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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 20 gallon with 5 rummy-nose tetras, 6 cory cats, and 5 silver hatchets. I cycled the tank with the cats for about 5 weeks before bringing in the tetras, and brought the hatchets in the week after that. The tank is heavily planted. I don't know the names of the plants, but three are very large and reach the top of the tank. I also have a few plants floating.

I always hear that hatchets will only hang out around the top of the tank, but mine have been in the middle ever since I got them. They are not eating. When I put in flakes, they pay no attention to them. Also, they are not at all active.

Any suggestions?
 

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Some stuff that will help answer the question:

How long have you had the hatchetfish?
What's your lighting situation?
What kind of filter do you have? (does it return water on the surface, create a bubble stream, something else breaking up the surface of the water?
What temperature are you keeping the tank?

Any one of those could give clues.

Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick answer.

I've only had them about three days. I have one 24" 17 watt fluorescent that came with the hood and an 18" 15 watt light called "flora gro" or something like that to help the plants. The filter is an Aqua-Clear that returns water to the surface. It creates a small bubble stream (less than two inches) under the water since it is on the low setting. The tank is about 78.
 

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What I'm thinking (may help, may be totally wrong):

It sounds like a generally good set-up. You did add the hatchets rather soon, the nitrate cycle takes about 3 weeks (it essentially does that each time you add fish).

That shouldn't be a horror, though! Hatchets are tetras and are a little sensitive to water quality. You might try a 5 or 10% water change (tomorrow should be fine - I don't know what time it is where you are). Make sure the water is at least the same temperature as the tank.

Were the fish at the surface in the store? You might wander by the fish store tomorrow (assuming it's too late tonight, again) and take a look at the tank you got them from. See if the fish are acting the same there. You might also ask how long the store has had them, if you don't know. If they came into the store less than a week before you brought them home, they might "just" be going through some extra stress.

Hopefully the other tetras are feeding. Sometimes hatchets will take a few days to settle in, and especially if wild caught or pond raised, flake food doesn't come naturally to them. Sometimes they settle in right away. Usually they'll settle in.

Watch the fish over the next day or so. See if they're pooping (if they are, they ARE eating, even if they don't seem to be eating). See if they're bellies get any hollower.

Hope that helps, even if there are some mixed messages in there. Welcome to the wonderful world of fish!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
They were at the top of the tank in the pet store. I will try a water change tomorrow.

Is it possible that the lights are too bright for them? Are hatchets usually active?
 

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Hatchets can sometimes take a while to settle in and feed. If after a week they are still not feeding try some live food on the surface like small crickets but don't feed them as soon as you open the lid of the tank wait 10 min so they settle down first. Other than that it all sounds ok good luck
 

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Just to clarify for Veronica. Her tank has been cycled and is over 6 weeks old according to her first post. ;)

I would just ask the pet store what they were feeding their Hatchet tetras. Sometimes, they just need to get used to the "new" food. I doubt that the light is the problem. One last thing, make sure you have your top covered. Hatchet fish are known to jump once they are back swimming near the top.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The top is covered. I will ask the store about food. They seem a little better today. Still not near the top, but they are venturing to different parts of the middle of the tank. Hopefully this keeps up.
Thanks for all the answers!
 

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It's been a couple months, how are they doing now?

I have the marbled ones.. my thought is that w the two bulbs maybe a tall overhanging plant would help, or throw some hornwort that floats on top.. they like a shady spot in my tank. Also I think if all the other fish are peaceful to them, they don't feel as limited to only the top of the tank. Mine definitely eat from the surface but mostly hang out 2-4 inches below the surface. here's a pic of mine~
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I actually removed some of the tops of the plants to allow more movement on the top, and they seemed to respond to that. More importantly, I bought some pellet food that doesn't sink. That way, I could open the tank and put the food in, and by the time they were through hiding from me the food was still floating. They are still very wary of me and rush behind plants every time I walk by, but now they eat and they seem playful when they don't know I'm watching.

My only question now is, how many should I have? Is a group of 3 too small?
 

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you need at least 5 to see them really have fun, I think. I hear they add less "bioload" per fish than others, bc less active & eat less.

Yeah the info you read says they like still, peaceful water, but I changed to a more powerful filter yesterday, and mine were playing in the current & seemed thrilled about the change!
 
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