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. Their confident behavior signifies to shy fish that there is no immediate danger and it is safe to come out of hiding. 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.
Livebearers are fish that bear live young, and most of the common types at the pet store (e.g., guppies, platies, and mollies) are extremely friendly and colorful. Their eggs are prolific and can be found anywhere they want. 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 will be able to swim around and easily invade their space. The angelfish will not be able to keep every dither fish from entering their territory. Therefore, it is possible for them to give up trying hard to maintain their boundaries. 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 exhibit a caring, easygoing disposition that can help semiaggressive species like angelfish relax.
2. Tetras and Rasboras
Both groups of schooling fish are known for their streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies that make them fast enough to escape even the angriest tank boss. Although they are small, some rasboras, tetras, and some rasboras, can be quite wary. 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. Here are some options based on 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 can confuse predators since they find it harder to catch one fish when there are a lot of them.
There’s nothing like seeing a huge group of rummy-nose tetras beautifully swimming back and forth in 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 are great clean-up crew members that do well in a group of 6 or more of their own species, and there are many kinds to choose from. 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 among the friendliest catfish that you will find. They love to eat frozen bloodworms and freeze-dried tubifex, as well as 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.) that have a better chance of escaping their jaws. Dither fish can be seen darting around at a millionmph and breaking into people’s territory. This gives the impression that they are smaller than other fish and allows them to communicate that. Rainbowfish, a calm and confident schooling fish that swims around calmly and can be used to calm nervous 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 ideal for Apistogramma dwarf and ram cichlids, which are protecting their babies below 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 well-known for their ability to swim at a 45-degree angle near the surface. They are also known as 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.