Widow Tetra(Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
Frail Gourami(Ctenops nobilis)
Staeck Endler(Poecilia wingei)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameCarnegiella strigata
Other NamesRiver Hatchetfish
OriginsBolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Aquarium LevelTop
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespan2 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 7.5
GH2 - 20
TDS18 - 179
75 - 82℉
23.9 - 27.8℃

Photos of the Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish
Marbled Hatchetfish

Natural Habitat

The Marbled Hatchetfish are found in Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Peru, and Brazil as well as the Rio Orinoco drainage system in Venezuela in South America.

These Hatchetfish inhabit forest tributaries and streams, usually in areas with lots of dense surface vegetation. They remain in groups and spend virtually all of their time at the water surface, feeding on insects and crustaceans.


What to feed the Marbled Hatchetfish

In the home aquarium, Marbled Hatchetfish will generally eat most kinds of food offered to them. However, they will not survive on just flake food. To keep the right balance, give them protein foods such as mosquito larvae, bloodworm, fruit flies or brine shrimp. These can be either live or frozen, and they will need to be given to them every day. The food needs to stay at the surface longer than most.

How to sex the Marbled Hatchetfish

It is relatively tricky to differentiate males from females, but when viewed from above, the female appears more extensive and much plumper, and you may see eggs inside her if the female is about to spawn.

How to breed the Marbled Hatchetfish

In the aquarium, breeding Marbled Hatchetfish can be somewhat tricky, but they can be encouraged to spawn under the right conditions.

These are blackwater fish, so the addition of peat will help to darken and soften the water.

They will require a separate breeding tank with a thin layer of gravel as a substrate. The water should be well established, soft, and slightly acidic, and the temperature will need to be raised somewhat. The tank should be dimly lit, and you will need to supply floating plants. The plants will help to reduce the light further and will be used as a spawning medium. A small, air-powered sponge filter will produce filtration and mild water circulation.

The Marbled Hatchetfish will go through a lengthy courting after which the female will deposit eggs on roots and plants.

You can breed them in pairs, but the most profitable way to spawn these fish is in small groups of 4 to 6 specimens. Condition the breeders with a rich diet that includes plenty of small flying insects, crustaceans and bloodworm to encourage them to spawn.

Once spawning has been achieved, it is advisable to remove the parents as they will consume both the eggs and fry.

The eggs will hatch approximately 30 to 36 hours later, and the fry will become free swimming one to two days after that.

The fry will require tiny foods such as infusoria for the first week or so until the fry are big enough to feed on brine shrimp or microworm. Around 20 days after they hatch, the fry will start to develop the body shape of the adults and swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Other Hatchetfish of interest

Common Hatchetfish(Gasteropelecus sternicla)
Spotfin Hatchetfish(Thoracocharax stellatus)
Date Added: 08/10/2020 - Updated: 22/11/2021 16:45:45