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CHARACINS

By Rhett Butler


LEBIASINIDAE FAMILY
The Lebiasinidae Family is found throughout South America and is made up of the genera, Copella, Nannobrycon, Nannostomus, and Pyrrhulina.

SIZE : The Lebiasinidae Family includes mostly small to medium sized fish, usually not more than 5".
S: The fish of this family usually swim in the middle to upper water levels.
TANK : The tank should be at least 20" (50 cm) long or 10 gallons (38 l).  Most need well-maintained water free of nitrates and nitrites.  The tank should be arranged in dark colors and have floating plants to diffuse the light.
WATER : These fish can tolerate a pH from 5.5-7.5, but prefer slightly acidic water. They prefer soft water ranging from 1-10 dH, and require a temperature of 72-82°F (22-28°C).
SB : The Lebiasinidae Family are peaceful, timid fish that can be combined in a community tank with other small, calm fish. During the day they hide, but at dusk they become active, and search for food.
SC : Tetras, Corydoras, Loricarids, Killifish, Apistogramma .
FOOD : Small live, dry, and frozen foods are recommended. These fish should be fed in the evening.
B : A breeding tank with a single pair is recommended. A mesh netting or a substrate of layered marbles should be used, for these fish will eat the eggs and young. Best results are accomplished when the pair is removed after eggs are laid. The water should be soft, around 1-3 dH, while the pH should be around 5.7-6.0. Feeding the pair Drosophila or black mosquito larvae may help stimulate spawning. The number of eggs produced varies greatly on the species; laying between 1 and 100. The eggs fall to the bottom or stick to plants and hatch, depending on the species, in 1-4 days.
BP : Fairly difficult. Spawning is often hard to initiate.
R : The coloring of many of these fish changes radically from day to night.
DC : These fish in this family need to be kept on a regime of constant water changes.  They are somewhat sensitive to changing water conditions and water pollutants.
 
Splash Tetra, Jumping Characin, Spraying Tetra [
Copella arnoldi
SYN : Copeinaarnoldi
PD : The Splash Tetra has an elongated body.  The body color is olive green to brown and the belly is white. A stripe, slightly darker than the body color, extends from the gill cover to the caudal fin.  A thin copper-colored line runs right above the darker band.  A black band extends from the snout, through the eye, and to the gill cover. In favorable water conditions, the upper half of the iris will develop an iridescent  orange color. 
SIZE : Males to 3.5" (9 cm), females to 2.8" (7 cm)
SS : Plain Copella ( Copella nattereri ), Half-striped Pyrrhulina ( Pyrrhulina laeta )
HAB : Near the banks of slow-moving rivers with heavy vegetation.  South America; in Guyana, and the Rio Para.
S: middle, top
TANK : 20" (60 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L).  The tank should be well-planted and have a cover of floating plants. Position the tank in a place where it will receive morning sunlight.  Use a tight-fitting cover as this fish is a jumper.
WATER : pH 6.5-7.5 (6.8), 2-12 dH (6), 77-84°F (25-29°C)
SB : A peaceful fish that can be kept in pairs or schools.  Does well in a community tank.
SC : Tetras, Corydoras, Loricarids, Killifish, Apistogramma .
FOOD : Live, small flying insects, insect larvae, brine shrimp; flakes.
SEX: The males are more colorful, larger, and have more elaborate fins.
B : This species is popular because of its peculiar spawning habits.  This fish can be bred in small tanks(16" or 5 gallons). The water should be soft and slightly acidic, with the water level several inches lower than normal (4-8"). The pair should be fed live foods, such as those suggested in the introduction of this genus. The pair will jump against an overhanging leaf or the tank glass, and press their bodies together.  About 8-10 eggs are laid on the object. This process is repeated until 150-200 eggs are laid.  The male engage in brood care by splashing water on the eggs every 10-15 minutes. After 30-40 hours the eggs hatch and the fry drop into the water.  The parents should be removed at this time. The fry are very small and should be fed small live foods.  This spawning habit most likely developed from a large amount of predators that can be found in this fish's natural habitat. The eggs are sometimes laid on the underside of the tank lid.
BP : 6. Breeding is fairly easy in a properly, set-up breeding tank. 
R : Does best when regular water changes are performed. 
DC : 3. A hardy fish whose colors will only fully develop in a well-maintained tank.
 
