Species group: Dartfsh and Firefish
Other common names: Helfrich’s Dartfish, Helfrich’s Firefish
Scientific name: Nemateleotris helfrichi
The Helfrichi Firefish is on the “must have” list of aquarists worldwide…and its price reflects that! Its pastel coloration must be seen to be believed, and is even more surprising given that adults top out at a mere 3 inches in length.
The Helfrichi Firefish is found throughout the Indo-Pacific Region, where it lives along rock ledges and coral reefs.
Appearance / health:
The 7.6 cm (3 in) body is quite slim, and colored in beautiful pastel shades of yellow, cream and purple. The elongated dorsal fin is often in motion, as if to draw even more attention to its coloration!
Helfrichi Firefish are very hardy when given proper care. They rarely stray far from favored shelters to feed, and so may not get enough to eat if housed with bolder species.
Behavior / temperament:
Helfrichi Firefish are very active, continually searching caves and crevices for their next meal. They are quite territorial and are best housed in compatible pairs rather than groups, but usually get along well with non-aggressive fishes and invertebrates. These tiny fish are high-strung and easily stressed, and will not thrive in bare aquariums.
The Helfrichi Firefish requires a well-cycled aquarium that is stocked with rock/coral caves and other hiding places. Live sand and live rock, which will provide the micro-organisms they relish, make the best substrates. Firefish are accomplished jumpers, so all openings in the hood must be secured.
The following water quality parameters should be maintained for Helfrichi Firefish: Temperature: 22-25.5 C (72-78 F); Specific Gravity (Salinity): 1.020-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4.
The diet should include finely-chopped prawn, clams, and other meaty foods, live and frozen rotifers, cyclops, Mysis and brine shrimp, and flakes/pellets formulated for carnivorous marine fishes.
Within the Dartfish/Firefish family, only the Zebra Dartfish has been induced to spawn in captivity. Sadly, the minute fry have not yet been reared successfully.
Written by Frank Indiviglio