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Nannostomus mortenthaleri - Coral Red Pencilfish


  • Nannostomus mortenthaleri - Coral Red Pencilfish

    Photo thanks to DiscusEden

    Scientific name: Nannostomus mortenthaleri
    Common name: Coral Red Pencilfish

    Country of origin:
    South America - Peru

    pH: 4.0 - 7.0
    Temperature: 24 - 28c
    Hardness: 18 - 90 ppm
    Water flow: low - standard
    Oxygenation: standard

    Maximum size: 3.0cm

    Diet: carniverous. Live microfoods, will easily adapt to dry foods.

    Breeding: Males - more colourful & streamlined than feamles. Males have a white stripe on the belly.
    They are an egg scatterer, and if provided with a mop or sufficient moss or plants, they can lay eggs, however they need to be kept from them by a division in the tank, or removal of the eggs or fish. They will also not provide any care, so removal of the parents is still the best plan.
    Pairs are territorial when spawning.

    Tank companions: They hunt red cherry shrimps as adults.They would try for crystal red adult shrimps, but ay not be able to kill them unless working together. They would certianly take shrimplets until near adult size. They are OK with Caradina typus, which are much larger.

    They are the most voracious hunters of shrimp I have kept in the tank - even compared to Gold Line Pencilfish. Odd, since the write-ups I have seen have all said that pencilfish are ideal for keeping with shrimp.

    Other microfish are suitable tankmates. I have kept them with bororas; danios; chocolate, liquorice & sparkling gouramis; green neon & ember tetras; male endlers and royal whiptails. They live in their natural habitat with apistogramma species. Despite their continual non-stop hunting of shrimplets, I have never observed them to display any aggression toward or interest in other fish as prey.

    They prefer a dark substrate, heavily planted, with blackwater from decaying leaves (Indian Almond Leaves are ideal).

    They require a mature tank - do not add them immediately after setting up a new tank, and the tank should be 3ft or larger.

    They do not school well.

    Their colour will probably fade when the lights are off, and return gradually as the lights come on.

    They will intimidate smaller tankmates, such as the bororas, who will become very shy in their presence. The others are fine.

    Confused with:
    There are 19 species in the genus:

    Nannostomus anduzei
    Nannostomus beckfordi - Gold line/ Beckford's/ Golden/Brown pencilfish
    Nannostomus bifasciatus - Two-lined/whiteside pencilfish
    Nannostomus britskii - Spotstripe pencilfish
    Nannostomus digrammus - Twostripe pencilfish
    Nannostomus eques - Honeystick/Brown/Rocket/Brown-tailed/Diptail/Tubemouth pencilfish
    Nannostomus espei - Espe's/Barred pencilfish
    Nannostomus grandis
    Nannostomus harrisoni - Harrison's/blackstripe pencilfish
    Nannostomus limatus - Elegant pencilfish
    Nannostomus marginatus - Dwarf pencilfish
    Nannostomus marilynae - Marilyn's/greenstripe pencilfish
    Nannostomus minimus - Least pencilfish
    Nannostomus mortenthaleri - Coral-red pencilfish
    Nannostomus nigrotaeniatus
    Nannostomus nitidus - Shining pencilfish
    Nannostomus rubrocaudatus - Purple pencilfish
    Nannostomus trifasciatus - Threestripe/Three-lined pencilfish
    Nannostomus unifasciatus - Oneline pencilfish

    All Nannostomus spp. are legal imports to Australia as of 20/10/2013:

    The IUCN Red List reports Nannostomus mortenthaleri as a species which has not yet been assessed at 20/10/2013:

    It is very important not to release any aquarium specimens into our waterways. Any that are not sold or re-homed/ given away, can often be re-sold to aquarium stores. If they are homed in ponds, care should be taken that they cannot escape in run-off into our waterways. Even if fish are native & local they should not be moved from one waterway to another, as this can transfer disease. If they are not local fish, they can both spread disease and either out-compete or eat local fish, shrimp & plants, causing their demise.

    They are a good fish for people with some experience (beginners +1).

    Relevant threads:

    Video, keeping/treating with tea-tree & other advice:

    Video of males sparring, keeping with shrimp:


    • DiscusEden
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