Three-Lined Pencilfish

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Species group:

Other common names: Three-banded Pencilfish; Three-Striped Pencilfish

Scientific name: Nannostomus trifasciatus

The basics:
These fish can sometimes be seen swimming on their heads.

The Three-Lined Pencilfish has an elongated body and its snout ends in a point. The fish is named because of the presence of three horizontal lines across its body. The first line is just below the dorsal fin, the second extends from the tip of the snout to the tail, and the third is from the pelvic to the anal fins. The lower parts of the fins are a bright red color while the upper parts are almost transparent.

0-2 inches

The Three-Lined Pencilfish is an extremely peaceful fish and can be kept in a tank in groups of 4 or more. Its non-aggressive nature makes it an ideal tank mate in a community tank setup. Ideal tank mates are other peaceful fishes of similar size. They tend to become shy around larger fish and may be victims of bullying.

This fish requires a minimum tank size of 20 inches. It is a bottom dwelling fish and prefers a dark colored substrate like peat moss as part of the gravel layering the tank bottom. Floating plants help minimize the amount of light reaching the bottom of the tank. Plants in the tank will be good places to hide among. Additional hiding places can be provided in the form of driftwood and some rocks.

73.00-84.00 °F


7.100-85.700 mg/L


entertaining, interesting fish, great dither fish, charming little fish, easy community fish


nice filler, small little fish, blue light bulb, bluespectrum lamp, dark waters

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