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. Dither fish can also be used to disarm and diffuse fish-bullying aggression so they don’t have to pick on 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.
The livebearers are fish that can bear young and are friendly and colorful. Plus, they reproduce readily, and even their fry will boldly swim everywhere without a care in the world. These brave livebearers babies are more likely to be seen by skittish fish than any other species.
To break up tension between two angelfish, you can add a few mollies, swordtails or other large livebearers to help them fight. The livebearers can swim all over the place, and will easily encroach on their personal space. The angelfish can’t keep all the dither fish away from their territory so they may give up trying to protect their borders. Yes, the angelfish may eat some of the livebearer fry that wander too close, but this helps keep their population under control so that you are not 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 schooling fish groups are well-known for their sleek, torpedo-shaped bodies. They can escape from even the most angry tank bosses with ease. Although they are small, some rasboras, tetras, and some rasboras, can be quite wary. However, they tend to become braver as you increase the size of their school, so get at least 6-12 fish of the same species.
You might choose a small schooling fish to help a shy nanofish feel more confident. A larger schooling fish will not be eaten if you are trying to placate a belligerent or large fish. Here are some options based on size.
Rummy nose Tetras are known for being very close-knit schooling fish, which swim in a tight group and then change direction like a huge herd. This behavior tends to confuse predators because they have a harder time catching a single fish that is surrounded by a hoard of 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. If you have bigger fish like blood parrots that are capable of swallowing smaller corys, then go for their larger but similar-looking cousins, the Brochis catfish. In fact, you can keep livebearers, tetras, and corys all together in a community tank that is filled with lively 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. You will need larger, faster-schooling fish such as giant danios, Devario aequipinnatus, and hill trouts, Barilius spp. You have a greater chance of escape from 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 very confident and colorful schooling species that calmly swim around and can help pacify other, more nervous species.
Hill trout are speedy swimmers capable of traveling in fast-flowing streams, so try not to pair them with slower fish who may get outcompeted during mealtimes.
5. Pencilfish and Hatchetfish
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 perfect for ram or Apistogramma dwarf cichlids that are guarding their babies down 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 have a reputation for swimming at 45 degrees to the surface. This is why they are often called the diptail and 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.