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Spotted Hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus maculatus)

Spotted Hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus maculatus)
Name: Spotted Hatchetfish
Scientific Name: Gasteropelecus maculatus
Family: Gastropelecidae

Distribution: Eastern Panama to Western Colombia
Length: 3.5" in the aquarium (2.5" in the wild)
Diet: Insects, worms and crustaceans resting on or flying above the water in the wild. Live foods and high-protein flakes and pellets in captivity.
Water Temperature: 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23-28 degrees Celsius)
Water Chemistry: Slightly soft to moderately hard
pH: 6-7
Lifespan: 5 years


Species Description These are convex silvery fish with straight khaki-colored backs and lateral compression. The ventral fins are small but the pectoral fins are very long and transparent. They work like wings for gliding purposes. They have a small upturned mouth (which shows that they eat small foods from the surface). They are dotted with small black spots.

Species Behaviour Have the tank fully-covered! These fishes are quite nervous and great jumpers. Innumerable hatchetfishes have jumped to their deaths because of nervousness (or ostensibly because they are trying to prey upon terrestrial insects).

They are peaceful yet active and do best in the company of conspecifics. A shoal of six or more will make them somewhat calmer but they should still be kept as if they will jump at any moment.

Natural Conditions Stagnant waters

Natural Range Eastern Panama to Western Colombia

Minimum recommended tank size 30 gallons

Water Temperature 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23-28 degrees Celsius)

Water Quality Water should be acidic or neutral (pH between 6.0 and 7.0) and slightly soft to moderately hard.

Sexing Females are a little bit plumper when breeding is imminent.

Breeding While difficult to do, breeding can be accomplished in home aquaria.

They will spawn among floating plants. Parents should be removed after spawning as they will eat eggs and fry.

Fry may be raised on infusoria/green water at the start and will then graduate to baby brine shrimp and Daphnia ssp. water fleas.

Feeding Insects resting on or flying above the water in the wild. Live foods and high-protein flakes and pellets in captivity.

Miscellaneous Info The original combination is the one used in science today. Others have tried to put G. maculatus in Thoracocharax, the genus in which all junior synonyms reside (T. maculatus, T. m. magdalenae, T. brevis).

While these breed like Carnegiella strigata, they don't breed quite as easily.
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