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Wrestling Halfbeak

wrestling halfbeak

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Scientific Name:    Dermogenys pusilla       
Min. Tank Size:   20 Gallons       
Personality:   Peaceful/Males may quarrel       
Temperature:   75-82°F       
pH:   7.0-8.0/10-20°dGH      
Size:   2.5-3"       
Diet:   Carnivore       
Breeding:   Livebearer       


 Best kept in groups with others of its own species; can be kept with similarly sized Livebearers, Rainbowfish, Gobies, Glassfish and Mollies.

Wrestling Halfbeak

Also known as the Malayan Halfbeak, Wrestling Halfbeaks are named for their elongated lower jaws. The "wrestling" portion of the name is derived from the tendency of the males of this species to fight, locking jaws with each other as they do. Some countries use this species as fighting fish, forcing males of the species to spar by keeping them in close quarters. These fish are found throughout portions of India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia as well as other parts of south-eastern Asia. Wrestling Halfbeaks tend to inhabit slow-flowing waters such as canals, rivers, ditches and flooded fields. During the rainy season they can also be found in semi-brackish environments such as mangrove swamps.

Tank Set-up

Because these fish spend most of their time near the surface of the water, a tank with a greater surface area is more important than a deep tank. Additionally, a layer of plants around the sides of the aquarium will help to prevent damage to their lower jaw in the event they become alarmed and crash into the sides. The Wrestling Halfbeak may take some time to adjust when first introduced to the tank and they are excellent jumpers, so a layer of floating plants and a tight-fitting lid is recommended! Locating the tank in a quiet area of the home, away from high traffic areas, is also a good idea.


Wrestling Halfbeaks feed exclusively from the water's surface and they are most likely to accept live foods like fruit flies, Daphnia, mosquito larvae, bloodworms and brine shrimp. To help maintain optimum health, feed a varied diet and resist the habit of feeding only one food type.


Though it is possible to breed this species in captivity, Wrestling Halfbeaks are more difficult to breed than most Livebearers. Even if these fish breed successfully, it is not uncommon for the fry to be still-born. Conditioning the breeding pair on healthy live foods may reduce the chances of this happening. After a gestation period of between 3 and 6 weeks, depending on the tank temperature, the fry will be born. The average brood size for this species is usually between 10 and 20 fry.

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