10 Types Of Pencil Fish & What They Need!

Last Updated on 2023-08-31

Pencilfish are known to add a special touch to aquariums with their slim bodies and awesome colors. Whether you’re a fish expert or just starting out, Pencilfish are here to bring some excitement to your tank. 

So, let’s explore the different kinds of Pencilfish and learn how you can give them the best care possible. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

Types Of Pencil Fish

Now let’s go over some of the most popular types of Pencilfish among fish keepers and what makes them special.

Barred Pencilfish

Barred Pencilfish Care Sheet

The Barred Pencilfish is a beautiful Pencilfish that moves through your tank like a work of art. It’s long and thin, with black stripes running down its body. These fish are peaceful and make your tank feel calm. Originally from South America, these fish like slow-moving water and lots of plants. 

And to enjoy their beauty, set up a tank with plenty of plants and soft lighting. They’re friendly with other peaceful fish, so they’re great for community tanks. Whether you’re a fish expert or just starting out, the Barred Pencilfish is a great addition to any tank.

NameBarred Pencilfish
Tank Size15 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Brown/Hockeystick Pencilfish

Brown Pencilfish Care Sheet

Next up, we have the Brown Pencilfish, a fish that’s all about simple beauty. It has colors like what you’d find in nature, making it soothing to look at. Their bodies are sleek, and they shimmer a bit, making them stand out.r

These fish come from South America and like places with gentle currents and lots of plants. To make them happy, set up a tank with nice plants and soft light. During the day, they’re active and swim around, so you’ll always have something to watch. They’re friendly with other calm fish, so they’re also good for tanks with different fish.

NameBrown/Hockey Stick Pencilfish
Tank Size15 Gallons
Lifespan4-5 Years

Cenepa Red Pencilfish

Red Pencil Fish Care Sheet

The Cenepa Red Pencilfish is another beautiful Pencilfish that will add a splash of color to your tank. It’s small but lively, and it loves to swim around in the middle and upper parts of the tank. 

These fish are native to clear waters, so they prefer calm water with plenty of plants. 

If you provide them with a suitable home, you’ll enjoy watching them swim around and explore their surroundings.

NameCenepa Red Pencilfish
Tank Size20 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Coral Red Pencilfish

The Coral Red Pencilfish is another fantastic-looking Pencilfish that will add a splash of color to your tank. Its red scales will remind you of coral, making your tank look like a mini underwater world. These fish are calm and peaceful, and they like to swim around plants.

They also come from South America, where they live in slow-moving waters with lots of plants. If you want your Coral Red Pencilfish to thrive, set up your tank with plants and slow-moving water. 

They’ll swim around peacefully, looking like they’re in their own little world. They’re also good friends with other peaceful non-aggressive fish.

NameCoral Red Pencilfish
Tank Size15 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Dwarf Pencilfish

Dwarf Pencil Fish Care Sheet

Dwarf Pencilfish might be little, but they’re still amazing, with their small size and simple beauty, they’re like little pieces of art in your tank. These fish love to be in places that look like their homes in South America; slow-moving water and plants. And to make them happy, give them a tank with nice plants and dim light. 

When you watch them swim near the top, you’ll see how they enjoy their little adventures. They’re friendly with other calm fish, so they’re great for tanks with a mix of fish. 

NameDwarf Pencilfish
Tank Size10 Gallons
Lifespan3-5 Years

Elegant Pencilfish

With their slender bodies and subtle colors, Elegant Pencilfish bring a touch of elegance to any fish tank. They are peaceful fish that get along well with other peaceful fish, making them ideal tank mates. Watching them swim gracefully through the water is like watching a ballet performance.

Elegant Pencilfish are native to South America, where they live in slow-moving waters with plenty of plants. To make them feel at home in your tank, provide them with a similar environment, including plants and soft lighting. 

NameElegant Pencilfish
Tank Size20 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Golden/Beckfords Pencilfish

Beckford Pencilfish Care Sheet

Golden Pencilfish are a type of fish that can add a touch of sunshine to your tank. They are calm and peaceful, and their golden color is like a ray of happiness in the water. They originate from South America, where they live in slow-moving water with lots of plants. 

