Maximum size : 7 cm

Spotfin Hatchetfish - Thoracocharax stellatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Spotfin Hatchetfish (Thoracocharax stellatus) has enjoyed enduring popularity in the aquarium hobby for several decades. Esteemed for their peaceful nature, energetic demeanor, and lack of skittishness, these hatchetfish are well-suited for inclusion in a community aquarium. In addition, beginner aquarists will appreciate their relative hardiness, further adding to their appeal.

In their natural habitat, Spotfin Hatchetfish exhibits schooling behaviour, thus, it is advised to maintain them in groups consisting of no less than six individuals, preferably more. By providing the security of their own kind, these captivating fish will thrive, allowing observers to witness their intriguing natural behaviours. Optimal tankmates for Spotfin Hatchetfish may include species occupying different regions of the aquarium, such as Dwarf Barbs, Tetras, Apistogrammas, Corydoras Catfish, and smaller Plecos. Furthermore, peaceful coexistence can be fostered with other South American fish, such as the Marbled Hatchetfish. It is prudent, however, to avoid housing these hatchetfish with fast-moving, large, or aggressive species, as competition for food and potential stress may ensue.

While decorative elements are not essential for the Spotfin Hatchetfish, they will appreciate an Amazon biotope-style aquarium, complete with driftwood, sandy substrate, and leaf litter. Occasional exposure to a gentle current for swimming against is enjoyed, but providing secluded areas is equally important. Furthermore, the presence of floating plants on the water's surface or a secure lid for the aquarium is advised, as Spotfin Hatchetfish are known to exhibit impressive jumping behaviours during feeding.

Spotfin Hatchetfish is recognized as one of the larger species within their genus. Their distinct features include a deep, flat body with an upward-facing small mouth. Streamlined in form, they possess a prominent semi-circular bulging belly extending from the mouth to the caudal peduncle. Their silver bodies are complemented by elongated pectoral fins and transparent fins, with the exception of a noteworthy dark spot adorning the dorsal fin. Additionally, fleshy raised bumps gracefully traverse their abdomen and caudal peduncle, further accentuating their unique appearance.

Spotfin Hatchetfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Spotfin Hatchetfish poses a significant challenge due to their near-identical physical appearance. However, one potential distinguishing characteristic lies in the female's abdominal region, which tends to exhibit a more rounded contour, particularly when she carries a load of eggs.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameThoracocharax stellatus
Year Described1858
Other NamesSilver Hatchetfish, Spotfin Silver Hatchetfish, Spotted Hatchetfish, Platinum Hatchetfish
OriginsVenezuela , Brazil , Peru , Colombia , Ecuador , Bolivia , Paraguay , Argentina
Max Size7 cm
Aquarium LevelTop
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 7 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.0 - 7.5
GH 3 - 15
TDS 18 - 215
Ideal Temperature
68 - 82
20 - 27

Natural Habitat

The Spotfin Hatchetfish embarks on a captivating journey across the diverse landscapes of South America, claiming its presence in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. These remarkable fish find their sanctuaries in prominent River Basins such as the Amazon, Orinoco, Paraguay, Parana, Tocantins and Araguaia. Slow-flowing Rivers, the serene embrace of still blackwater, or the crystal-clear depths of lakes, streams, oxbows, backwaters, and floodplains, the Spotfin Hatchetfish finds its place amidst the lush riparian vegetation that thrives in abundance. It is within these enchanting realms that the Spotfin Hatchetfish thrives, weaving its existence into the fabric of these mesmerizing ecosystems.

 Araguaia River - Brazil
Brazil Flag


Breeding Spotfin Hatchetfish in an aquarium setting can present a challenge; however, with suitable conditions, spawning can be encouraged. To initiate successful breeding, providing a separate breeding tank featuring a thin layer of gravel substrate is necessary. The water parameters should mimic a mature, soft, and slightly acidic environment, requiring a modest elevation in temperature. Given that these fish originate from blackwater habitats, incorporating peat into the breeding tank will aid in darkening and softening the water. Additionally, a dimly lit environment is essential, and the inclusion of floating plants serves multiple purposes, including further reducing light intensity and providing a suitable spawning medium. To maintain water quality, a small air-powered sponge filter can be employed to provide gentle filtration and water circulation.

The Spotfin Hatchetfish engage in an elaborate courtship ritual before the female scatters her eggs, descending to the tank's bottom. While breeding pairs can be utilized, the most favourable approach involves spawning a small group consisting of four to six individuals. Conditioning the breeding stock with a nutrient-rich diet comprising small insects, crustaceans, and bloodworms encourages spawning behaviour. Once the spawning process is completed, it is advisable to remove the parents promptly, as they may consume both eggs and fry if given the opportunity. Approximately 36 to 48 hours after spawning, the eggs will hatch, and within one to two days, the fry will become free-swimming. During the initial week, the fry will require minuscule food sources such as infusoria, paramecium, or powdered fry food until they grow sufficiently to accept baby brine shrimp or microworms. Around 20 days after hatching, the fry will exhibit the distinctive body shape of adult specimens and explore all aquarium areas as they continue to develop.

Diet & feeding

In their natural habitat, Spotfin Hatchetfish primarily exhibits insectivorous feeding behaviour, skillfully leaping out of the water to capture insects such as beetles, ants, and mayflies from riparian vegetation. Within the confines of an aquarium, these fish may initially display reluctance in accepting dried food options. However, with time and patient acclimation, they typically adapt to including dried foods in their diet. Optimal nutrition for Spotfin Hatchetfish entails incorporating a high-quality dried food, such as flakes, as the primary staple. Nevertheless, if available, it is crucial to ensure that a substantial portion of their dietary intake comprises live and frozen food sources, including daphnia, fruit flies, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. These versatile fish exhibit surface-feeding tendencies while also readily pursuing sinking foods to meet their nutritional needs.

Other Hatchetfish of interest