Barred Pencilfish (Nannostomus espei)

From Pet Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Barred Pencilfish
Nannostomus espei
Barred Pencilfish (Nannostomus espei)
Name Barred Pencilfish
Name Lat. Nannostomus espei
Family Pencilfishes
Family lat. Lebiasinidae
Order Characins
Order lat. Characiformes
Origin South America
Habitat Streams, ponds
Diet Carnivore
pH 5.0-7.0
Behavior Peaceful
Keeping Group
Care Level Difficult
Reproduction Egg scatterer
Breeding Difficult
Life Span 3-5 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 3-4 cm
Temperature 22-26 °C
Hardness 4-10 °dH
Aquarium 50 l
US Units
Size 1.2"-1.6"
Temperature 72-79 °F
Hardness 71-178 ppm
Aquarium 15 gal

Distribution and habitat

The range of the Espes Ornamental Tetra is the Rio Mazaruni river system in southwestern Guyana. They live in slow flowing streams as well as in stagnant waters, such as ponds and floodplains with dense vegetation.


The aquarium should have soft, slightly acidic water and varied planting that provides both shelter and swimming space. A dark substrate covered with some foliage (e.g. sea almond leaves), some roots and shaded light (floating plant cover) is ideal.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


In the wild they feed mainly on small insects and larvae. The diet consists of small live foods such as cyclops, daphnia, artemia and mosquito larvae, which are also well accepted frozen, plus commercially available frozen special food mixtures. High-quality, protein-rich dry food (flakes, granules) is also usually accepted without problems.

A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance. Only as much should be fed as is eaten immediately (in a maximum of 10 minutes).

Behaviour and compatibility

They are calm fish and well suited for any community tank with small peaceful fish. Males will defend their small territories against each other without serious fighting. At least 5, but preferably more Espes ornamental tetras should be kept together.

In principle, only mutually compatible fish species with similar demands on water conditions and water temperature should be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

The females are rounder than the males.

Reproduction and breeding

The males form small territories, preferably with fine-feathered plants (Java moss), into which females willing to spawn come. After 24-48 hours the larvae hatch and swim freely after 3-4 days

Fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food (dust food). In community tanks breeding is hardly possible, because the spawn is easy prey.


For camouflage, they change their color and markings in the dark to protect themselves from predators while sleeping.

The well-being of the fish should be checked regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels should be checked at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even when contaminant levels have not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); RIEHL & BAENSCH (2006): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 1, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF