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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Tetras > Silver Hatchet
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America


Silver hatchet

Gasteropelecus sternicla


    Just like the Marbled hatchet no other fish has quite the same look. Sometimes racing around the aquarium and other times remaining motionless but Always hanging around the surface, they will make a fine and interesting addition to any community set up.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 2 1/2 inches (6.5 cm)
    Tank: 24 inches
    Strata: Top
    PH: 5.5 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to medium dH range 5-15
    Temperature: 75 to 82°F (24-28°;C)


    Order: Cypriniformes
    Suborder: Characoidei
    Family: Gasteropelecidae
    Genera: Sternicla

Gasteropelecus sternicla

Common name:

    Silver Hatchet, Common Hatchetfish

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Widely found throughout Amazon River basin, Peruvian Amazon, middle Amazon, the Guianas and Venezuela.

General Body Form:
    Not your typical fish shape. The belly profile from the small ventral fins to the start of the tail fin is almost a straight line. The Dorsal profile is somewhat convex. The Dorsal fin itself is far back very close to the tail. The Pectoral (side) fins are half as long as the body, turned upward and face back which give them the look of wings. They have no Adipose fins.

    Not one of the most colorful fish, the base color of the fish is Silver with hints of Yellow or Green. Starting near the gills there is a long stripe that extends to the base of the tail fin, it is also yellow or green in color. The fins are transparent with a slight Golden hue to them.

    These Hatchets must be kept in schools of at least six or they seem to decline and have a much shorter lifespan. They are excellent jumpers so make sure you have a tight fitting cover with as few gaps as possible. They will do well in a community aquarium that has good filtration and a current that runs the length of the tank to simulate a stream. Floating plants as well as driftwood and open areas for swimming are needed. Their diet should ideally consist of live mosquito larvae and fruit flies although the freeze dried kind are also taken. They will also eat the standard flake food. Remember they jump!

    Heavy vegetated, shaded, slow moving streams or still water swamps

    No external differences between the sexes are apparent, although the females are larger and generally more rounded in the body and sometimes the eggs can be seen in the body cavity. They have been reports of breeding in the home aquarium. The prospective pair should be well conditioned with a diet of Black mosquito larvae and other small Crustaceans. They deposit their eggs on the floating plants and they hatch in about thirty hours. The fry are very small and have to be feed very fine foods like Infusoria, baby brine and crushed flakes.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Ronald Nichols
I have a school of 15 of these beautiful amazon fish. They are with cardinal tetras and are peaceful tankmates. They like tetra min flakes and Hicari micro pellets both are floating foods. I offer them live mosquito larvae which they love...I keep a pond in my backyard where I find the larvae. They like peat which softens the water. I filter their water through a solid carbon filter that I got from but when I get rain water I use that as it is slightly acidic. I collect it in buckets in the winter when it rains here. Be careful to keep the tank covered as they will jump out when startled! And don't turn on lights suddenly @ night because they can injure themselves by crashing into the side of the tank. They seem to prefer a school of at least 10. they are a sight to behold.

From: Joe
I recently got 3 hatchetfish. They are amazing little fish, and they can leap out of any uncovered aquarium. Two of mine jumped out of my uncovered (at the moment) aquarium. After I finally got the cover I knew that the only little hatchetfish in there would be lonely, so I got 3 more. I am hoping to buy a few more of them. I feed them tropical fish flakes and mosquito larvae. My tank is about 40 gallons and is well planted with amazon and argentine swords and a few other plants, and my hatchet fish are kept with a bumblebee catfish, a corydora and a Jack Dempsey Cichlid. Thanks for all the info on these amazing fish!
From: Khaled
The silver Hatchet is a very unique and oddly shaped fish, it is a perfect addition to any community tank set-up. The shape of the hatchet is mainly to jump out of the water at high speed and escape from predators in the wild, and they will do the same in the fish tank to escape from bullies or danger. My silver hatchet is very peaceful an non-active fish, the one thing that the fish dealer didn't tell me is that the should be in a group of 6 or more to be happy, active,comfortable, and a longer life span, and that's what I did, my fish seem pretty happy in a group of 4, overall it is an excellent addition to my collection of fish and would for any other.
From: Sara
Although they are very interesting and cute to watch, these fish cause nothing but frustration. They have a very, very bad habit of jumping out of my tank- even when it is fully covered. So far, I have had 5 separate counts of hatchetfish suicide. No matter how perfect the water parameters in my tank are, no matter what fish I put in with them, and no matter how well they are fed, my hatchetfish manage to end up dead on my floor. I just don't understand it: they are peaceful, relatively easy to care for, and hardy fish. Why do they insist on killing themselves? WHY!?





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