Golden Pencilfish – Care | Tank Size | Breeding | Facts | Profile

golden pencilfish

The Golden Pencilfish, scientific name Nannostomus beckfordi, is a freshwater fish, mostly found in North America and is a very popular aquarium fish because of its beauty.

Golden Pencilfish facts

Inhabits small rivers with a little present and in swamps the place they’re quite common. Forms teams the place the males dominate to defend their territory.

Is extremely appreciated by aquarists. Feeds on worms, crustaceans, and bugs. Aquarium protecting: in teams of 5 or more people; minimal aquarium size 60 cm.


The type locality is ‘Goedverwagting, a plantation on the Coast of Demerara, Guyana’ however this species is widely-distributed all through rivers of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, plus the eastern Amazon drainage in Amapá and Pará states Brazil.

It’s additionally reported from the Rio Madeira, decrease and center Amazon as far upstream because of the decrease Rio Negro, and Río Orinoco in Venezuela.

Though wild fish are nonetheless exported on a regular basis, lots of these seen on sale within the aquarium commerce are farmed commercially.

Wild populations fluctuate in color pattern relying on origin, and a few populations have beforehand been described as distinct species.

Nannostomus beckfordi Description

This is essentially the most energetic species of pencilfish and is subsequently appropriate for community aquaria with different full of life however peaceable non-aggressive fish akin to tetras, corydoras, small loaches, rasbora, danio, and a few dwarf cichlids.

As it spends appreciable time at or near the floor, Nannostomus beckfordi isn’t really useful with floor fish. Must be stored in a gaggle, ideally Eight or more, with a ratio of more females than males, e.g., 5 females to three males.

Sexual dimorphism is kind of straightforward; males typically have broader black bands on their sides and are far more brick red (darker, nearly black at occasions) compared to the females who’re beige in color and fewer engaging; the first photograph beneath is a male, the second photograph is a feminine.

Males regularly set up conflicts that are entertaining and never prone to lead to bodily hurt; they place themselves parallel to one another with face forming a 45 degrees downward angle.

They attempt to push one another apart by their flanks. Sometimes, about three males carry out such dominance and that is even more entertaining than the precise two. Photo Three illustrates two males in “combat.”

In the wild, this species inhabits sluggish streams and quiet waters. A well-planted tank with a darkish substrate and subdued lighting makes an ideal atmosphere for the pencil fish.

Leaf litter on the substrate is acceptable, and floating crops ought to at all times be present; the fish graze among the many dangling roots and can spawn amongst floating crops and the higher components of stem crops.

The fish transfer in regards to the aquarium however has a tendency to stay within the higher 2/Three of the water column.

As with all pencilfish, apart from N. espei, this species has a diurnal (completely different from day to night) color pattern; in darkness, the lateral stripe breaks up into blotches and the colors pale significantly.

This has been noticed in blind fish, displaying that it’s an automatic response and never managed by the fish.

This species doesn’t possess an adipose fin. As with all pencilfish, the mouth is small, terminal and at all times open, tailored for feeding on very small organisms. The genus name Nannostomus comes from the Greek nanno [=small] and stomus [=mouth], “smallmouth.”

Most out there fish are actually commercially raised. The Nannostomus beckfordi species was first described and named as Nannostomus beckfordi by Gunther (1872).

There are a number of color variations or morphs recognized, and subsequent to the unique naming by Gunther, he or different scientists variously assigned the names Nannostomus anomalus, N. aripiragensis, N. surinami and N. simplex to completely different color morphs of this fish below the impression they have been distinct species. These are conspecifics and the names are actually acknowledged as synonyms (i.e., invalid) for N. beckfordi.

This is a polytypic species with a large geographical range from the Guyanas and alongside some 700 air miles up the Amazon River in tributary streams and rivers; additional examine will possible decide that this species consists of a number of distinct geographical populations and a few of these could show to be subspecies.

Golden Pencilfish Behavior and Compatibility

Nannostomus beckfordi is relatively peaceable and won’t compete nicely with very boisterous or a lot bigger tankmates.

In a community, it’s greatest stored with similarly-sized, peaceable characids and smaller callichthyid or loricariid catfishes however sedate surface-dwellers akin to hatchet fishes are greatest omitted, particularly in smaller aquaria.

It additionally makes a perfect dither fish for Apistogramma spp. and different dwarf cichlids because it tends to inhabit the middle-to-upper areas of the tank, and doesn’t typically predate fry.

