Needle Fish: Stats and Care of Xenentodon Cancila

xenentodon cancila needle fish

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the stats and care of Xenentodon Cancila, commonly known as Needle Fish.

These intriguing creatures have captured the attention of many aquarium enthusiasts due to their unique characteristics and captivating appearance.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Needle Fish care, exploring their size, care requirements, temperament, tank setup, breeding possibilities, compatibility with tank mates, and common diseases to be aware of.

So, whether you are a seasoned fish keeper or a curious beginner, get ready to dive into the fascinating world of Needle Fish and uncover the secrets to their successful care and maintenance.

Key Takeaways

  • Needle fish require an elongated shallow tank with good cover and high-quality water.
  • They have a semi-aggressive and extremely nervous temperament, requiring a big tank.
  • The ideal tank temperature for needle fish is between 71 to 82 F.
  • Proper care and maintenance can extend their lifespan up to eight years.

Size and Care Requirements

important size and care guidelines

Needle fish, also known as the 'Pointed nose fish of the sea', require specific care due to their size and temperament. These fish can grow up to 16 inches in size and have a medium care level. To ensure their well-being, they need to be housed in an elongated shallow tank with good cover and high-quality water. The aquarium temperature should range from 71 to 82 F, and the pH should be between 6.5 to 7.5, with a dH range of 6-20. Due to their nervous temperament, it is important to provide them with a larger tank. Needle fish can live from three to five years in captivity, but with proper care, their lifespan can extend up to eight years. They have sharp teeth in their long, thin, and slender jaws.

In terms of their diet and feeding habits, needle fish are known to be aggressive feeders. They will contest with other tank mates for food, so it is important to ensure that they are properly fed. They are carnivorous and primarily feed on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. It is recommended to provide them with a varied diet that includes frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and small feeder fish. Feeding should be done multiple times a day in small amounts to mimic their natural feeding behavior. It is also important to monitor their feeding habits and adjust the diet accordingly to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

Temperament and Tank Setup

After considering the size and care requirements of needle fish, it is important to understand their temperament and the necessary tank setup to ensure their well-being. Needle fish have a semi-aggressive and extremely nervous temperament, which requires careful consideration when setting up their tank. A suitable tank setup for needle fish should include an elongated shallow tank with good cover and high-quality water. The tank should be spacious enough to accommodate their nervous temperament. Additionally, it is crucial to provide hiding spots and plants to create a sense of security for the fish. To further illustrate the necessary tank setup, the following table provides a visual representation:

Tank Setup for Needle Fish
Elongated Shallow Tank
Good Cover
High-Quality Water

Appearance and Characteristics

description of physical traits

The physical appearance and characteristics of needle fish are distinct and unique to this species. They possess a thin, long body shape with slender jaws that are equipped with sharp teeth. Their upper body is silvery-green in color, which gradually lightens towards the bottom. A distinguishing feature is the dark straight band along the edges near the tail. Male members often display black-edged anal and dorsal fins.

Needle fish are commonly referred to as the 'Pointed nose fish of the sea.'

In terms of their characteristics, needle fish are known for their exceptional camouflage and hunting techniques. Their slender body shape allows them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot by predators and prey alike. They are highly skilled hunters, using their sharp teeth and elongated jaws to swiftly capture their prey. This, combined with their incredible speed and agility, makes them formidable predators in their natural habitat.

Breeding Needle Fish in Captivity

Breeding needle fish in captivity requires specific tank conditions and careful monitoring of water parameters.

To successfully breed needle fish, it is important to create optimal breeding conditions in the tank. A tank size of about 75 gallons is recommended for breeding, along with maintaining water conditions such as a pH range of 7-7.5, dH range of 12-15, and a breeding temperature of 79°F.

Female needle fish will lay a small number of eggs daily on plants for several days, and these eggs will hatch in approximately 10 days. The offspring will measure nearly half an inch in size.

