Wrestling halfbeak Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 19, 2022

The wrestling halfbeak is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. They are a peaceful and hardy fish that make a great addition to any community tank.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about wrestling halfbeak care. You’ll learn about their diet, tank mates, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

Wrestling halfbeaks (scientific name: Dermogenys pusilla) are small, freshwater fish that are found in various parts of Southeast Asia. Their natural habitat includes Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

They prefer slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This could be in the form of ponds, rivers, or even ditches.

Wrestling halfbeaks are surface-dwelling fish, which means they spend a lot of their time near the top of the water column. This is where they feel the most comfortable and where they can find most of the food that they eat.

Although they are a popular choice for aquariums, wrestling halfbeaks can be quite difficult to care for. They are very sensitive to changes in their environment and require a lot of attention to detail.


Wrestling halfbeak

The most notable feature of this fish is the long beak that protrudes from their mouth. This beak can be twice as long as their body and is used to snag prey. The beak is also serrated on both sides which makes it easier to tear flesh.

The beak is attached to a small head that leads into a long and slender body. The body is covered in small scales that have a greenish-brown coloration. There is a dark stripe that runs along the middle of the body and becomes more pronounced near the tail.

The fins on this fish are also quite long and streamline. The dorsal fin starts about halfway back on the body and extends all the way to the tail. The anal fin is similar in size and shape, but it starts a bit closer to the head.

The caudal fin is forked and extends outwards at a 90-degree angle from the body.

The pectoral fins are small and located near the head.


The lifespan of a wrestling halfbeak in captivity is typically 3 to 5 years. These fish are relatively hardy and can withstand a fair amount of abuse.

However, as with any other animal, their lifespan will be impacted by the quality of care they receive. Things like poor water quality, stress, and a suboptimal diet can all lead to a shortened lifespan.


The average size of a wrestling halfbeak is about 4 inches long. However, some have been known to grow up to 6 inches in length.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a wrestling halfbeak is 30 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you should add an additional 10 gallons of tank space for each fish.

Wrestling halfbeaks are a bit unusual in that they prefer to be kept in pairs or small groups. In the wild, they’re often found in pairs or small schools.

While they can be kept alone, they’re much happier when they have at least one other fish to interact with. If you’re looking for a community fish, this is not the best option.

Water Parameters

The Wrestling Halfbeak is a peaceful and hardy fish that can be a great addition to any community aquarium. They are relatively easy to care for as long as their basic needs are met.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to Wrestling Halfbeak care is that these fish come from brackish water. That means they need a mix of fresh and saltwater to thrive.

The best way to provide this is to use a marine salt mix in your aquarium. This will dissolve in the water and raise the salinity to the level these fish need.

As for other water parameters, the Wrestling Halfbeak is not too picky. They can tolerate a wide range of conditions, as long as the water is clean and well-oxygenated.

Here are a few guidelines to help you create a healthy environment for your Wrestling Halfbeak.

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 7.0 to 8.5
  • Water hardness: 5 to 15 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-12 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up an aquarium for a Wrestling Halfbeak there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, these fish like to have a lot of places to hide. This can be in the form of plants, caves, or anything else that will give them a sense of security.

Second, since these fish are such strong swimmers, you need to make sure there’s plenty of open space in their tank. They need room to move around and exercise.

Third, the substrate you use is important. They like to sift through it looking for food, so something soft and sandy is best.

As for specific plants, we recommend anything that can provide them with plenty of places to hide. Java fern, hornwort, and water wisteria are all great choices.

In terms of rocks and caves, it’s really up to you. Just make sure they’re big enough that your fish can’t accidentally knock them over and hurt themselves.

Common Diseases

Wrestling halfbeaks are a hardy species of fish, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick from time to time.

The most common illness that these fish experience is hole-in-the-head disease. This disease is caused by a build-up of toxins in the water, and it will present itself as pits or holes in the head of your fish.

If left untreated, this disease can be fatal. However, it is easily curable if you take the necessary steps to improve the water quality in your tank.

Another common disease that these fish can get is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will cause white spots to form on the body of your fish.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action immediately. The sooner you start treatment, the higher the chance is that your fish will make a full recovery.

Of course, the best way to prevent these diseases is to simply maintain a clean and healthy environment for your fish. This means doing regular water changes and keeping an eye on the water parameters in your tank.

By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of your wrestling halfbeak getting sick.

Behavior & Temperament

The wrestling halfbeak is a peaceful fish that doesn’t bother other tank mates. In fact, they spend most of their time swimming solo. The only time you’ll see them in a group is when they’re looking for food.

These fish are opportunistic eaters, which means they’ll consume whatever they can find. They’re not picky at all and will eat just about anything that fits in their mouth. This includes live food, pellets, flakes, and even vegetables.

Wrestling halfbeaks are known to be a bit nippy, but they’re not aggressive. They may nibble on the fins of their tank mates, but they won’t do any real damage. This behavior is usually just a sign that they’re hungry.

Tank Mates

In the wild, wrestling halfbeaks are found in brackish and fresh water. This means that they can do well in both types of tanks.

The main thing to remember with these fish is that they’re jumpers. A tight-fitting lid is a must to prevent escape.

Other than that, there are plenty of compatible tank mates. They’re peaceful and get along with most other fish.

Some good wrestling halfbeak tank mates include:

  • Mollies
  • Guppies
  • Swordtails
  • Platies
  • Neon Tetras
  • Cherry Barbs


Breeding wrestling halfbeaks is a bit more difficult than other fish since they’re not as common in the hobby. But with a little patience, you can successfully breed them in captivity.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons and filled with soft, acidic water. You can use a peat moss filter to lower the pH even further. The temperature should be between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, add plenty of live plants and floating moss. This will give the fry a place to hide and feel safe. Be sure to use plants that can withstand lower water levels and lower pH levels.

When ready, add two males for every female. Males are easily identified by their long, streamer-like fins.

As with other species, it’s best to trigger spawning by doing a large water change. This will encourage the fish to lay their eggs.

Eggs are usually laid on the live plants. After they are fertilized, the male will guard them. He will also keep the area clean to prevent fungus growth.

Eggs hatch in about a week. When they do, you can start feeding the fry live baby brine shrimp or other small foods.


The Wrestling Halfbeak is a unique and interesting fish that is sure to stand out in your aquarium. They are not the easiest fish to care for, but they are definitely worth the effort.

These fish are best kept in a species only tank due to their aggression levels. They are also known to be jumpers, so a tight fitting lid is a must.

Overall, we think the Wrestling Halfbeak is a great fish for experienced aquarium owners who are looking for something a little different.