Wrestling Halfbeak

Wrestling Halfbeak
Species NameDermogenys pusilla
Common NameWrestling Halfbeak, Wrestling Livebearer
Care LevelModerate
LifespanUp to 3 years
Adult SizeUp to 3.5 inches (8.9 cm)
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Temperature75°F – 82°F (24°C – 28°C)
Water ConditionspH 7.0-8.5, Soft to slightly hard, Freshwater

About the Wrestling Halfbeak – Species Summary

Native to the freshwaters of Southeast Asia, the Wrestling Halfbeak is a unique species distinguished by its peculiar mouth and surface-dwelling behavior. Found in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, this fish graces calm, slow-moving waters such as rice paddies, marshes, and ponds. The name “Wrestling” was derived from the distinct male-to-male combat these fish display when establishing dominance, akin to a wrestling match. With a slender body and elongated lower jaw, they stand out in aquarium setups, making them a favorite among hobbyists looking for something different.

Wrestling Halfbeak Lifespan

A Wrestling Halfbeak can live up to 3 years under appropriate care. Like many species, their longevity is directly influenced by the conditions of their environment, including diet, water parameters, and the overall health of the tank.


The most distinguishing feature of the Wrestling Halfbeak is its peculiar mouth – the lower jaw is distinctly longer than the upper one, almost resembling a bird’s beak. This adaptation is useful for their surface-dwelling habits, helping them snatch up insect larvae and other small creatures that hover near the water’s surface. Their bodies are slender and somewhat translucent, typically adorned with silvery or iridescent hues and occasional pale striping or spotting.

Average Size

When fully mature, the Wrestling Halfbeak can reach lengths of up to 3.5 inches or about 8.9 centimeters.

Wrestling Halfbeak Care

Tank Size

Given their active nature, a minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for these swimmers. Larger tanks provide ample swimming space, allowing them to display their natural behaviors without restriction.

How To Set Up Their Tank

Recreating their natural environment is the key to a thriving Wrestling Halfbeak tank. Opt for a gentle filter to simulate calm waters and place it at one end to create a slight flow. A sand or fine-gravel substrate works well, complemented by live plants like Java Moss and Water Sprite which offer refuge and enhance water quality. Given their surface-dwelling nature, it’s crucial to have a tight-fitting lid to prevent potential jump-outs.

Lighting Requirements

Wrestling Halfbeaks aren’t too particular about lighting. A moderate light that mimics natural day-night cycles is sufficient. If live plants are added, ensure they receive the light necessary for photosynthesis.


Maintaining a pH level between 7.0 to 8.5 ensures a conducive environment for the Wrestling Halfbeak.


A stable temperature range of 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C) is optimal for this tropical species.

Water Parameters

Clean, well-oxygenated water is vital for these fish. Regularly check ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, ensuring they remain within safe limits. Soft to slightly hard water conditions work best.

Disease Potential

Like most freshwater fish, Wrestling Halfbeaks are susceptible to common diseases like Ich, fin rot, and various parasites. Regular monitoring, maintaining water quality, and quarantining new tank additions can mitigate most health risks.

Food & Diet

Being omnivores, they have a varied appetite. A mixture of high-quality flake foods, live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and insect larvae, as well as occasional plant matter, will keep them in optimal health.

Behavior and Temperament

Known for their peaceful nature, Wrestling Halfbeaks can, however, be somewhat territorial, especially males during breeding periods. They’re active swimmers, mostly staying near the surface, awaiting their next meal or engaging in playful pursuits.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates, consider similarly-sized peaceful species. Good companions include small tetras, rasboras, and some types of gouramis. Avoid overly aggressive or large fish that might see the Halfbeak as prey.


Breeding Wrestling Halfbeaks is a rewarding venture. Once a pair is formed, they engage in a unique “wrestling” ritual, after which the female gives birth to live young. To increase breeding success, a separate breeding tank with plenty of plants for the fry to hide can be set up. Regular feeding with nutritious foods and maintaining optimal water conditions can enhance breeding rates.

Wrestling Halfbeak FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)