Spotted headstander Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 3, 2022

The Spotted Headstander is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for the community aquarium.

This fish is peaceful, easy to care for, and relatively uncommon in the fishkeeping world.

But before you run out and buy one, there are a few things you need to know. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Spotted Headstander care.

You’ll learn about their diet, tank mates, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

Spotted headstanders ( scientific name: Hypostomus punctatus) are a type of suckermouth catfish that are native to South America. They are most commonly found in the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and Colombia.

They prefer habitats with a lot of plants and wood for them to hide among. This is something that’s common to many types of catfish, as they are bottom-dwellers that like to stay hidden.

Spotted headstanders are omnivores, which means they will eat both plants and meat. In the wild, they will eat a variety of small invertebrates as well as algae.

In the aquarium scene, these fish are popular because of their unique appearance. They have a long, snake-like body with a spotted pattern that is truly one-of-a-kind.


Spotted headstander

The Spotted headstander is a very unique and easily recognizable fish. As you can probably guess from their name, the most notable feature on this fish is the large black spot on their head. This spot is actually a false eye, and it’s used to fool predators into thinking that the fish is looking at them when they’re really not.

The rest of their body is long and thin with a slight curve towards the end. Their dorsal and anal fins are both fairly large and start about two-thirds of the way back on their bodies.

The Spotted headstander also has a forked caudal fin that’s symmetrical on the top and bottom.

This fish is a brown or olive color with small black spots dotting their body. The spots are most concentrated on their head and tail.


Spotted headstanders have a lifespan of around 5 years. This can change based on a variety of different factors but, in general, that’s how long they live.

The biggest factor impacting their lifespan is the level of care they receive. If they’re kept in subpar conditions then their lifespan will be shorter.

Other things like their diet and tank mates can also play a role in how long they live.


Spotted headstanders can grow to be 12 inches long, but are usually closer to 8 inches in length.


Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for a Spotted headstander is 30 gallons. This fish is a little more active than some of the other species on this list and needs a bit more room to swim.

If you want to keep more than one Spotted headstander in your tank you’ll need to add an additional 10 gallons of water per fish. So a tank of 50 gallons would be the minimum for two fish, 60 gallons for three fish, and so on.

Water Parameters

Spotted headstanders are a schooling fish, which means they do best when kept in groups. A school of 5 or more is ideal, but you can get by with a smaller group if necessary.

They’re also a bit more demanding when it comes to water quality. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the nitrate levels and do regular water changes to keep them in check.

These fish are also sensitive to sudden changes in water parameters. Be sure to acclimate them slowly to any new water you add to the tank.

Here are a few water parameters to keep in mind when caring for spotted headstanders.

  • Water Temperature: 60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels: 6.8 to 7.8
  • Water Hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Spotted headstanders are a species of freshwater fish that come from South America.

They’re a peaceful fish that does well in a community tank as long as their tankmates are of a similar size.

These fish prefer to live in slow-moving waters with plenty of hiding spots.

When it comes to setting up the inside of their tank, you have a few different options.

One is to go with a more natural look and feel. This can be achieved by adding some plants and driftwood to their habitat.

Another option is to go for a more minimalist approach and only include the essentials.

We recommend a mix of both approaches. Include some plants and driftwood for them to hide in, but don’t go overboard.

You should also include a decent amount of open swimming space since they’re an active fish.

The substrate you choose is up to you, but we recommend something that’s soft and sandy.

Common Diseases

The Spotted Headstander is a freshwater fish that is native to South America. They’re a fairly peaceful species that is known for their unique “headstand” swimming position.

While they’re not overly sensitive fish, there are still a few diseases that you need to be aware of. The most common one is ich.

Ich is a parasitic infection that is caused by poor water quality. It’s marked by the presence of white spots on the body of your fish. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

The best way to prevent ich is by maintaining a clean and stable tank. This will create an environment that is hostile to the parasites that cause this disease.

If you do notice ich, the best course of action is to consult a vet and begin treatment immediately.

Another disease to be aware of is Hole in the Head Disease. This is another condition that is caused by poor water quality.

It’s marked by the presence of pits or holes in the head of your fish. While it’s not usually fatal, it can be quite uncomfortable for your fish.

Again, the best way to prevent this is by maintaining a clean and stable tank. If you notice the symptoms of this disease, consult a vet and begin treatment immediately.

Behavior & Temperament

Spotted headstanders are a unique looking fish that are peaceful by nature. They’re not very active, so don’t expect to see them swimming around too much. Instead, they spend most of their time hiding in the plants or rocks of their tank.

Because they’re not very active, they don’t need a lot of space to swim. A 20-gallon tank is more than enough for a single fish. If you plan on keeping more than one, you’ll need at least a 30-gallon tank.

Spotted headstanders are a schooling fish, so they do best when they’re kept in groups. They’re also more likely to come out of hiding when they’re around other fish. If you don’t have a lot of fish in your tank, they may never come out!

These fish are very sensitive to changes in their environment. If you need to move them or transport them, be very careful. They don’t do well with changes and it can cause them a lot of stress.

Tank Mates

Spotted headstanders are peaceful community fish. In their native range, they often school with other fish species.

This school can include fish of different sizes, shapes, and colors. As long as the fish are roughly the same size as the spotted headstander, they’ll likely get along.

The only time you might have issues is if you have aggressive fish in the tank. In this case, the spotted headstander can become bullied and even harassed to the point of death.

To avoid this, it’s best to only keep peaceful fish as tank mates. Some good options include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Black Neon Tetras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies


Spotted headstanders are another species of fish that is difficult to breed in captivity. These fish are very particular when it comes to their spawning environment. If you don’t have everything just right, they may not breed at all.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 20 gallons and should have a water temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, you need to add some plants.

Spotted headstanders like to lay their eggs on plants. So, you need to make sure that there are plenty of plants in the tank. Java moss is a good option.

You also need to make sure that the water is soft. A water hardness of 5 to 10 dGH is ideal.

When everything is set up, you can add the fish. You should have one male for every two females.

Once the fish are in the tank, you need to feed them live foods. That will help to trigger spawning.

When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will attach them to the plants. The male will then fertilize them. After that, he will stay close by to protect them.

The eggs will hatch in about two weeks. When they do, you can start feeding the fry live foods. Baby brine shrimp are a good option.

As the fry grow, you can slowly start introducing them to dry foods.


Spotted headstander care is not difficult, but there are a few things you need to know to keep them healthy and happy.

These fish are relatively hardy and do well in a variety of water conditions. They’re also peaceful fish that will get along with most other community fish.

The biggest thing to be aware of is their diet. These fish are mostly herbivores, so you’ll need to make sure they have plenty of vegetables to eat.

Overall, we think spotted headstanders make great additions to most tanks. They’re beautiful fish that are relatively easy to care for.