If you want to keep Golden Pencilfish in your tank, it’s important to provide them with a similar environment. A tank with plants and peaceful water will make them feel comfortable. As you watch them swim around, you’ll see how their golden color lights up the tank. 

NameBeckford/Golden Pencilfish
Tank Size10 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Purple Pencilfish

Purple Pencilfish are beautiful, peaceful fish that add a touch of luxury to any tank. They’re known for their deep purple color, which makes them look like gems in the water. Purple Pencilfish thrive in environments with gentle water flow and plenty of aquatic plants. 

You can create a comfortable home for them by adding lots of plants to your tank. As you watch your Purple Pencilfish swim, you’ll notice that they’re friendly with other non-aggressive fish. So if you’re looking for a splendid purple fish to add to your tank, the Purple Pencilfish is a great choice.

NamePurple Pencilfish
Tank Size20 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

Three Lined Pencilfish

Three Lined Pencilfish Care Sheet

The three-lined pencilfish is a small, colorful fish that comes from the Amazon River in South America, where the current is not too fast and not too still. These fish have silver bodies with three stripes that go from their head to their tail. They’re friendly and like to swim together in groups. 

NameThree Lined Pencilfish
Tank Size20 Gallons
Lifespan5 Years

One Lined Pencilfish

One Lined Pencilfish Care Sheet

The One Lined Pencilfish proves that a single detail can be truly captivating. It’s known for its long body with a pale to olive-brown back and a shiny gold-colored line that goes from its snout to its eye. 

They’re not really picky eaters and can get along with other fish friends in the tank. To create a comfortable home for it, consider setting up a tank with plenty of plants and a gentle water current. 

NameOne Lined Pencilfish
Tank Size20 Gallons
Lifespan4-5 Years

How To Setup A Tank For Pencilfish

Creating an optimal home for your pencilfish companions requires careful planning and proper knowledge. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Tank Selection and Size

Choose an adequately sized tank, around 20 gallons or larger, allowing ample space for your pencilfish to explore and swim freely.

No products found.

2. Substrate and Decor

Lay a fine-grain substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel, to simulate their natural habitat. Enhance the aesthetics with plants and decorations that provide hiding spots and visual interest.

3. Adding a Heater

Install a reliable heater to maintain a consistent water temperature within the preferred range based on the type of Pencilfish that you own.

Marineland Precision Heater for Saltwater or Freshwater Aquariums
  • This 75 watt heater is for aquariums up to 20 gallons. Adjustable temperature dial allows you to set the temperature 1 degree with every click.

4. Adding A Filter

Set up an efficient filter system to ensure proper water circulation and maintain optimal water quality.

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration,black, 20 – 30 Gallon Aquarium, 150 GPH
  • WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration.

5. Water Conditioning

Condition your water using a water conditioner to eliminate chlorine and chloramine. If you’re not sure which water conditioner to use, then check out this article!

Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner – Chemical Remover and Detoxifier 250 ml
  • POWERFUL TREATMENT: Seachem Prime is a complete and concentrated conditioner for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, working hard to remove chlorine and chloramine.

6. Aquascaping with Plants

Add some aquatic plants, like Anubias and Java Fern, with broad leaves resembling their native environment. These plants offer shelter and contribute to their overall well-being.

7. Acclimating Your Pencilfish

Gradually acclimate your pencilfish to the tank by floating their bag for 15-20 minutes. Gently release them into the tank to minimize stress.

8. Providing a Varied Diet

Offer a diverse diet that includes high-quality flakes, small worms, and suitable foods to fulfill their nutritional needs.

TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes, Cleaner and Clearer Water Formula 7.06 Ounce (Pack of 1)
  • TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible flake blend for use as staple food for all tropical fish.

9. Monitoring Water Parameters

Regularly test water parameters, such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and hardness, to maintain optimal conditions for your pencilfish.

