Top 5 Dither Fish to help Shy Or Aggressive Fish

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 outgoing and will swim 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. The presence of large numbers of ditherfish helps to diffuse and distract fish bullies from focusing 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.


1. Livebearers

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. 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 schooling fish groups are well-known for their sleek, torpedo-shaped bodies. They can escape from even the most angry tank bosses with ease. 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. 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.

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. These suggestions are categorized according to size depending on your needs:

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 can confuse predators since they find it harder to catch one fish when there are a lot of them.

There’s nothing quite like watching a large group of rummy nose tetras swimming in perfect synchronization.

3. Corydoras

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, which are larger than blood parrots and can swallow smaller corys well, is a good choice for you. You can actually keep corys, livebearers and tetras together in a tank with dither fish.

Albino are the most social catfish you’ll find. They love frozen bloodworms, freeze dried tubifex worms, sinking pellets, and freeze-dried tubifex.

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 confident, colorful and calm schooling species that can help calm other more anxious species.

Hill trout can swim quickly in fast-flowing streams and are therefore best paired with faster fish that may be outcompeted at 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 ideal for Apistogramma dwarf and ram cichlids, which are protecting their babies below the substrate. Hatchetfish or pencilfish rarely make it down to eat and will not eat fry unless they are accidentally swam up on 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.