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Nannostomus harrisoni (Harrison's Pencilfish, Blackstripe pencilfish)

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A very elongated, delicately proportioned characin with a broad black band running from nose to tail. The caudal fin is reddish in colour as is the anal fin. The other fins are tipped with white. The male has a more vividly coloured anal fin, but otherwise the two sexes are similar.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

A peaceful, schooling fish. Pencilfish are rather consistent in terms of requirements. All are timid and easily bullied, so should either be kept alone or with very placid tankmates (dwarf Corydoras, for example). The tank also needs to be dark. A black sand substrate is ideal. Provide plenty of vegetation for shade and for hiding places.

In the wild these fish use their elongated body shape to hide among plants and roots. Typically they are inactive by day and only start to forage at dusk, feeding on small invertebrates as well as mouthfuls of mud from which they extract edible detritus. For this reason, food offered by day often goes unnoticed, while the same food offered in the evening is more willingly accepted.

Pencilfish have sometimes been bred in home aquaria. Very soft (2 degrees KH) water at around pH 6.0 is required. Pairs carefully place a relatively small number of eggs among plants but otherwise offer no broodcare. The eggs hatch after about 3 days, and will take infusoria once they are free swimming.

Family Group: Characins
Distribution South America: Guyana, Demerara River
Temperature 24-28 C
Size Around 6 cm
Water Parameters Soft and slightly acidic water of good quality essential
Water PH 5.5-7.0