Golden Pencilfish, Beckford's Pencilfish [
Nannostomus beckfordi
SYN : Nannostomus anomalus, N. aripirangensis
PD : This elongated fish, varies greatly in color depending on the geographical location from which it originated. A thick, dark band extends from the snout to the base of the caudal fin.  The tall dorsal fin ranges in color depending on the fish's body color. 
SIZE : To 2.5" (6.4 cm)
SS : One-lined Pencilfish ( Nannobrycon unifasciatus ), Dwarf Pencilfish ( Nannostomus marginatus ).
HAB : Thickets of shallow vegetation in small brooks and creeks. South America; French Guyana,Guyana, and Brazil in the Rio Negro and middle Amazon.
S: middle, top
TANK : 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L).  The tank should be well-planted with fine-leafed plants (possible spawning site) and have a partial cover of floating plants to diffuse the light.  Arrange the tank in dark colors with dark gravel. This fish prefers clean, peat-filtered water.
WATER : pH 6-7.5 (6.7), dH 1-18 (5), 72-81°F (22-27°C)
SB : A peaceful fish best kept in schools.  Combine with other peaceful fish includingsmall characins and catfish. Unlike other species in this family, Beckford's Pencilfish can be combined with more livelyfish. Males often battle with each other, although neither fish is ever injured.
SC : Tetras, Corydoras, Loricarids, Killifish, Apistogramma , Discus, Hatchetfish, Rasboras,Danios.
FOOD : Live; brine shrimp, bloodworms, glassworms, Tubifex , mosquito larvae, Cyclops, Drosophila ; also takes dry foods
SEX: Males are slimmer with brighter red colors.
B : Use a small tank with a pH from 6.0 to 7.0, soft to medium water (1-6 dH), and a warm temperature of 82-86°F (28-30°C). Place as many fine-leafed plants as possible in the tank along with Java moss. The lighting should be dim. Spawning is initiated when the male pokes the female's abdomen.  Pencilfish are notorious egg-eaters and often eat the eggs are they are dropped.  Try using a pipette to suck up the eggs,before this occurs. Remove the pair or the eggs to a rearing tank.  The transparent eggs hatch in 24-36 hours and the fry are free-swimming after 6 more days. At this time, the fry swim near the surface of the water and should be fed with roftiers, newly hatched Artemia, and powdered foods.  When the young begin to swim at a lower water level, they can be fed larger foods. With frequent partial water changes, the young will grow quickly, even beginning to develop adult colors as soon as five weeks.
BP : 5. Breeding is fairly easy as long as the eggs are separated from the parents in time.
R : Beckford's Pencilfish occasionally has problems with acclimation.  It is normal for individuals to be shy and lose color for the first weeks in a new tank. There are several different color forms available.  The color of this fish greatly depends on its geographical habitat. Several sub-species have been described.  Beckford's Pencilfish is the easiest of its genus to care for and breed. When excited, the colors of this fish are intensified.
DC : 3. A hardy, peaceful fish ideal for small community tanks.
 