In a more basic community set-up, it may be mixed with smaller rasboras, barbs, anabantoids, and so forth.

Buy as many as possible, ideally 10 or more, as when stored in bigger teams any aggression is spread between people plus the fish are bolder and exhibit more natural behavior.

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Golden Pencilfish Temperament

Generally peaceable, however, males recurrently chase different fish away from their space; whereas that is usually not bodily, it may be relying upon the fish–surface fish like hatchet fish will typically be harassed and nipped.

Males continuously display/problem one another, typically three in a line, however more typically two collectively.

Males drive females very arduous, and there ought to be more females than males to ease stress.

In a community aquarium, this pencil fish is healthier with more energetic fish than any of the opposite species, and shouldn’t be mixed with sedate fish like angelfish, discus, gourami.


Inhabits sluggish tributaries, small rivers, and swampy areas, significantly in areas with a dense growth of aquatic vegetation or submerged woody buildings and leaf litter.

Life cycle and mating behavior

At spawning time in captivity, females and males swim alongside each other. Several batches of 1 to five eggs are laid among the many fine-leaved crops, with a total of as many as 200 eggs in some instances; eggs hatch in 30 to 40 hours, and fry are free-swimming about six days after. Between 24°-27°C, eggs hatch in 24 hours.

Nannostomus beckfordi Size

30 – 35 mm, though some sources recommend it could possibly attain 65 mm.


A micro predator feeding on tiny invertebrates and different zooplankton in nature.

In the aquarium, it would settle for dried meals of an appropriate size however also needs to be provided daily meals of small stay and frozen fare akin to Artemia nauplii, Moina, grindal worm, and so forth.

Golden Pencilfish Care

Should ideally be stored in a heavily-planted set-up, ideally with a darkish substrate.

The damaged traces of sight that exist in such a display permit it to display natural behavior in addition to serving to cut back skittishness.

Floating crops are a helpful addition as are driftwood branches and dried leaf litter, the latter specifically driving the institution of microbe colonies as decomposition happens.

Such microorganisms can present a helpful secondary meal source for fry, while the tannins and different chemical compounds launched by the decaying leaves are additionally thought useful.

Filtration need solely be mild with an air-powered sponge-style unit usually sufficient, though a degree of water motion is suitable.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 21 – 27 °C

pH: 5.0 – 8.0, although wild fish could do greatest in the direction of the decrease end of this range.

Hardness: 18 – 268 ppm; notes for wild fish as per pH.

Aquarium Size

Base dimensions of at least 45 ∗ 30 cm or equal are necessary, with bigger housing really useful in the event you want to preserve a number of males collectively.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males are more intensely-colored, particularly when in spawning situations, whereas females are noticeably rounder-bodied.

The anal-fin of the male has a curved posterior edge which is straight in females.

Golden Pencilfish Reproduction and breeding

An egg-scattering free spawner exhibiting no parental care.

When in good situation adults will spawn typically and in a mature aquarium it’s possible that small numbers of fry could start to seem without intervention.

However, if you wish to maximize yield a more managed strategy is required.

The adult group can nonetheless be conditioned collectively however a smaller aquarium also needs to be set up and stuffed with mature water.

This ought to be very dimly lit and the bottom coated with some type of mesh of a big sufficient grade in order that the eggs can fall via however sufficiently small in order that the adults can’t attain them.

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The extensively out there plastic ‘grass’-type matting can be used and works nicely, as does a layer of glass marbles.

Alternatively filling a lot of the tank with a fine-leaved plant akin to Taxiphyllum spp. or spawning mops may also return respectable outcomes.

The water itself ought to be of barely acidic to neutral pH with a temperature in the direction of the higher end of the range recommended above.

An air-powered sponge filter or air stone(s) also needs to be included to supply oxygenation and water motion.

When the adult fish are well-conditioned a single pair or group comprising one or two males and several other females can then be launched to every container, although it’s price noting that the more people concerned the higher the danger of egg predation, plus males could distract one another from females if there’s more than one within the tank.

The adults could be eliminated after 2-3 days and the first fry ought to be seen around Three days later.

Initial meals ought to be Paramecium or proprietary dry meals of small enough (5-50 micron) grade, introducing Artemia nauplii, micro worm, and so forth., as soon as the fry are massive sufficient to just accept them. Learn more about what-do-angler-fish-eat-diet.

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