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Tiny Monster fish Platinum Wrestling Halfbeak

Tiny Monster fish Platinum Wrestling Halfbeak

  Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks (Dermogenys Pusilla)

   Metallic Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks can be easily missed when walking through the aisles of a fish store. The reason for that Big mistake is unknown heh! but I will blame their small cute size for that. In this blog I will make sure this Cute Little Monsters aren't over looked EVER again.

   Years ago, the little Wrestling Halfbeaks were just another fish to me. It all changed one day when I had spare time on my hands, I slowly observed every single tank I passed on the fish store. That is when I noticed some small bright reflections on the surface of a planted tank, coming from the lowest tanks placed on the bottom row. "What is that?" I asked my self as I kneeled down to observe with tremendous curiosity                                                                         

   I could not believe my eyes, they were puny baby Gars!... or that's what I thought at least. Here is a picture of two real Gars, wow right?                                               

   I rapidly asked one of the fresh water fish specialists "Are these baby Platinum Gars?" he said "No, but they sure look like them don't they?" I said "Yes, yes they do... wait! so if they are not Baby Gars what are they?" He smiled and said "These are young adult Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks" My curiosity grew bigger, fast, after hearing "Young adults" now I really had to know everything about them, even if I couldn't keep them in my tanks. And of course just like most of you reading this blog, I literally bombed the fish specialist with questions.

    Now after a decade later I am still in love with this Puny Monster Fish and I have to say that the platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks are one of my most favorite fish ever. I will share with you all my wonderful experience with the intention that these amazing little fish become one of your favorite too.

   If you are new with Platinum Halfbeaks I am sure you've been waiting for me to say how big they grow. Well, I was amazed to know that females max out at 2.8" inches and males stay shorter at only 2.2" inches.

    If you are looking for quick facts here they are, if you are hooked and want to know more keep reading, I won't waste your time.

    Fast Facts: Platinum Wrestling Halfbeak 

    • Scientific Name: Dermogenys pusilla
    • Distribution: South-East Asia
    • Max size Male: 2.2" inches
    • Max size Female: 2.8" inches
    • Aquarium size: Standard 10 gallon for 1 pair. Ideally 20 gallon Long for a decent group.
    • PH: 6.5-8.0
    • Hardness: 10-20 dGH
    • Temperature: 76-81 Fahrenheit
    • Care Level: Moderate
    • Diet: Omnivore/Insectivore
    • Breeding type: Viviparous
    • Temperament: Territorial/Peaceful
    • Life expectancy: 2-3 years
    • Sexual Dimorphism: Anal fin is different (The Anal fin of males is modified to form an Andropodium.)
    • Breeding: Captivity/Easy


   Dermogenys Pusilla are known by different common names like Silver Wrestling Halfbeak, Platinum Wrestling Halfbeak and Malayan Halfbeak. They are found in a lot of places in nature like India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

                           Their Natural Habitat

   They are commonly found in slow-flowing or still water biotopes, including rivers, ditches, canals, flooded fields, lakes and ponds. Some of these biotopes are stagnant and will typically contain a lot of surface vegetation like Floating or semi floating plants that don't develop good root systems and semi aquatic marsh plants growing near the edge of the water. During rainy season they are  occasionally seen in semi brackish conditions around Mangrove swamps. A lot of Fauna travel temporarily to brackish environments during rainy seasons due to the temperatures and salinity level changes that are caused by the increase of water flowing in from rivers.    

                   Recommended Aquarium size 

   The territorial temperament of the Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks makes it wrong to keep a large group in such a small tank. A pair can be kept safely in a 10 gallon Aquarium, but the ideal minimum size Aquarium is a 20 gallon long. This tank provides very specific dimensions aimed toward more Horizontal swimming space instead of the Standar tall tanks aimed towards displaying the fish better. Everybody loves a deep aquarium and you can utilize one if you have it, but in this case Surface area is more important than depth with this species, as it spends most of its time gliding just under the water surface. The max size of a female which is larger than a male is barely 2.8" inches, this makes it very easy to keep in not so big tanks, nonetheless longer tanks will give them a happy life.

          How to Aquascape a tank for Halfbeaks

    Floating plants are excellent because it's a particularly flighty species, specially when it is introducedw to a new Aquarium. The ideal aquatic plants for the Halfbeaks are tall and fast growing like, Jungle Vallinsneria and Anacharis. The addition of these plants or any other waterweeds around the edges of the Aquarium will lessen the possibility of it crushing its delicate beak by ramming into the glass.                               

   Tall pieces of rock or thin wood will also create barriers between them, this helps keep a safe distance from each other for their territorial behavior. Thin pieces of driftwood hanging from the surface mimics vines or roots, this makes a natural looking Aquascape. 

                            Water Conditions

   Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks are not picky fish at all. This is another reason to love this tiny Monsters. They adapt to a wide range of parameters, it can't get any easier than this, but of course drastic changes should be made cautiously to avoid Osmotic Shock.

  • PH: 6.5-8.0
  • Hardness: 10-20 dGH
  • Temperature: 76-81 Fahrenheit

           What can I feed my Wrestling Halfbeaks

   Their diet and feeding habit gives them part of their nickname as Tiny Monster Fish. In nature their main diet consists of small insects that fall into the water and even small fry. They are classified as Omnivores and Insectivores. One of their main diets is Mosquito larva which can easily be found in just about every puddle water. In captivity I've always tried to replicate that and provide them with as much nutrition they need for a healthy life. This is what I've always had under their cabinet and in the freezer. They are not picky at all but incase they reject floating dry food try giving it motion to resemble a live bug. I love adding a couple pellets and blowing at them very gently, this causes the pellets to spin around and triggers the Voracious Monster in them. I am laughing as I write all this for you guys... they just become so personal. Feeding Flightless Fruit Flies will unleash the Inner monster in them.