Three-striped Pencilfish, Tube-mouthed Pencilfish

[
Nannobrycon eques
SYN : Nannostomus eques, Poecilobrycon auratus, P. eques
PD : A slender, elongated fish that has a pointed head.  The lower half of the caudal fin is larger than the upper part. Five rows of dark spots are located on the pale brown to light gray back.  Below these markings, a wide band extends from the tip of the snout to the lower part of the caudal fin.  The upper lobe of the caudal fin is usually transparent,as are the other fins. On the anal fin, is a small black and red marking. 
SIZE : To 2" (5 cm)
SS : One-lined Pencilfish ( Nannobrycon unifasciatus )
HAB : Found in small streams with heavy shore vegetation.  South America; middle reaches of the Amazon, Brazil; Rio Negro, Guyana, Western Columbia
S: top
TANK : 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L).  Provide large, open swimming areas and a cover of floating plants. The tank should have dark gravel and be well-planted.  These fish prefer peat filtration.
WATER : pH 5-7.2 (6.5), dH 0-12 (3), 73-84°F (23-29°C).
SB : A peaceful, schooling fish that can be combined with other, non-active fishes of lower swimming levels. 
SC : Tetras, Corydoras, Loricarids, Killifish, Apistogramma , Discus.
FOOD : Live; insects, Daphnia , mosquito larvae, Artemia , Drosophila, bloodworms; flakes; freeze-dried
SEX: Males are slimmer and more colorful.
B : Use a small tank with a pH of 6.0, a hardness of 2 dH, and a warmer water temperature of 86°F (30°C). After an active courtship, spawning takes place on the undersides of leaves.  The eggs are laid in groups of four and sink to the bottom. The parents immediately attempt to eat the eggs after they are laid,so use a pipette to suck the eggs out of the parents reach.  The young hatch in 24-30 hours and are free-swimming about 5 days later. Start feeding with roftiers, brine shrimp nauplii, and powder foods.
BP : 6. Breeding is slightly more difficult than N. beckfordi , although it is not all that difficult.
R : This fish occasionally swims in an oblique position.
DC : 4. A hardy fish that can be kept in a community tank with other non-aggressive fish.  This fish's diet needs to be regularly supplemented with live foods.
 
One-lined Pencilfish
[
Nannobrycon unifasciatus
SYN : Nannostomus unifasciatus, Poecilobrycon unifasciatus
PD : An elongated fish with a pale to olive brown back.  A fine, iridescent gold-colored line extends from the tip of the snout, through the eye and to the caudal fin.  Right below this line is a broad, black band that also extends from the snout, through the eye, and continues to the tip of the lower lobe of the caudal fin.  A small, black, oval spot is located on the upper lobe of the caudal fin. The belly is white in color. The anal finis black with a white edging, while the other fins are transparent.
SIZE : To 2.5" (6.5 cm)
SS : Three-striped Pencilfish ( Nannobrycon eques ), Harrison's Pencilfish( Nannostomus harrisoni )
HAB : Found in reedy shore vegetation usually in shallow parts of streams and small rivers.  South America; Rio Negro, Guyana; Amazon, Columbia, Brazil; tributaries of the Rio Madeira.
S: top
TANK : 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L).  The tank should have open swimming areas with a partial cover of floating plants to diffuse lighting.  The tank should be well-planted and have a dark gravel bottom. This species is somewhat sensitive to nitrates and nitrite so perform regular water changes.  These fish do best in peat-filtered water.
WATER : pH 5-7 (6.5), dH 0-12 (4), 75-84°F (24-29°C)
SB : A peaceful, schooling fish that should be kept in a group.  Combine with fishes of the lower swimming levels that are non-aggressive.
SC : Tetras, Corydoras, Loricarids, Killifish, Apistogramma , Discus.
FOOD : Live; Daphnia , insects, mosquito larvae, Artemia, Drosophila , glassworms, bloodworms; flake; freeze-dried.
SEX: The anal fin of the male red, white, and black, while the plumper female has a white and black anal fin.
B : See N.eques .
BP : 7. Breeding of this Pencilfish is somewhat more difficult than other Pencilfish
R : When water conditions are unfavorable, the colors of this fish may fade.  The One-lined Pencilfish swims in an oblique position.
DC : 4.  A hardy fish that can be kept in a community tank with other non-aggressive fish. This fish's diet needs to be regularly supplemented with live foods

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