Marbled Hatchetfish Stats InfographicMarbled hatchetfish, also known as carnegiella strigata, is a delightful blackwater fish. One of the exciting things about them is that they can fly out of the water courtesy of their powerful muscles and barrel chest. With the right knowledge, marbled hatchetfish will thrive in your aquarium.

Learn all about them in this article.

Marbled Hatchetfish Stats

Lifespan 2 years
Tank Size 15 gallons
Temperature 75 to 82 F
pH 5.5-6.5
Water Hardness 2- 20dGH
Diet Omnivore

Species Overview

The Hatchetfish genus comprises three species: the Carnegiella myersi, Carnegiella strigata, and Carnegiella marthae. Of these three, the Carnegiella strigata or marbled hatchetfish is the most popular.

Marbled hatchetfish food requirementsYou can find marbled hatchet fish in marshes, brooks, flooded regions, and small rivers in South America. They are especially rife in the lower parts of the Amazon River Basin. They love to swim in the middle layer of the water, and once they sense danger, they are off to hide in the roots of plants.

Marbled hatchetfish have powerful muscles that let them “fly” in water. These powerful muscles are supported by wide fins that allow the fish to jump many meters without breaking a sweat. These muscles make up 25 percent of the hatchetfish’s weight, meaning that they have more muscles dedicated to flight than most birds.

In light of this, it is no surprise that one of their past times is jumping when in pursuit of flying insects, and because of their love for “flying,” you must ensure their tank has a tight hood.


Hatchetfish are called like this, because of their peculiar shape: on one side, they look like triangles, but from the bottom, they appear much rounded, almost like the shape of an actual hatchet. Their front view is thin and tappers into their abdomen like a wedged knife-edge.

Marbled hatchetfish have a base coloration of brown and gold with a characteristic silver sheen on top. Their back is a dark green color with several black dots of different sizes. Their flank is rife with several spots with varying hues like pink, brown, and light views. If you look closely, you will discover two dark stripes on both sides, and a silver line running from the gills to the caudal fin.


The average marbled hatchetfish size is one and a half inches, so yeah, relatively diminutive. Of course, getting them to reach this length requires providing them with high-quality food and the best care possible.


On average, marbled hatchetfish would not be with you for long. Marbled hatchetfish lifespan is only two years, and that is with proper care. So enjoy them while they are around.

Hatchetfish Species

Let’s take a look at the different types of hatchetfish out there apart from marbled hatchetfish:

1. Blackwing Hatchetfish

Blackwing hatchetfish marbled hatchetfish

The blackwing hatchetfish is the smallest hatchetfish species available. They are not as active as the other hatchet fishes and so do not require a tank with much open space. They are found in the blackwaters of Colombia and Venezuela.

Their natural habitat has many floating plants and hiding spots to give these timid fish a sense of security. You must be extra cautious when choosing tank mates for these blackwing hatchetfish because they quickly get stressed.

2. Common Hatchetfish

Common hatchetfish marbled hatchetfish

The common hatchetfish is often referred to as the silver hatchetfish. However, they are separate species. The silver hatchetfish is smaller than the Common Hatchetfish. It is found in the Amazon River Basin, West Peru, and Venezuela. Thanks to their native location in the River Basin, common hatchetfish are also referred to as the River Hatchetfish.

3. Silver Hatchetfish

Silver hatchetfish marble hatchetfish

The silver hatchetfish is the shyest hatchetfish you will ever come across. While they are smaller than common hatchetfish, they are larger than the other two species (blackwing and marbled hatchetfish). At maturity, they measure only two and a quarter inches, and with the proper care, they can live for up to three years.

Silver hatchetfish are like all the other hatchet fish. That means that they love aquariums with enough hiding places and floating plants. So if you can successfully recreate this environment, you’d have succeeded in winning half of the battle.

Marbled Hatchetfish Care

It is not so challenging to take care of marbled hatchetfish once you know the basics. First off, their tank must be sizeable, comfortable, and designed to replicate what they enjoy in the wild. Once you can set up their tank correctly, the next step is maintaining it so that you have nothing less than pristine water in your tank.

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, let’s explore how to take care of these unique blackwater fish:

Tank Size

You need at least a 15-gallon tank to raise a small school of marbled hatchet fish. If you intend to raise more than six of these fish, you will need a bigger tank. The essence of upping the tank size is so that your fish has enough space to swim. As usual, ensure that the tank comes with a tight-fitting hood.

