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Hatchets or Pencils?

Discussion in 'South American Tank Mates' started by Drayden Farci, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci New Member

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    I've got a 55 gallon Peruvian tank with Petitella georgiae, Hemigrammus rodwayi, Corydoras trilineatus, Otocinclus macrospilus, and Apistogramma eremnopyge. My shop finally got in Nannostomus eques from Peru, which I've been waiting on for a while, but they also received Carnegiella myersi, the Pygmy Hatchetfish.

    I've only had Hatchets once - I had 6 in my 55 before it became a biotope. Though there were sporadic floating plants, I eventually lost 3 to jumping and 3 others lived a while longer before dying (unknown causes). I love the look and behavior, but I don't want to throw away another $20 on a group if they'll eventually let me down.

    Anyone have experience with either fish, especially with pictures? Do the little Hatchets jump in your tanks, or are you a lucky one? Were your Pencilfish shy around more "active" tetras (loose term, they aren't rambunctious, just more active than a Pencilfish!)? What is your opinion?
  2. Bart Hazes

    Bart Hazes Member

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    I have a school of N. eques and they are my most timid pencilfish out of 7 species. They also show a much more schooling behaviour than the others. They are in a tank with apistos and corydoras and that works well but I need to feed the N. eques with a turkey baster to make sure they get their share. I also often have some left-over baby brine shrimp which they love. I would say get them if you are interested in them as their own species, not just as dithers. If you just want dithers N. marginatus, N. beckfordi, or N. harrisoni are more lively and assertive and still won't bother the fry.
  3. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci New Member

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    I don't want them as dithers, just as added community fish for my tank. I'm definitely interested in them because I know they have more schooling behavior, and I'd hope that they would be able to hang in the corners of the tanks and not be bothered by the other fish. Feeding might be a problem unfortunately, so I'd have to figure out the right amount.
  4. Bart Hazes

    Bart Hazes Member

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    Feed most fish routinely in one corner and as all the fast feeders move to that spot to feed give a smaller amount in the other corner for the N. eques. Mine like frozen brine shrimp, Hikari micropellets (all pencilfish and tetras love them), and live baby brine shrimp.
    dw1305 likes this.
  5. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci New Member

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    Awesome advice. Got any pictures of the group? Where I work, they never get their true colors because of the nature of the tank they are in unfortunately.
  6. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    Nannostomus eques is pretty sedentary, although you get a lot of group interaction when they are happy. Nannostomus marginatus are much more active.

    I haven't kept Carnegiella myersi, but I have kept C. strigata, and I would say that a lid is absolutely essential.

    Personally I wouldn't embark on keeping Hatchetfish without a vestigial winged fruit-fly culture. You can feed them mosquito larvae and aphids in the summer, but they will lose condition in the winter if you don't have live food for them.

    I never got mine to spawn successfully, although they did you mating behaviour (a long sprint along the water surface as a pair).
    Nannostomus eques and N. marginatus are good, I haven't kept N. harrisoni, but Nannostomus beckfordi definitely isn't fry safe.

    cheers Darrel
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  7. Bart Hazes

    Bart Hazes Member

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    If N. beckfordi is not fry safe then that probably also applies to N. harrisoni, though beckfordi is the fastest pencilfish I have. However, if you have good parents then they will protect their fry from many fish, even 10-15cm predators like geophagus or Hemiodus tetra, although you may lose half of the offspring. I'm currently raising a spawn of 50 A. norberti fry in a community tank with N. harrisoni, N. mortenthaleri, Pyrrhulina tetras, darters and 14 other apistogramma (pantalone, panduro, and other norberti males). I don't think I lost a single fry because both parents clear a wide perimeter around the fry. Of course that only works in larger tanks (120x60x30) with adequate hiding places. The panduros spawned in the same tank while the norberti were still guarding their fry and most of that spawn became snacks.
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  8. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci New Member

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    Interesting feedback - thanks! I think I'll forego the Hatchets this time. I really want them, but I also don't have patience for more jumping fish in my life (school of Jellybean Tetras escaping through a 1x1 inch gap near the filter intake that I covered with tape but not well enough).

    When I had a pair of A. macmasteri in my 55, the 8 Rummynose Tetras took care of the fry pretty much every time. The poor female would guard them, but eventually they swam more into the middle of the tank. I assume the Peruvian Rummynose will behave similarly if my A. eremnopyge ever spawn, so fry-safe dithers aren't necessary. I prefer the slanted swimming angle of the N. eques and their dark brown tails, and if they are sedentary in the top corners of the tank, I think they'll be what I want. I just want to be cautious and not have them be overwhelmed by the other fish to the point of stress.
  9. Shane Puthuparambil

    Shane Puthuparambil Member

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    I think that N. eques still jumps, so I would still get a pretty tight lid! And many floaters, so they are more comfortable!
  10. Bart Hazes

    Bart Hazes Member

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    For what it's worth, my N. eques have never jumped and of the about 100 pencilfish over 6 or 7 species maybe one has ever jumped my lid-less tanks. But I do have a virtually 100% cover of floating plants in most tanks.
  11. Shane Puthuparambil

    Shane Puthuparambil Member

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    Same.

    In usen heavy plant cover as my lid.
  12. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci New Member

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    I've heard both about Pencils, so that's also kind of why I asked. They are extremely fast when they want to be, but normally they are fairly docile. I do think N. eques and N. unifasciatus have a slight reputation for jumping...

    Either way, I brought 11 Peruvian N. eques home last Friday. They assimilated perfectly into my tank from what I can tell. They school together and stroll the upper reaches of the tank. I'm also glad that they appear to be able to eat even half-crumpled pieces of flake, so I shouldn't have to force feed them.

    Here are pictures of the tank and the fish. The floaters are mostly Red Root but a little frogbit as well. It seems to be multiplying at a decent rate, so hopefully in a few weeks I'll have full coverage and begin getting rid of the RRF.

    Attached Files:

  13. ButtNekkid

    ButtNekkid Active Member

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    That´s a beautiful tank! I think they will forget all the escape plans!

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