Compatibility With Tank Mates

tank mates compatibility guide

Needle fish are known for their semi-aggressive and nervous behavior, making it important to carefully consider their compatibility with tank mates. When it comes to tank mate compatibility, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Social Groups: Needle fish are more compatible when living in social groups with three or more mates. This helps to reduce aggression within the tank.
  2. Aggressive Feeding Behavior: Needle fish are considered aggressive feeders and will compete with other tank mates for food. It is important to ensure that all tank mates are able to get their fair share of food.
  3. Compatible Species: Needle fish are compatible with larger ray-finned fish, catfish, most cichlids, and other fish species of similar size with a semi-aggressive to aggressive temperament. It is important to avoid pairing them with smaller, more passive species that may become prey.
  4. Tank Size: Due to their semi-aggressive and nervous behavior, needle fish require a large aquarium. A tank size of more than 220 gallons is recommended for housing six or more needle fish groups.

Common Fish Diseases and Prevention

When considering the care and compatibility of needle fish in an aquarium, it is important to address the common fish diseases they may be susceptible to and the necessary prevention methods.

Needle fish can injure their beaks when disturbed or by hitting tank walls or décor. They are also susceptible to skin flukes, parasitic infestations, bacterial infections, and ichthyobodo infection.

Adding new items to the tank can introduce bacteria and diseases, so proper cleaning and isolation of new additions is necessary to maintain a balanced environment. Feeder fish should be isolated for at least one week to prevent diseases in the tank.

It is crucial to take care of the water quality and maintain a balanced environment to prevent fish diseases. By ensuring clean water and proper hygiene practices, the health and well-being of needle fish can be effectively maintained.

Maintaining Water Quality for Needle Fish

preserving water quality for needle fish

To ensure the optimal health and well-being of needle fish in an aquarium, it is essential to maintain and monitor the water quality diligently. Here are four key factors to consider for maintaining water quality for needle fish:

  1. Importance of water filtration: A high-quality filtration system is crucial for removing waste, toxins, and other impurities from the water. It helps maintain water clarity and prevents the accumulation of harmful substances that can negatively impact the fish's health.
  2. Importance of regular water testing: Regular testing of water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is essential. This allows for early detection of any imbalances or issues that may arise, enabling timely corrective actions to be taken.
  3. Proper water circulation: Adequate water circulation helps maintain oxygen levels and ensures even distribution of heat and nutrients throughout the aquarium. It also helps prevent the formation of stagnant areas where harmful substances can accumulate.
  4. Monitoring water temperature: Needle fish thrive within a temperature range of 71 to 82 F. It is crucial to monitor and maintain the water temperature within this range to provide an optimal environment for their growth and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Needle Fish Suitable for Beginner Aquarists?

Needle fish can be challenging for beginner aquarists due to their medium care level and specific tank requirements. However, with proper care, they can make fascinating pets. Common health issues include beak injuries and susceptibility to bacterial and parasitic infections.

Can Needle Fish Live With Small, Peaceful Tank Mates?

Needle fish are semi-aggressive and may not be compatible with small, peaceful tank mates like tetras. Their aggressive feeding behavior and nervous temperament make them more suitable for larger, ray-finned fish or cichlids with similar temperaments.

How Often Should Needle Fish Be Fed?

The feeding frequency for needle fish depends on their age and size. Generally, they should be fed small meals multiple times a day to ensure their nutritional needs are met. It is important to provide a varied diet consisting of live and frozen foods to keep them healthy.

Do Needle Fish Require a Specific Type of Substrate in Their Tank?

Yes, needle fish require a specific type of substrate in their tank. They prefer a fine-grained substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel, which mimics their natural habitat and allows them to bury themselves for camouflage.

Can Needle Fish Be Kept in Outdoor Ponds?

Keeping needle fish in outdoor ponds has its advantages, such as providing a more natural habitat and allowing for increased space. Ideal water conditions include a pH range of 6.5-7.5, dH range of 6-20, and a temperature between 71-82 F.


In conclusion, the Needle Fish, or Xenentodon Cancila, requires specific care to thrive in an aquarium setting.

With a size of up to 16 inches, these fish prefer a shallow tank with ample cover and high-quality water. They can be bred in captivity with specific conditions, and they prefer living in social groups with larger tank mates.

Proper maintenance of water quality is crucial to prevent common diseases. Interestingly, Needle Fish have a distinctive dark straight band near their tail, adding to their unique appearance.