  • Dry food: Hikari Micro Pellets, Hikari Fancy Guppy
  • Frozen food: Chopped Blood Worms (for young 1.5" or under), Whole Brine Shrimp, Whole Spirulina Brine Shrimp  
  • Live food: Flightless fruit flies, Mosquito Larva are great just make sure they get eaten.

    How to tell apart male & female Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks

   Identifying different genders if very easy specially if they are almost full-grown. The best way to do this is by closely observing the anal fin. The female will have a noticeably larger anal fin. Not only that but it will be triangle shaped. The Male in the other hand will have a more slender narrow S shaped anal fin know as Andropodium similar to guppies. Males will also be very brightly colored in comparison to the same age female. But don't fall blindly for the color method as you will come across very nice female specimens with great coloration. This is another reason why I love them. The fact that once you can identify them perfectly you will notice how they don't all look the same. This will make it so much fun to go on hunting for specific traits for your next breeding projects, we will touch on this shortly. The fact they are all unique, makes it a more personal fish when you select specific ones for specific reasons... it also makes it easier to name them LOL.                                                     

      How to breed Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks

   Breeding them is not as easy as many other livebearers, although it is certainly possible. The difficulty does not lie with inducing the fish to breed, but that many females give birth to still-born fry. It is said that this is directly related to malnutrition of the fish according to other Authors. It makes sense but it is a mistake that can easily be avoided with a nutritious diet to prep them as I suggested above. Breeding these halfbeaks is something most fish keepers can do. All it takes is a Male and Female, warm water, a few plants floating on the surface and a live or frozen diet to nourish and  motivate them. They will shortly begin courtship, some chasing around the tank is normal as the male attempts to convince the female he is worthy to create little monster fish with her. Gestation can take anywhere from three to six weeks.This is the time it takes for the babies to fully develop into tiny monster fish like dad. The newborn fry will try to rocket out of the mother's back when it's time to come out. This is a natural survival instinct as they are immediately hunted by any other fish specially of the same species.                                                  

If left in the same tank with a large colony the survival rate will be lower than normal, as there will be watchers behind the female waiting for them to come out. The female releases internal fluids that are immediately detected by other Halfbeaks nearby. Their senses are activated like sharks just waiting for the right moment to strike. Know that if your goal is to keep as many babies alive, you must remove them to a breeding net or a separate tank. The way I used to do it was the easiest and less effort and stress on my part, are you ready?... Just load the breeding tank with plants floating on the top. Yes, Stack It Up, believe me, if you don't want to see cute little newborn monsters being devoured just stack it up with plants. Again, I recommend Anacharis because its dense, cheap, it grows fast and its easy to find. Other alternatives would be Guppy Grass, or Jungle Vals.                                                        

           Compatibility with Dermogenys Pusilla

   Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks are very peaceful fish, but they should be housed with Tropical fish with similar water conditions and temperament. Since they can be kept in fresh and Brackish water environments we will separate the two different groups.

  • Freshwater: Livebearers like guppies, smaller Rainbowfish, Cory Cats, Otto Cats, Scarlet Badis, Kuhli Loaches, Asian Stone Cats and peaceful freshwater Gobies.
  • Brackish water: Small Glassfish (Parambassis sp.), Bumblebee Gobies and Mollies. Don’t keep it with any much larger or more aggressive species, as it can become shy and will be easily outcompeted for food.

    Keeping them in larger groups is possible, it helps keeps any aggression dispersed and they will usually be less skittish this way. Males will often spar by locking jaws, this fights can last a few minutes Wrestling to prove themselves hence their name. Serious damage is rarely seen unless the tanks is to small and the weakest opponent cannot escape the winner. The loser Halfbeak will dart away from the dominant fish, he can shatter his beak if space is very restricted. It is best to keep either a single male specimen or several in order to disperse the aggression. The plants floating on the top make a huge difference for these confrontations.

                                    Fun Facts  

   One of the very cool things that you will soon discover about these little guys, is that size don't matter to them. Platinum Halfbeaks are not easily intimidate by you either. This is one of the things I love about them, because you can easily train them to feed off your hands. Even sometimes while doing maintenance, their curiosity will make them bite the bubbles in your hand.

    To train them to eat off your hands all you have to do is wait till feeding time. If they are full they will make no effort to eat. Grab one piece of blood worm or something tasty, keep the worm close to the water about half an inch away. As soon as they see the food they will swim right under it and if interested they will start curling their tails almost like snakes. This means they are getting ready to make the jump of their life for that easy worm. If they don't give it a try but seem interested, just lower the food a tad bit more. Be careful that they don't accidentally jump out of the tank, so just practice this in the middle of the tank. You'll be surprised to see how high they can jump if needed, they are related to Flying fish indeed. 

   If you don't want them to jump for their food you can use a tooth pick to hold a worm or pellet on the surface and they will immediately snatch the food off. Sometimes I trigger their hunting instinct by making them chase their food gliding the worm on the water's surface

     One of the things I love about their physical, is the platinum color that seems to run in to the eye. This gives them an aggressive look in my personal opinion. As I already said before, they don't all look the same, some have clear normal looking eyes without any platinum pigmentation. In the past I have done Non scientific testing, to see if the specimens with clear eyes had better eyesight than those with platinum covered eyes. The Non Scientific results were pleasant, they all responded equally to the reaction tests I performed on them. My favorite Platinum Wrestling Halfbeaks are the ones with platinum eyes making them seem like if they are sporting Snowboarding Goggles.

   I hope this Blog inspires you to give these tiny monsters a place in your hearts. If you have Monster Fish keeper friends, make sure to share this blog with them, maybe these tiny monsters will become their next favorite pet. 



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