Characins / Characinae / Head and Tail Light

Head and Tail Light, Beacon Fish
Hemigrammus ocellifer ocellifer

SYN: Holopristis ocellifer, Tetragonopterus ocellifer
PD: The body is oval-shaped and silver in color. The back is arched and the dorsal fin stands tall. There are two black spots; one just behind the gill cover and the other at the base of the tail. A silvery-white line runs from the eye to the tail. The upper part of the iris is bright red and there is an orange to copper spot right above the black one at the base of the tail. The fins are transparent.
SIZE: To 2" (5 cm)
SS: Much confusion has been created by the close resemblance of Hemigrammus ocellifer falsus to this fish. Hemigrammus ocellifer falsus is found in the tropical rivers of Northwestern Argentina and is more colorful and common in the hobby.
HAB: South America; in coastal regions of French Guyana and widespread throughout the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.
S: middle
TANK: 16" (40 cm) or 5 gallons (19 L) is adequate. The tank must be arranged in dark colors for this fish's iridescent orange spots to show. Provide open swimming areas and have a cover of floating plants to diffuse the light. Have well-planted areas for hiding.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.8), 4-25 dH (8), 72-82°F (22-28°C)
SB: A peaceful, schooling fish recommended for community tanks.
SC: Tetras, Loricarids, Corydoras, Apistogramma, Discus, Livebearers, Gouramis
FOOD: Flake; live; insect larvae, Brine Shrimp, Tubifex, small aquatic insects.
SEX: The pointed swim bladder of male fish can be clearly seen when viewed in a glass against the light. Only part of the rounded swim bladder is visible in females. Females are also plumper.
B: A prolific fish. Spawning is stimulated by morning sun and a warm temperature (82°F). 200-1000 eggs are laid and hatch in 20-24 hours. The parents should be removed after eggs are laid. The fry are free swimming after 1-2 days and should be fed egg yolk the first 2-5 days, and small live foods thereafter.
BP: 5. Breeding is fairly easy for an egg-layer.
DC: 2. A hardy fish that does well in a community tank.

By Rhett Butler


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