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Maximum size : 8 cm

Spotted Headstander - Chilodus punctatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Spotted Headstanders (Chilodus punctatus) are captivating and peaceful fish that thrive when kept in groups, ideally consisting of at least a trio. While they possess a tranquil disposition, they can be a tad skittish, emphasizing the importance of a harmonious tank environment. These delightful species prefer the company of their own kind and should be provided with suitable companions. Boisterous or fast-moving species might cause distress, as Spotted Headstanders tend to be on the shy side. Nonetheless, a group of these fish can coexist, albeit with occasional squabbles.

Ensuring adequate hiding places is essential, as it reduces the risk of physical harm, although such occurrences are infrequent. Tetras, small loaches, Corydoras Catfish, and peaceful Cichlids such as Mikrogeophagus or Cleithracara make excellent tank mates for these remarkable fish, promoting a harmonious aquatic community. Creating an optimal habitat for Spotted Headstanders involves crafting a biotope setup that mimics their natural environment. This includes providing soft, slightly acidic water, a sandy substrate, and the presence of driftwood branches and roots intermingled with leaf litter and floating vegetation. However, it is crucial to note that these mesmerizing creatures are sensitive to dissolved organic wastes, necessitating the introduction of these fish exclusively into well-established aquariums.

With their elongated bodies adorned in enchanting shades of greenish-brown, highlighted by delicate rows of small brown spots, Spotted Headstanders captivate the eyes of onlookers. Their silvery throats and bellies add a touch of elegance to their appearance. At the same time, some individuals showcase a distinguished dark longitudinal line spanning from their snout to their caudal fin, showcasing the unique characteristics influenced by their specific geographic location. Furthermore, these intriguing fish boast petite, slightly upward mouths and a distinctive thick upper lip, adding to their charm and allure.

Spotted Headstander Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Spotted Headstanders is a straightforward task. Males exhibit a distinct physical appearance that sets them apart from females. They boast an elongated dorsal fin and possess a slender body structure. On the other hand, females display a contrasting morphology, characterized by a rounder body shape and a shorter dorsal fin. By observing these notable differences, one can readily discern the gender of these remarkable fish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameChilodus punctatus
Year Described2003
Other NamesPearl Headstander, Checkered Headstander
Max Size8 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asTrios
LifespanUp to 12 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.0 - 7.5
GH2 - 10
68 - 82
20 - 27

Natural Habitat

Spotted Headstanders are captivating fish found in the vibrant waters of Lake Amuku, nestled within the upper Essequibo River system in Guyana, South America. These remarkable species extend their range across the vast expanse of the Amazon system, gracing the waterways of Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. Additionally, they are native residents of the scenic coastal rivers of Colombia, Suriname, and Guyana. In their natural habitats, Spotted Headstanders prefer the enchanting embrace of shallow rocky areas adorned with a hint of aquatic vegetation, thriving amidst the gentle currents of slow-moving rivers. They can also be encountered in the vicinity of serene lakes, picturesque tributaries, and captivating oxbows, further enhancing the allure of these remarkable fish.


The breeding process of Spotted Headstanders remains somewhat of a mystery, as there is limited information on successful breeding techniques. However, it is known that these fish are egg scatterers that do not engage in parental care. Spawning typically occurs at the onset of the wet season, with the parents depositing their eggs amidst the intricate roots of floating plants. A single spawning event can yield approximately 200 eggs. It is imperative to remove the parents from the breeding tank after spawning to prevent them from consuming the eggs.

Once hatched, the fry exhibits a distinct behaviour of swimming with their heads positioned downward. To nurture these delicate offspring, providing them with baby brine shrimp as an initial food source proves beneficial. While further details regarding their breeding behaviour and requirements may be limited, dedicated efforts and experimentation can unlock the secrets to successfully breeding these fascinating Spotted Headstanders.

Diet & feeding

Spotted Headstanders exhibit a diverse dietary preference in their natural habitat, consuming various food sources, including aquatic plants, algae, detritus, insects, and small invertebrates. Therefore, maintaining a well-balanced diet is crucial for their overall health and vitality in the aquarium setting. To meet their nutritional needs, it is recommended to provide them with a combination of high-quality flake food as a daily staple, supplemented with specialized formulas containing spirulina or algae wafers. As a delightful treat, occasional servings of live or frozen foods such as bloodworm, red mosquito larvae, and Cyclops can be offered. 

These fish also derive satisfaction from consuming various vegetable matter, including spinach leaves, stewed lettuce leaves, chickweed, and watercress. It is important to note that Spotted Headstanders may exhibit nibbling behaviour on aquarium plants, particularly in the absence of sufficient algae growth. To maintain optimal feeding habits, offering them multiple small feedings throughout the day is advised, ensuring that the quantity provided can be consumed within a three-minute timeframe.

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