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Fish of the Month
Issue: August 2008

Carnegiella strigata

G√úNTHER 1864

FOTM 0808

Oliver Lucanus

Common Names: Marble hatchetfish, marbled hatchetfish

Type Locality: None

Range: Widespread throughout the Amazon drainage and Caqueta River in Colombia

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Gasteropelecus strigatus.

Size: 3.5 cm TL (1.4 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical; it is highly adaptable to varied water chemistries, as is typical with fish that have a very wide distribution.

Difficulty: Not as hardy as many other popular species, this fish is suited for an intermediate or advanced aquarist. It is especially susceptible to ich. As almost all specimens are wild caught, proper quarantine is an absolute must.

Tank Setup: The tank should be short and long so that the use of space can be maximized. This fish does not leave the top level, and because it is an active swimmer and jumper, the tank cover should have no openings. Floating plants will comfort these nervous fish, w

Feeding: Its natural diet is small invertebrates, particularly insects that fall onto the water surface, as well as insects in flight. In the aquarium, they will take most live, frozen, and prepared foods as long as they float, or may take them as they begin to si

Breeding: It has been accomplished, though not commercially. They require soft, acidic water and plenty of live insects for conditioning. Parents should be removed after spawning. The fry require the smallest of live foods.

Description: The triangular body is golden silver, with a light stripe from head to tail and dark brown marbling over the body. There is no sexual dimorphism. Skittish under the best of circumstances, these fish must be kept in schools of at least six individuals in order to thrive.

Notes: The unique hatchet shape of this species and its close relatives give them perennial appeal. Since they almost never descend from the surface, they are very useful in procuring interest within aquascapes that are dominated by bottom and midwater dwellers. Hatchetfish are the only true flying fish; they have large pectoral muscles that power the wing-like pectoral fins, allowing actual flight. The entire school will take to the air to avoid predation, but flying is used mainly to capture prey in clouds of insects that come near the water surface. This behavior takes place most commonly at dawn and dusk.

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