Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Carnegiella strigata

Marbled hatchetfish

Marbled hatchetfish, Carnegiella strigataMarbled hatchetfish, Carnegiella strigata
Photos by Andy Rapson


Carnegiella: After Miss Margaret Carnegie, referring to the grace of the fish.

General Notes:

All hatchetfish are quite nervous especially when first introduced to a new aquarium and the marbled hatchetfish is no exception. Hatchetfish escape from their predators by jumping out of the water and landing some distance from their take off point. In captivity they retain this instinct and will jump every time something startles them or if a larger fish which they see as a threat comes to close. Because of this they must be kept well covered or they will end up on the floor!!! Hatchetfish are best kept in a shoal of at least six individuals, this will help to reassure them and they will be less nervous as a result. They will usually stay right on the surface which can add a lot of interest in that region because few other fish stay so high up in the aquarium. A few floating plants such as Indian fern will give them somewhere to hide and make jumping less of a problem. Apart from the jumping issue hatchetfish are good community fish which are normally very peaceful.


Wild hatchetfish feeds on crustaceans and insects, in captivity they are quite unfussy and will accept flake, granular, frozen and live food. Use a varied diet and include live or frozen food on a regular basis. Small terrestrial insects such as fruit flies (which are easy to culture) make a great addition to their diet


Females are said to have deeper bodies than the males but side by side comparison of the fish when adult is probably the most reliable method to tell the sexes apart.


Hatchetfish can be done but as with the majority of characins they don't spawn to readily in captivity. The eggs fall to the floor and hatch after 36 hours at 25°C. Don't expose the eggs or fry to bright light and once free swimming feed them with a liquid fry food or from an infusoria culture until they are big enough to take freshly hatched brine shrimps.

Wild status

The status of wild populations has not been evaluated.

Information at a glance

pH: 5 - 8
dGH: 5 - 19
Temperature: 24 - 28°C (75 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 3.5cm (1.5in)
Min tank size: 100 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Surface

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Marbled hatchetfish, Carnegiella strigata

Origin: South America: Lower, middle and upper Amazon River basin; south of Amazon; and Caqueta River in Colombia

Habitat: Rivers and streams with heavy surface vegetation


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Gasteropelecidae
Genus: Carnegiella
Species: C. strigata (Günther, 1864)

Common name:
Marbled hatchetfish

Synonyms: Carnegiella strigata surinamensis, Carnegiella strigata marowini, Carnegiella vesca. Carnegiella strigata vesca, Carnegiella strigata fasciata, Gasteropelecus fasciatus, Carnegiella strigata strigata, Gasteropelecus strigatus