Water Parameters

If you screw up the water parameters, your fish will deteriorate right before your eyes. So your best bet is to get it right the first time. The easiest way to achieve this is to mimic the conditions in the Marbled Hatchetfish’s natural environment.

The recommended Marbled hatchetfish temperature range is 75.0 to 82.0 F. In the wild, these fish are found in waters with slightly acidic pH, so keep the tank pH between 5.5 and 6.5. As far as hardness goes, keep the range within 2- 20dGH.

You can monitor the water parameters with an aquarium test kit. Trust us, it makes life a whole lot easier. For best results, draw up a schedule for checking the parameters and stick to it.

Water Changes

Part of maintaining the tank condition involves regular water changes. This is because, over time, waste and harmful substances like ammonia and nitrate tend to accumulate in the tank. For this reason, we advise that you do a 25 percent water change weekly or bi-weekly.

Getting a water filter is another way to ensure water quality. You can pick up a powerful one that matches your tank’s needs from the local pet store near you. You can install the filter yourself at the corners of the tank and leave them to mop up all the waste products in the tank. We recommend a peat filter.


Your choice of tank substrate is crucial because you don’t want something that would bruise your fish. Go for a soft substrate with a dark smooth surface. Darker substrates show off marbled hatchetfish colors nicely.


Since in the wild marbled hatchetfish live under the forest canopy, their tank must be dimly lit. In the cover of darkness, they are more likely to breed and spawn. You can get dimmed LED lights from stores near you and install them in your tank.

How to Decorate the Marbled Hatchetfish’s Tank

Two main things help spice up your fish tank: plants and hiding spots. You can create hiding places for your fish to feel safe with rocks, driftwood, plant roots, and many more. If you want to take it a step further, you can get caves from a pet store but be sure to disinfect everything before adding it to your established tank.

As for plants, we recommend going for those that float. Floating plants offer your tank shade and give some form of security to your fish. Another advantage of plants is that your plants can snack on them.

Marbled Hatchetfish Diet

Marbled hatchetfish water requirementsIn the wild, marbled hatchetfish feed on insects, larva, zooplankton, and other aquatic invertebrates. They are reputed for keeping the mosquito population down.

These fish eat whatever they are given. However, the duty lies on you to balance out their meals. Give them live or frozen food like Daphnia, mosquito larvae, Artemia nauplii, grindal, Drosophila fruit flies, and Moina. Another option is to fill their bellies with fish flakes and green vegetables.

Ensure that their mealtimes are regular and that their portions are light. The key is to give them bits of food they can finish in under three minutes. That way, they are not overfed and exposed to various health challenges.


Marbled hatchetfish are excellent jumpers thanks to their small size and powerful muscles. They can jump more than five feet high, and considering their diminutive size, that is no mean feat.

Aside from the fact that marbled hatchetfish are avid jumpers, they also make excellent community fish. We recommend keeping them in groups of at least six because they thrive when raised in a good-sized school and are more active.

Sadly, most marbled hatchetfish lose their ability to jump high in captivity. It’s so bad that they won’t even leap when startled in the tank. There’s something about keeping them confined that strips them of their beautiful abilities.

Marbled Hatchetfish Tank Mates

We have already established that marbled Hhtchetfish are shoaling fish, so that means they favor being kept in schools of at least six fishes. The problem for most people is selecting suitable tank mates.

Marbled hatchetfish compatibility gives you a heads up on the burden of selecting suitable tank mates. The first rule is to avoid aggressive fish species like large bottom-dwelling tetras and cichlids away from their tank because your marbled hatchetfish may not survive a run-in with them.

Our firm advice would be to work with fish with a similar temperament as the marbled hatchetfish. But before you add just any docile fish species, ensure that its water parameters and needs are close to those of the marbled hatchetfish. One more thing, the fish you choose should not be larger than the marbled hatchetfish.

Suitable marbled hatchetfish tank mates include:

Bonus Tip

In case you didn’t notice, we highlighted fish that are small, non-aggressive, share similar water parameters as the Marbled hatchetfish, and most importantly, don’t occupy the top layer of the water tank. You should also avoid mixing them with active and energetic fish, which would stress them out. One more thing, don’t place them in the same tank as overly active fish species.

