Hockeystick pencilfish Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: October 31, 2022

Hockeystick pencilfish are a beautiful and peaceful freshwater fish that make a great addition to any community tank.

They’re not too demanding in terms of care, and can even be kept in a nano aquarium.

But even though they’re not difficult to care for, there are still a few things you need to know to ensure they thrive.

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Hockeystick pencilfish care. Diet, tank mates, size, and more.

Species overview

Hockeystick pencilfish (Nannostomus eques) are freshwater fish that are native to the Amazon Basin.

They are most commonly found in blackwater rivers, which are characterized by their dark-colored waters. These rivers get their color from the tannins that leach into them from the surrounding vegetation.

Hockeystick pencilfish are relatively small, only growing to be about 2 inches in length. They are silver in color with a dark stripe that runs horizontally along their body.

In the wild, these fish are known to be very peaceful and are often found in large schools. They are also known to be quite shy, so providing them with plenty of hiding places is important.

Hockeystick pencilfish are a popular choice for aquariums because of their unique appearance and peaceful nature.


Hockeystick pencilfish

The first thing you’ll notice about this species is their unique coloration. These fish are olive green on their back half that fades into a yellowish color on their belly.

There are also some dark vertical stripes that run along their body. These stripes are what give them the “hockey stick” look that their name refers to.

The fins on this fish are all fairly standard. They have a dorsal fin that begins about two-thirds of the way back on their body. This fin is tall and thin.

The anal fin is a mirror image of the dorsal fin and is placed just before their caudal fin. The caudal fin itself is forked and symmetrical.

The pectoral fins are small and placed low on the body. They have a small head with rather large eyes.


The average lifespan of a Hockeystick pencilfish is 3 to 5 years.

As with most fish, there are a number of factors that impact their life expectancy.

For starters. if these fish haven’t reproduced then their lifespan will usually be on the higher side of this range. That process can really take a toll on the fish.

The general level of care they receive obviously matters a great deal as well. Even though these are very hardy fish, they’ll obviously live longer in optimal conditions.


The Hockeystick pencilfish is a small freshwater fish that only grows to be about 2.5 inches in length.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for Hockeystick pencilfish is 10 gallons. This is assuming you’re keeping them in a school of at least 5 or 6 fish (which you should).

We personally recommend a slightly larger tank if you can accommodate it. Every extra space will make a big difference and allow you to keep a larger school or more tank mates if you’re interested in a community tank.

Water Parameters

The Hockey Stick Pencilfish is a tropical fish that requires warm water and a well-planted aquarium. They are peaceful fish that do well in a community tank with other peaceful fish.

The Hockey Stick Pencilfish is a tropical fish that requires warm water and a well-planted aquarium. They are peaceful fish that do well in a community tank with other peaceful fish.

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 5 to 15 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The inside of their tank should be set up to provide plenty of places for them to hide. These fish are very timid and will spend a majority of their time looking for a place to tuck away.

One of the best ways to provide hiding spots is by using plants. We recommend going with something like Hornwort or Java Moss. Both of these plants are fast growers and can provide plenty of cover for your fish.

Another option is to use driftwood or rocks. These can be arranged in a way that creates plenty of nooks and crannies for your fish to explore. Just be careful that the pieces you use aren’t too big. These fish are small and can easily get stuck in tight spaces.

The substrate in their tank should be on the soft side. Gravel is fine, but sand is even better. These fish like to dig and a softer substrate will be easier on them.

Common Diseases

The hockeystick pencilfish is a rather hardy and disease-resistant fish. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t get sick.

There are a few diseases that seem to target this species more than others. The most common one is ich. This is a parasites that will attach itself to your fish and cause white spots to form on their body.

If left untreated, ich can be fatal. However, it’s relatively easy to treat if you catch it early. Another common disease is hole-in-the-head disease.

This is caused by poor water quality and the presence of activated carbon in the tank. It will present itself as pits or holes in the head of your fish.

While it’s not usually fatal, it can be quite ugly and it’s important to treat it as soon as possible. The best way to prevent your hockeystick pencilfish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and healthy tank.

Make sure to do regular water changes and keep an eye on the water quality. A healthy tank will lead to healthy fish who are much less likely to fall ill.

Behavior & Temperament

The Hockeystick pencilfish is a peaceful community fish that does best in groups. It is shy and reclusive by nature and will often stay hidden among the plants in your aquarium.

This fish is not an aggressive eater, so you may see it picking at food that has already fallen to the bottom of the tank. Because of this, it’s best to keep them with other non-aggressive fish.

The Hockeystick pencilfish is a nocturnal fish, so it’s most active at night. During the day, it will often hide among the plants in your aquarium.

Overall, the Hockeystick pencilfish is a peaceful community fish that does best in groups. It is shy and reclusive by nature and will often stay hidden among the plants in your aquarium.

Tank Mates

Hockeystick pencilfish are a schooling species, so they need to be kept in groups of at least six. It’s best to stick to their own kind, but there are a few other species that they can be paired with.

Because hockeystick pencilfish are so small, they need to be kept with peaceful tank mates. Any fish that’s too large or aggressive will see them as a snack.

In terms of water conditions, these fish come from slow-moving rivers in South America. As a result, they do best in a tank with similar conditions. A sandy substrate is also a good idea since it’s what they’re used to in the wild.

Some compatible species include:

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Livebearers
  • Corydoras
  • Loricariids
  • Plecos


Hockeystick pencilfish are relatively easy to breed in captivity. However, there are a few things you need to do to make sure they are successful.

First, you need to have a well-planted tank. These fish like to lay their eggs on plants. Second, the water needs to be soft and acidic. A pH of around 6.0 is ideal.

Third, you need to have a good ratio of males to females. A ratio of 2:1 is usually best. Fourth, you need to make sure the tank is big enough. A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended.

When everything is ready, the breeding process will start on its own. The female will lay her eggs on the plants, and the male will fertilize them.

After the eggs are laid, the male will stay close by to protect them. The eggs will hatch in about two days.

Once the fry have hatched, you need to remove the adults from the tank. The fry will feed on algae and small insects. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp or other live foods.


The Hockeystick Pencilfish is a great choice for the beginner aquarist. They’re easy to care for and make a great addition to any community tank.

Their peaceful nature means they won’t bother other fish and their small size means they won’t eat all your food!

Overall, we think the Hockeystick Pencilfish is a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance fish that will add some personality to their tank.