Species group: Hatchetfish
Other common names: Common Hatchetfish; Black-lined Hatchetfish; River Hatchetfish
Scientific name: Gasteropelecus sternicla
The Common Hatchetfish is small schooling fish which is native to slow moving, well vegetated waterways in the Amazon River Basin in South America. Gasteropelecus sternicla is able to leap into the air and use their pectoral fins to fly and catch insects.
The Common Hatchetfish has a convex body. The belly appears distended in a semicircle shape from the side, and the chest muscles are large. The body is very narrow from side to side. The back is straight. The pectoral fins are wing-like and transparent, covering one-half the fish's overall body length near the head. They are long and high. The ventral fins are very small. The mouth is small and upturned. This species can be distinguished by a black vertical stripe extending from the gill cover to the base of the tail fin. The coloration of the species is silver, the back being olive brown. The colors can change from iridescent green to iridescent blue, depending on the reflection of light.
The Common Hatchetfish is a fairly peaceful and calm species and thus, very suitable for community tanks. It is an active fish. Fish of this species may become aggressive sometimes. It is recommended to house them with peaceful fish of lower swimming levels. In order to avoid predators and capture insect prey, these fish swim very fast to rise out of the water and “fly” above the surface using their long pectoral fins. They are, however, schooling fish and thrive best when kept in groups.
A planted community tank is most suitable for this species. The ideal tank size is 28 inches, which can hold up to 20-25 gallons water. This species is a top dweller and usually kept in a shoal of five to six fish or more. The Common Hatchetfish is a relatively hardy fish and gets acclimatized to the tank in a short span of time. The tank has to be provided with live plants, floating plants, rocks, roots, etc. Water movement on the surface is usually gentle. The most distinguishing feature of this fish is its ability to "fly" for up to 10 feet (3.05 m). Therefore, a tight-fitting cover glass is required as the fish may jump out. A 4-6 inches gap between the water surface and the cover is also recommended.
bright silver, peaceful community fish, flashy, Easy Keepers, schooling fish, heavily planted aquarium
excellent water quality, skilled jumpers, acclimation
true surface feeders, top-level swimming fish