Top 5 Dither Fish to Help Shy or Aggressive Fish
If you have timid or territorial fish in your aquarium, try calming them down with dither fish. Dither fish are very outgoing and like to be out in the open. Dither fish are confident and show that they don’t fear danger. A large group of dither fish also helps to distract and diffuse the hostility from fish bullies so that they can’t single out any one fish. Learn more about the best dither fish that can change the dynamics of your fish tank and give you a more active community aquarium to enjoy.
Fish that live to be a living fish are those that are able to bear young. Most of the pets store types (e.g. platies, guppies and mollies), are very friendly and bright. Their eggs are prolific and can be found anywhere they want. They are more likely than ever to emerge when they see the brave babies of their livebearer parents, which is why skittish fish will often be drawn to them.
If you have two angelfish that keep fighting over territory, try adding a bunch of mollies, swordtails, or other larger livebearer to break up the tension. The livebearers will be able to swim around and easily invade their space. The angelfish can’t keep all the dither fish away from their territory so they may give up trying to protect their borders. Although the angelfish might eat some livebearer eggs that are too close, this helps to keep them under control and ensures that they don’t become overrun with babies.
Many livebearers are easy-going and carefree which can help semi-aggressive species such as angelfish chill out.
2. Tetras and Rasboras
Both schools of schooling fish are famous for their torpedo-shaped, streamlined bodies. This makes them fast enough to escape any tank boss. Yes, some tetras and rasboras can be a little on the wary side themselves, especially since most of them are under 3 inches in size. You can make them braver by increasing the number of fish in their school. So, get at least 6-12 fish of each species.
A schooling fish that is small and shy can be used to encourage a timid nano fish. A larger schooling fish will not be eaten if you are trying to placate a belligerent or large fish. Depending on your needs, here are some suggestions categorized by size:
Rummy nose tetras in particular are known to be very tight schooling fish that swim and change direction together like a giant herd. This behavior confuses predators as they are less likely to catch a single fish surrounded by multiple doppelgangers.
There’s nothing quite like watching a large group of rummy nose tetras swimming in perfect synchronization.
While tetras and rasboras often swim in the middle level of the aquarium, cory catfish stay down low near the floor, constantly scavenging for food out in the open. Cory catfish are a great dither fish for bottom dwellers such as Apistogramma or kribensis, who want to know when their babies can come out to feed. Corydoras can be great members of the clean-up crew. They thrive in groups of six or more of their own species. There are many types to choose. Brochis catfish are larger and more capable of swallowing smaller corys if you have blood parrots or other large fish. Livebearers, corys, and tetras can all be kept together in a community tank filled with dither fish.
Albino corydoras are one of the most sociable catfish you can find, and they love eating frozen bloodworms, freeze-dried tubifex worms, and sinking pellets.
4. Danios & Rainbowfish
Jack Dempsey, a predator of medium to large size, and oscar Cichlids are sometimes uncharacteristically shy and inclined to hide. In those cases, you want bigger, super fast schooling fish like giant danios (Devario aequipinnatus) and hill trouts (Barilius spp.) They are more likely to escape their jaws. These ditherfish are known for their ability to actively dart around at a million mph and break into other’s territory. Rainbowfish are a confident, colorful and calm schooling species that can help calm other more anxious species.
Hill trout have a speedy swimming ability and can travel in fast-flowing rivers. They are best when paired with slower fish to avoid being outcompeted during meals.
5. Pencilfish, Hatchetfish, and Pencilfish
What if you have shy fish you want spawn, but don’t want their babies to be eaten by the ditherfish? Look out for fish that live at the top of the aquarium, such as hatchetfish or pencilfish. These surface dwellers mostly swim in the upper third of the aquarium and have tiny, upward facing mouths that prefer eating floating foods from above. This is a great place for Apistogramma dwarf Cichlids or Ram, who are protecting their babies near the substrate. Hatchetfish and pencilfish rarely come down to feed and typically won’t eat fry unless they accidentally swim up top. When you feed the aquarium, the skittish fish will see the dither fish rushing to grab a bite, so then they will feel more comfortable coming out to feed as well.
Nannostomus eques are known for swimming near the surface at a 45-degree angle, which is why they are sometimes called the diptail or hockeystick pencilfish.
Dither fish can bring out the best behavior in your aquarium by coaxing fish out of hiding, putting the tank bosses at ease, and increasing the activity level overall. If you are looking for some fun fish to try, visit our retail store in Edmunds, Washington or check out our favorite online fish sellers.