Information, Characiformes (Characins), Freshwater fish, Other Characins, Species

Striped Headstander (Anostomus anostomus)

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by Jason Matthews



The Striped Headstander is a one-of-a-kind and fascinating freshwater fish that has piqued the interest of many aquarium enthusiasts. It’s no surprise that it’s a popular choice among pet fish owners, given its distinct appearance, quirky behavior, and ease of maintenance. 

This article will dive into the world of Headstander Fish, exploring their origins, physical characteristics, size, gender differences, behavior patterns, tank requirements, suitable tank mates, dietary needs, breeding habits, and disease prevention.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully care for a Striped Headstander, whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate fish keeper.


Scientific Name: Anostomus anostomus
Common Names: Striped headstander, striped anostomus
Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
Adult Size: Up to 8 inches


HabitatFreshwater rivers and lakes in West Africa
OriginWest Africa
Care LevelIntermediate
DietOmnivorous, accepts a variety of live and frozen foods, pellets, and vegetable matter
Tank LevelBottom
Minimum Tank Size75 gallons
Water pH6.0-8.0
Water Temperature72-82°F
Water Hardness8-20° dH
Tank MatesPeaceful community fish

Fun Fact Corner

One interesting fact about Striped headstander is that, as the name implies, they swim upside down! This behavior distinguishes them from other fish species and adds a unique and quirky element to your aquarium. They use their upside-down swimming to find food and interact with other fish, making your tank more exciting and dynamic. So, if you want to add excitement and variety to your aquarium, consider adding a Headstander Fish to your collection!


The Striped headstander’s origins can be traced back to freshwater rivers and streams in South America, specifically the Amazon Basin. These fish are members of the Anostomidae family and can be found in places like Brazil, Peru, and Columbia. 

The Striped headstander has adapted to the fast-moving waters of its native habitat, allowing it to develop distinctive swimming patterns that distinguish it from other freshwater fish species. Because of its popularity as a pet, fish species have been introduced to other countries and successfully cultivated in aquariums worldwide. 

This species is a one-of-a-kind addition to any aquarium, and its origins demonstrate the incredible biodiversity of South American freshwater ecosystems.

Appearance & Size

One of the most distinguishing and recognizable characteristics of the Striped headstander is its appearance. Striped headstander’s body color varies, but it is usually silver with a metallic sheen and a black stripe running down its sides. Their dorsal and anal fins are long and pointed, and they have a large, triangular caudal fin that contributes to their distinctive swimming patterns. 

The Striped headstander has a large, slightly pointed head, a small mouth, and large, protruding eyes. These characteristics, combined with its distinct swimming style, make the Headstander Fish a visually appealing addition to any aquarium.

When fully grown, the Striped headstander can reach lengths of 6 to 8 inches. They are small fish that do well in medium to large aquariums.


Specific physical characteristics of Striped headstander can be used to determine their gender. Male Headstanders have larger and more colorful markings than females and a deeper body shape. Female Headstanders, on the other hand, are typically plumper and more rounded. These distinctions are most noticeable during breeding season when male Headstanders exhibit full breeding potential. 


Striped headstander have a distinct behavior that adds to their appeal as a pet fish species. They are active, energetic fish swimming upside down, giving them their name. Because of their swimming style, they can feed on surface-dwelling organisms and insects that other fish may not be able to reach. Headstanders are generally peaceful fish that thrive in community aquariums with other peaceful species.

However, if their tank is overcrowded or there needs to be more hiding places and territories, they can become territorial and aggressive toward each other. It is critical to provide adequate space and to regularly maintain the tank’s water conditions to maintain a harmonious community. Because Striped headstanders are sensitive to sudden changes in water conditions, it is critical to acclimate them gradually to any new environment. 

Maintaining a balanced ratio of male-to-female Headstanders in the aquarium is critical because too many males can cause aggressive behavior and stress in the fish. A ratio of 1 male to 2-3 females is recommended to promote a peaceful and harmonious community within the tank.


When considering tankmates for Striped headstander, choosing compatible species in terms of size, temperament, and water conditions is essential. 

Good tankmates for Striped headstander include:

  • Other peaceful species of fish such as tetras, rasboras, and catfish
  • Bottom dwelling species such as corydoras or loaches
  • Shrimp, snails, and other invertebrates

It is important to avoid keeping Striped headstander with aggressive or territorial species that may harm or stress them. Headstander Fish can thrive in a community aquarium with suitable tankmates and conditions, displaying their distinct behaviors and personalities

Tank conditions

It is critical to provide proper tank conditions for Headstander Fish to maintain their health and well-being. They prefer well-oxygenated, slightly acidic, to neutral water with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. The water temperature should be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a temperature gradient across the tank allowing for temperature variation within the aquarium. 

Ample filtration and aeration are also required to keep water quality and stability stable. 

In addition to proper water conditions, adequate lighting is necessary to promote healthy algae growth and simulate the natural daylight cycle. It is also recommended that regular water changes be performed to maintain water quality and prevent the accumulation of harmful waste. Striped headstanders will thrive and display their unique and fascinating behaviors in a well-maintained tank environment.

It is critical to give them enough space to swim and keep the water in their tank properly. Striped headstander, despite their small size, are active and energetic fish that require ample space to thrive. Keeping them in an undersized tank can cause stress and other health issues, so picking the right tank size for your individual fish is critical.


When it comes to feeding Striped headstander, providing a varied and balanced diet is critical. Headstanders eat algae, small invertebrates, and detritus in the wild. In the aquarium, they can be fed various commercial fish foods such as flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods. It is preferable to provide them small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals. This mimics their natural feeding behavior and helps to prevent overfeeding and water pollution. 

In addition to a varied diet, it is critical to provide access to raw food sources in the tank, such as live plants and algae, to support their overall health and well-being. A varied diet and proper tank conditions will help Headstander Fish thrive and maintain their vibrant coloration and unique behaviors.


Even experienced aquarium hobbyists may need help to breed Headstander Fish. These fish are rarely bred in captivity, and there needs to be more information on their breeding habits. On the other hand, those interested in producing these unusual fish must provide optimal tank conditions, including proper water temperature, pH, and hardness levels, and a varied and balanced diet. 

A breeding pair of Headstander Fish should also be kept in a separate tank to allow for proper courtship and spawning. To avoid predation by other tank mates, eggs should be removed to a separate tank or hatching container once laid. 

The eggs will hatch in about 2-3 days, and the fry will be able to swim freely in another 2-3 days. Small, live foods such as baby brine shrimp should be fed to the fry until they are large enough to accept other foods. Breeding Headstander Fish can be a rewarding experience for those who are committed to providing the best conditions and care for these unusual fish.


Striped headstander, like all aquatic pets, are vulnerable to many diseases. To avoid illness, keep their tank conditions optimal and perform regular water changes to maintain water quality. Fin rot, ich, and bacterial infections are all common fish diseases. These diseases cause abnormal swimming behavior, decreased appetite, and visible changes in the fins and skin of the fish. If a fish shows signs of illness, it should be isolated in a separate tank and evaluated by a veterinarian or aquatic specialist to determine the cause and best course of treatment. Regular water quality monitoring and timely intervention can help prevent disease spread in the tank and keep your Headstander Fish healthy and happy.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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