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, White, Single, Multi-colored
  • Contains one (1) API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, including 7 bottles of testing solutions, 1 color card and 4 tubes with cap

10. Adding Decorations

Enhance the tank with tunnels, driftwood, and decorations that encourage exploration, fostering a stimulating environment for your pencilfish.

(If you want a complete guide on how to setup your fish tank, then this is the article for you!)

What Can Live With Pencil Fish?

Here are 10 excellent choices that make ideal companions for Pencilfish to create a harmonious aquarium.


Tetras are a popular choice as tankmates for pencilfish. They come in various colors and sizes and share similar peaceful and social behaviors. Neon tetras, ember tetras, and cardinal tetras are known to coexist well with pencilfish.


Many types of barbs are compatible with pencilfish. Rosy barbs, cherry barbs, and gold barbs are known to create a lively and colorful aquarium community alongside pencilfish.


Chili Rasbora/Dwarf Rasbora

Rasboras are small, peaceful fish that are ideal tank mates for pencilfish. Fish such as harlequin rasboras and galaxy rasboras can create a beautiful and lively school of fish in your tank.


Guppies are easy to care for and come in many different colors and patterns. They’re peaceful fish that like to swim around a lot, so they’re a good choice to keep with other fish like pencilfish.


Mollies are hardy, low-maintenance fish with a unique shape and active nature. They’re peaceful with most fish but nippy with long-finned fish. They jump, so having lids are a must. Overall, they’re a great choice for beginners.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras catfish are known bottom-dwellers that help keep the tank clean. Their peaceful nature and small size make them excellent companions for pencilfish.


Platies are peaceful, live-bearing fish that can add a splash of color to your tank. They are known for their social nature and can live well with pencilfish.


swordtail fish

Swordtails are another live-bearing fish that can be compatible with pencilfish. Swordtails are also known for their long, sword-like tail, which gives them their name.  They come in various colors and patterns and makes your tank even more interesting.

Dwarf Cichlids

Dwarf cichlids are pretty, peaceful fish that can share a tank with pencilfish. They live in different parts of the tank: dwarf cichlids usually stay near the bottom, while pencilfish stay near the top. This helps them use all the space in the tank and prevents them from fighting over territory.

Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose plecos are efficient algae eaters that thrive in soft, acidic water. They’re a good choice for community tanks with Pencilfish but can be territorial with other plecos. In keeping them, make sure to choose tough plants to avoid nibbling.


Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about the different types of pencilfish!

How Many Pencilfish Are There?

There are approximately 19 different types of Pencilfish. Each has its own distinctive appearance, unique qualities, and behavior.

What Is The Largest Pencilfish?

Harrison’s pencilfish is recognized for its size and is a notable member of the pencilfish family. They grow up to a length of approximately 2.75 inches, making them the largest known pencilfish species to date.

What Is The Smallest Pencilfish?

The Dwarf Pencilfish takes the prize for the smallest Pencilfish species, with adults measuring about 1.2 inches in length.

Are Pencilfish Aggressive?

Pencilfish are generally quite peaceful and get along well with other calm fish. They prefer a tranquil environment, and their interactions are more about swimming together than causing trouble.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Pencilfish?

On average, Pencilfish live for about 3 to 5 years in well-maintained aquariums. Providing them with a comfortable and suitable environment, along with a balanced diet, can contribute to a healthy and fulfilling life for your Pencilfish.

Can Pencilfish Live With Guppies?

Pencilfish and guppies can often coexist harmoniously in the same tank. Pencilfish are generally peaceful and don’t pose a threat to guppies. But, it’s important to make sure the tank has enough room for everyone and places to hide. 


From the fancy Purple Pencilfish to the interesting Three-Lined Pencilfish, each one has its own story to tell. Not only do they look amazing, but they also live well with other tank mates. When you add Pencilfish to your tank and give them the best care possible, you‘ll have a thriving community of happy fish!

Tropical Fish A-Z
Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide
About the author

Hey! I'm Nicolas from Iguane Media !

Blogger and Owner of the betta care fish guide
Thanks for reading this blog

I'm an Animal Lover

Leave a Comment