The spotted hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus maculatus) is a small fish found on the Pacific slopes of Panama, and in the Pacific and Atlantic drainages of Colombia, to the Maracaibo basin of Venezuela.
The spotted hatchetfish grows to an adult size of up to 2.5 inches long. Like all hatchetfish, they have a keeled body shape and an enlarged, highly developed pectoral fin musculature attached to the sternum that resembles the head of a hatchet, hence the common name. The ventral fins are very small and the back is fairly straight. Their wing like pectoral fins are transparent and often measure up to one half of the overall body length of the fish.
All freshwater hatchetfish are known for their ability to leap from the water and glide several yards to escape predation and catch flying insects close to the surface. For this reason, a secure lid is a must.
The spotted hatchetfish should be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger. Lighting should be subdued and water flow should be moderate. The addition of a dark substrate (CS6631) and floating plants, and leaf litter (CS706) is also recommended.
The spotted hatchetfish prefers a water temperature of 73°F to 82°F, a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and a hardness of 2 to 15°H.
The spotted hatchetfish is a very peaceful fish and an excellent choice for a community aquarium. Keep a group of at least six individuals and choose other peaceful species as tank mates. Good choices include many tetras, smaller plecos, cory cats and smaller bottom dwelling cichlids such as checkerboards and apistogrammas.
Spotted hatchetfish will usually accept dry foods, especially flakes (AL165) and micropellets (HIK4641). Vary their diet with plenty of frozen foods. Probiotics (AL169) will also improve overall health and longevity.