Dropping the Hatchet: The Marbled Hatchetfish

A school of Two Marbled Hatchetfish

Image: tropicalfishkeeping.com

Do you ever look in the mirror and think that you might be developing a bit of a belly? Well, how do you think the hatchetfish feels?

Aquarium owners tend to be attracted to the hatchet fish’s weird shape, but that’s not actually the neatest thing about these tiny Amazonian fish. Believe it or not, they’re one of the few species of fish that can actually achieve flight. And I don’t just mean that they jump up out of the water like dolphins, I mean that they actually fly. They flap their tiny little pectoral fins and can hit heights of several meters.


Like all hatchetfish, the Marbled Hatchetfish is a ray-finned fish that has a peculiar hatchet shape. Their coloration tends to be a pattern of gray and black that resembles, well, marble. It’s pretty much all right there in the name, isn’t it?

The Speckled Pattern of the Marbled Hatchetfish

Image: mahieman.com

The Species

For the more scientifically inclined aquarium hobbyists out there, the official name of this speckled species is Carnegiella Strigata. It hails from the Amazon River, so it feels most at home in soft, acidic water. It might also feel a bit more at home if you only spoke Spanish to it, but it’s not really necessary.

Three Marblefish Lounging Near the Water's Surface

Image: flicr.com

Caring for the Marbled Hatchetfish

The single most important thing with Marbled Hatchetfish is to keep a tight, secured lid on your aquarium. They will attempt to fly away when startled, so you might come home from work to find that your fish have committed mass suicide by leaping to your living room floor. As you might expect, flying fish like to dwell near the top of the tank, so don’t fill your aquarium with a bunch of surface-level swimmers. Give them some tall, leafy plants to hide in with three or four of their buddies, and they’ll be happier than pigs in mud. Well, maybe not that happy. Hatchetfish are known to be difficult to breed.

The Hatchetfish Likes to Travel in Schools of Three

Image: zafact.blogspot.com


As omnivores, Marbled Hatchetfish eat just about anything. You could give them live or frozen food, and either vegetables or meat. One thing that is absolutely critical to remember, though, is that Hatchetfish will only feed on food at the top of the tank. If your fish food sinks, they’d rather starve then make the trip to the gravel (I guess they’re just stuck up that way). Be sure to get plenty of floating grub for these high-flying fish. Also, don’t be terribly surprised if they avoid the food when you first put it into the tank. Despite their somewhat intimidating name, hey can be fairly cautious in new environments.


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