Max Size: 20cm

Striped Headstander (Anostomus anostomus)

The Striped Headstander tends to be somewhat shy, especially when first introduced to the tank. Therefore, you will need to provide a spacious, well-planted tank with decor offering plenty of hiding places. Once they have been acclimated, the fish will lose their shyness with appropriate hiding places.

These fish thrive in a biotype aquarium setup, so the substrate should consist of soft river sand, and your aquarium will need to be well planted. It will also be beneficial for your fish if you were to include driftwood and piles of rocks to create shelters at mid-height. Ensure the decor offers many surfaces to encourage the growth of algae, which will be great supplemental food. Also, a bright light will help encourage algae growth. Finally, keep in mind that these fish may eat certain types of plants, especially the new soft shoots and leaves, so choose robust species such as Java Fern and Anubias spp that you can tie onto the decor.

Striped Headstanders are generally peaceful schooling fish in the aquarium, although they may quarrel if they are maintained in small numbers. Therefore it is advised to retain these fish in groups of at least eight individuals, then any hostile behaviour will be spread throughout the shoal, and no single individual will bear the continual brunt of any aggression. However, it is recommended to keep one unless you can keep a group in a massive aquarium due to their potential adult size.

These fish should also not be kept with other species that are particularly slow-moving or long-finned as they can be nippy and avoid fish that demand the same foods as the Striped Headstander as they may not appreciate the competition. For example, these fish will not do well with the Chinese Algae Eaters of the Gyrinocheilus genus, freshwater sharks from the genus Epalzeorhynchos or Catfish from the genus Hemiancistrus.

You could house Striped Headstanders with medium to large-sized peaceful Cichlids, medium-sized Characins, medium to large-sized Barbs, Loaches, talking Catfish and suckermouth Catfish; they all make excellent tankmates for a large community setup.

Striped Headstanders are elongated fish with a rounded, pike-type body. This fish is distinguished by its upward-pointing mouth and small, tapered head. True to its name, it will spend most of its time in a "head-down" position. This fish is relatively large, generally reaching about 16 cm in length, though some individuals can reach 20 cm.

These fish have three dark, horizontal bands that run the entire length of their body, from the nose to the caudal peduncle. Each bar has a pale pinky-peach stripe between them. The lower and middle bands have jagged borders. The dorsal fin is red, and a solid red arc shape at the base of the tail fin gradually disappears, becoming transparent at the tail's end. In addition, the pelvic and anal fins are transparent with red striping.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameAnostomus anostomus
Other NamesStriped Anostomus, Anostomus Cigar Fish
Aquarium LevelMiddle
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH3 - 18
73 - 82℉
22.8 - 27.8℃


Striped Headstander
Striped Headstander
Striped Headstander

Natural Habitat

You can find Striped Headstanders in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems in Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia, Guyana and Peru in northern South America. They inhabit shallow rocky areas of streams and rivers where the water is fast-moving, and the algae are at their best.


The Striped Headstander will feed on aquatic plants, algae, detritus, insects and small invertebrates in the wild. In addition, these omnivorous fish will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods in the aquarium.

However, To keep a good balance, it would be best to give them high-quality flake food daily alongside a good spirulina formula fish food or algae wafer. You can also occasionally provide them with live or frozen fare such as bloodworm or brine shrimp as a treat.

This species will also enjoy other vegetable matter, such as crushed lettuce leaves, chickweed, spinach leaves and watercress. In addition, they may nibble on aquarium plants, especially if there is not enough algae growth in the aquarium. This species does best when fed several times a day but remember only to offer them what they are able to consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

Sexual Dimorphism

It is somewhat challenging to differentiate between male and female Striped Headstanders, especially when they are young. However, mature females usually grow slightly larger than males and tend to be fuller-bodied.


In nature, Headstanders are spawning fish that drop their eggs after pairing at the surface. Distinct pairs of the Striped Headstander will breed in thickly grown, weedy places, and the males usually stay near the nesting site.

Breeding of this fish has been accomplished in captivity. The Striped Headstander is produced commercially in South America and Asia; however, no specific data is currently available. Spawning them in the home aquarium is scarce, and no method has yet been established effectively. Some reports seem to indicate that the diet of the fish plays a critical role in initiating a spawn.

For a chance at successfully breeding them, you should separate the males from the females then condition them with plenty of live foods. You will need to provide a large spawning tank with a sandy substrate, a few stones with algae, roots and some peat filtration to add a touch of acidity.

It would be best to introduce the males and females into the prepared tank and gradually increase the temperature by a few degrees. Finally, cover the top with a towel, creating a darkened environment to help trigger the spawn.

Pairing should occur instantly just below the water's surface, with three to five eggs being dropped. You should then remove the parents from the tank once the eggs have been dropped, as they will usually consume them if given a chance. Next, you will need to feed the newly hatched fry baby brine shrimp, algae and Cyclops.

Frquently asked questions

Are Striped Headstanders a shoaling fish?

Yes, the Striped Headstander is a shoaling fish that you should keep together in groups of 6 or more individuals. However, you will require a very large tank for that many fish. If you were to keep them in smaller groups, you would find a lot of aggressive behaviour, so if you cannot buy or don't have a huge aquarium, you should only keep one of these species.

Are Striped Headstanders aggressive?

The striped Headstander will only become aggressive if kept with more aggressive species or housed in cramp conditions. If kept with the correct tankmates, then these fish are relatively peaceful.

How big do Striped Headstanders get?

Striped Headstanders can grow to the maximum of 20 cm in length; however, most aquarists that own these fish say they usually only grow to around 16 cm on average.

What are the best tankmates for the Striped Headstander?

The ideal tankmates for Striped Headstanders could include medium to large-sized peaceful Cichlids, medium-sized Characins, Catfish, medium to large-sized Barbs and Loaches. Unfortunately, small fish will be eaten, and they will nip long-finned species, so make sure you choose their tankmates with care.

What does the Striped Headstanders eat?

Striped Headstanders are not fussy when it comes to feeding time. They will eat anything from flakes to vegetables to live and frozen foods. As long as you keep their diet balanced and do not overfeed them, there should be no problems.

Where does the Striped Headstander originate?

The Striped Headstander can be found widely throughout South America, specifically in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela, where they inhabit the rocky waters of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.

Other Headstanders of interest

Spotted Headstander(Chilodus punctatus)
Date Added: 09/06/2021 14:44:13 - Updated: 17/11/2021 03:31:49