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This is a discussion on Hatchetfish within the Characins forums, part of the Freshwater and Tropical Fish category; --> I've decided to add some Hatchetfish to my aquarium. I've done the research, read up on them, but now I'd like some firsthand advice ...

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Old 04-30-2007, 10:45 AM   #1
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I've decided to add some Hatchetfish to my aquarium. I've done the research, read up on them, but now I'd like some firsthand advice from actual owners.

I understand they have a tendency to jump. I'm not concerned about them escaping when I'm not there, since my tank is peaceful and there are no immediate threats, and my hood is secured with no places to really escape out of. I'm worried that during my water changes, when the hood is OFF, one of them will jump out as I'm siphoning water, getting a new bucket full or whatever. How easily are these fish startled into jumping, and how powerful are the jumps?

How many should I get? I understand at least 4 or 5 to make them feel safe, but is that all? Are they fragile fish? Fussy? I understand they bicker amongst themselves but not to the point where they hurt eachother, right?

Regarding shelter. Being top dwellers there aren't many spots for them to hide and feel secure in (which adds to my concern about them panicking and trying to jump out when opportunity presents itself). I HAVE, however, recently fastened a bunch of plastic plants to the hood with a bit of fishing line, which is JUST long enough to allow the plants to float on the surface but remain stationary so as not to float around the top freely. Is this adequate? These bunches are on both ends of the tank. Plastic plants too.

Would you say my tank is suitable for 4 or 5 Hatchetfish? Any other suggestions?

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Old 04-30-2007, 11:46 AM   #2
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I suggest keeping 8 as the minimum number. They do have a tendency to jump out of your tank if surprised or feel threatened. Hatchets do not try to damage each other but are known to be quite prone to ich if stressed. Ich, however as a side note, will not happen unless introduced via unquarantined specimens.

You'll need plenty of floating plants. In ther habitat, they need floating plants as shelter.
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:37 PM   #3
Re: Hatchetfish

Originally Posted by MattD
but now I'd like some firsthand advice from actual owners.
Any other suggestions?
My only suggestion is do not buy any.

I purchased 7 Marthae hatchets.

They were the least hardy, least active (except for the Plecs) and most stupid fish in my tank.

They all died from something (the bodies appeared normal) or swam into the weir slots and "wound up" on the mechanical filtration media (they were all gone within a 60 day period).

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Old 04-30-2007, 12:40 PM   #4
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actually hatchet fish (specifically those from the genuses Carnegiella, Thoracocharax & Gasteropelecus) can fly, rather than jump.

flights have been recorded for
Carnegiella marthae (5 feet)
Carnegiella strigata strigata (10 feet)
Gasteropelecus maculatus (12 feet)
Gasteropelecus sternicla (10 feet)
Thoracocharax securis (9 feet)
they acheive this great feat by rapidly beating their pectoral fins.

not a great flight by bird standards but enough of a concern for aquarists.

as long as the tank has a well fitting lid, preferably with glass sliding covers,
then there should be no accidents. keep in mind the hatchets ability at all times, especially at matainence time and you should be fine.
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:49 PM   #5
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I've got 4 Common Hatchets in my tank. 3 of them tend to school and 1 hangs out by himself. I've never seen them try to leap out of the tank, but I also notice that they are less active during the day. When I turn out the tank lights in the evening, they get more active and start flying around the tank. You should make sure the tank is established before adding them. As for aggressive, mine "nip" at each other, but nothing aggressive, looks more like games as they run around playing tag or what not.
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Old 04-30-2007, 01:44 PM   #6
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Hmmm, doesn't sound like I'd want them if they're prone to ich. They jump distances that great?. I think I'm going to reconsider then. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 05-01-2007, 04:30 AM   #7
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ive got 3 silver hatchetts and have had them about a month. i think they r amazing fish. they r very entertaining and constantly chase each other around. they eat well and have never tried to jump out
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:11 AM   #8
I have six common hatchets in a 190 litre corner bow front. They are great fish, very active and playful. I too had read that they were quite sensitive, but maybe this just applies to certain species. Mine are very hardy and voracious feeders, having no issues with pecking at my hand at feeding time.

As for cleaning the aquarium, at these times they just tend to group together towards the back of the tank until I've finished. I've never had a problem with them jumping, but then again I try not to leave the tank unattended with the lid open.

I would highly recommend hatchets as an interesting addition to the upper levels of a community aquarium.
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:13 AM   #9
jones57742, I'm not familar with the marthae hatchet. Perhaps they are more problematic that common or silver hatchets?
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