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Title Beckford's Pencilfish (Nannostomus beckfordi )

Sara Waller

Last Updated



A brief description of the Beckford's pencilfish.

The Beckford's Pencilfish is a small fish  that is widely distributed throughout rivers of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, plus the eastern Amazon drainage in Amapá and Pará states, Brazil, the Rio Madeira, lower and middle Amazon as far upstream as the lower Rio Negro, and Río Orinoco in Venezuela.  It inhabits sluggish tributaries, small rivers and swampy areas, particularly areas with dense aquatic vegetation or submerged woody structures and leaf litter.  The Beckford's Pencilfish grows to an adult size of 1.2 to 1.4 inches long.  Adult males are more intensely colored than females, especially when in spawning condition.  Females are noticeably rounder bodied.  The anal fin of the male has a curved posterior edge which is straight in females.  These fish are both  farmed commercially and wild collected.



The Beckford's Pencilfish should be maintained in an aquarium of 15 gallons or larger.  It thrives in planted or heavily decorated aquariums with gentle water flow, floating plants, and leaf litter.  Males may be aggressive with each other so keep them in the largest group possible to spread out that aggression and make the fish bolder and more active.  Ten or more would be ideal.   They should be kept on a soft, sandy substrate (CS6631) with driftwood (ZM2000), leaf litter (CS706), and other decorations in a well planted aquarium. 

The Beckford's Pencilfish prefers a temperature of 70°F to 81°F, a pH of 5.0 to 8.0, and a hardness of 1 to 15°H.  

The Beckford's Pencilfish is typically a very peaceful fish and suitable for a small community aquarium.  It will fare especially well in a heavily planted aquarium.  Good tank mates include adult dwarf shrimp, and other small fish such as celestial danios, harlequin rasboras, cories, otocinclus, and ember and neon tetras.  It can also make a good dither fish for apistogramma dwarf cichlids.

Beckford's Pencilfish are micro predators and should be fed small meaty foods including live black worms, frozen cyclops (SF1001), frozen baby brine shrimp (SF1003), high quality flakes (AL165), and freeze dried CALA-fin (AL1802).  For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.

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