Marbled Hatchetfish: Tips on Care and Spawning

Marbled Hatchetfish

Powernubby.com – Marbled hatchetfish or Carnegiella strigata are a member of the family Gasteropelecidae. They are native to the Panama and most of South America. The hatchetfish derives its name from its peculiarly shaped body. Hatchetfish have an enormously enlarged sternal region. They are a smaller variety of fish reaching only about two inches long when fully grown. They have an average life expectancy of five years.

This fish is very deep-bodied with a flat dorsal contour. The colour is normally silvery purple, but this specimen is showing green background colours. A dark line runs from the eye to the caudal peduncle, below which several dark, broken lines cross the lower body. Another dark line curves up along the front of the body. Pectoral fins are very well developed, whereas the pelvic fins are hardly noticeable. Very trange fish to watch and look at.

Marbled hatchetfish prefer subdued lighting. Hatchets are surface dwellers. Most of their time is spent near the surface of the aquarium. They take readily to a heavily planted terrain. They also have an affinity for floating plants. Hornwort is a good choice if you intend to keep hatchetfish.

Beware: Marbled hatchetfish are accomplished jumpers. In nature they often jump out of the water to escape predators. They are generally considered the only true flying-fish. Hatchets have extraordinarily powerful pectoral fins. The muscles attached to these fins accounts for 1/4 of their entire body weight. They actually flap their pectoral fins to aid in their flight. The rapid beating of these fins allows them to lift their bodies half way out of the water and glide along the surface. There have been reported cases of them actually becoming airborne for short distances. Quite understandably, they should only be kept in a lidded aquarium.

Marbled hatchetfish have a docile nature. They are good community fish provided they are surrounded by species of similar temperament. You also want to avoid housing them with fish that are large enough to consider them the perfect lunch.

Marbled hatchetfish are shoaling fish. Nature didn’t intend for them to live a solitary existence. It is not uncommon for them to parish without another member of their own species. A group of 6 or 8 is ideal. Given there size, this shouldn’t present a problem even for smaller aquarium owners.

The Amazon River is slightly acidic. PH levels generally run around 6.8. The river ranges in temperatures from 76-82°. Hatchetfish will thrive under these conditions.




Marbled hatchetfish are omnivores. In nature their diet consists primarily of small insects, insect larvae and plant matter. In captivity they are not picky. A general purpose tropical fish food will suffice.

Males are more colorful than the females and typically have more markings on their bodies.

Breeding Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled hatchetfish are egg layers. They will spawn in an aquarium providing there are plenty of plants. Spawning usually occurs under the camouflage of these plants.

Once released, the eggs will adhere to the plants. The fry will hatch in about 24 hours. They will be free swimming in four to five days.

The fry are particularly small. They should be fed infusoria or a similar liquid fry food formulated for egg laying fish. When they grow a little larger their diet can be switched to newly hatched brine shrimp. Or for the sake of convenience, they can be fed small amounts of powdered eggs. In about a week you can start feeding them finely crushed fish flakes.

Read: Tips on Raising Healthy Glass Catfish

Freshwater fish are the most popular aquarium fish worldwide because of their inexpensive price and ease of care. Many aquarium owners don’t realize that there is a rather exotic alternative to freshwater fish in the realms of affordability and upkeep. Jellyfish aquariums are the hottest new trend in the aquarium industry. Jellyfish do require a special Jellyfish Aquarium Fish Tank in order to survive but they are far easier to keep alive and healthy than saltwater fish.

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