Marbled Hatchetfish Breeding

Freshwater marbled hatchetfish are egg layers that scatter their eggs on the roots of the plants in their tank. However, you may never get them to breed if you don’t condition them correctly. So stop beating around the bush and get down to the business of conditioning these fishes.

How to Condition Marbled Hatchetfish for Breeding

Start with getting a tank large enough to cater to all of the jumps these fish get up to. We recommend at least a 10-gallon tank. Next, get the water parameters down to a tee because these fish would never breed without the suitable water parameters and quality.

The tank water must be soft, warm (temperature around 76 to 79 F), and slightly acidic with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Warmer waters stimulate them to spawn. Also, because marbled hatchetfish are black water fish, adding peat to their tank water will make a world of difference in softening the water. Be sure to use a tank water test kit regularly to check the water parameters so that you don’t go off track.

Use gravel to line the base of the tank and add floating plants. These plants serve as the spawning spot for your fish. Ensure that the plant doesn’t have any snails because snails love to feast on marbled hatchetfish eggs. A sponge filter is also not a bad idea as it will filter off the waste and give your tank a gentle flow.

Once their tank has been set up and adequately cycled, you can move your breeding pairs into the tank and feed them a diet rich in protein. Great options include insects, blood worms, and crustaceans. For best results, move at least two mature Marbled Hatchetfish pairs into the tank.


After proper conditioning, the male marbled hatchetfish begins to chase the female in a frenzied mating dance. And once he gets the female to accept his proposal, she scatters her sticky eggs all over the roots and leaves of your floating plants.

Once the eggs have been spawn, you must remove the parent fish from the tank. If you don’t, they will eat the eggs. While you are at it, take out all the unfertilized eggs from the tank so that they do not compromise the water quality. In about 24 to 36 hours, the eggs will hatch, and for the first few days, they will feed on the egg sac.

Feeding Marbled Hatchetfish Fry

For normal marbled hatchetfish growth rate, start feeding your fry infusoria, baby brine shrimp, and micro worm two days after they hatch. Ensure that the meals are regular and in portions small enough for them to finish in a few minutes. This is important for your fish to experience the normal marbled hatchetfish growth rate.

Six Ways to Keep Marbled Hatchetfish Healthy

The best way to increase the lifespan of your hatchetfish is to keep them healthy. One way is to keep their tank clean and free from harmful chemicals and rid your fish of stress.

The best way to ensure your fish remains healthy is to:

  • Keep the tank water pristine
  • Ensure the tank has enough hiding spots
  • Disinfect every instrument thoroughly before adding it to the tank
  • Isolate fish before adding them to your established tank
  • Only introduce fish to properly cycled tank
  • Choose compatible tank mates for them

Follow those tips, and you don’t have to fear your fish coming down with any common freshwater fish disease.

Common Freshwater Diseases That Affect Marbled Hatchetfish

There are days when it seems everything goes south. And on one of those days, your fish may wind up with any one of these common freshwater diseases.


HLLE is short for Head and Lateral Line Erosion and is also commonly known as Hole-In-Head Disease. Fish with this disease show signs of deteriorating flesh. Deep holes and peaks appear all over their head and body, causing immense discomfort. One way to tackle this disease is to fix your water parameters and quality.


Ich is another disease you should keep an eye out for. One of its symptoms is the appearance of white spots all over the fish’s fin and body. The lesions can even show up on their gill covers and mouth. A simple copper OTC will wipe out Ich if administered on time.


Lymphocystis is a common freshwater disease that looks like Ich but isn’t Ich. It affects the connective tissue of the fish and results from poor water conditions and high levels of stress. Low oxygen levels in your tank can also be responsible for this disease. So, make the necessary adjustments in the water parameters and monitor them regularly.


How to take care of marbled hatchetfishLet’s take a quick look at every important detail we have coerced about the marbled hatchetfish:

  • Marbled hatchetfish is a unique fish with powerful muscles
  • They are tiny and have a very short lifespan
  • Marbled hatchetfish favor tanks with lots of hiding spots and floating plants
  • They love jumping, so make sure that your tank has a tight lid
  • Marbled hatchetfish prefer breeding and spawning in the dark, so you should make use of LED lights
  • Remove the parent fish from the tank when the female has laid eggs because the parent fish will eat them
  • Make sure you take all the appropriate sanitary precautions so your fish doesn’t catch any diseases.

Once you know the basics about caring for marbled hatchetfish, you can go ahead and get one for yourself. This guide will surely become your perfect companion all through their short life.

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