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. Dither fish are confident and show that they don’t fear danger. Dither fish can also be used to disarm and diffuse fish-bullying aggression so they don’t have to pick 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

The livebearers are fish that can bear young and are friendly and colorful. Their eggs are prolific and can be found anywhere they want. When skittish fish see these intrepid livebearer babies, they are even more likely to come out.

To break up tension between two angelfish, you can add a few mollies, swordtails or other large livebearers to help them fight. The livebearers can swim all over the place, and will easily encroach on their personal 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. The angelfish will eat livebearer fry if they are too close to their territory, but this keeps them from becoming overrun by 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. Some rasboras and tetras can be wary, as they are usually less than 3 inches in length. 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, in particular, are very tight-searing fish that swim together and change their direction as a large herd. This behavior confuses predators as they are less likely to catch a single fish surrounded by multiple doppelgangers.

Nothing is more beautiful than watching large groups of rummy-nose Tetras gracefully swimming in 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. This makes them a wonderful dither fish for other bottom dwellers like Apistogramma and kribensis cichlids who want to know when it’s safe for their babies to come out and 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. In fact, you can keep livebearers, tetras, and corys all together in a community tank that is filled with lively 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 and Rainbowfish

Jack Dempsey or oscar-cichlids, both medium-sized to large-sized predators, can sometimes be shy and easily distracted. For these cases, larger, more agile schooling fish are needed, such as giant danios and hill trouts (Devario Aequipinnatus). that have a better chance of escaping their jaws. By actively darting around at a million miles an hour and breaking into everyone’s territories, these dither fish give off the message that “I’m a smaller fish, yet I find it safe to freely swim out in the open.” If you have a jumpy bala shark that tends to freak out and ram into walls, you can also try dither fish to help it settle down. Rainbowfish are a confident, colorful and calm schooling species that can help calm other more anxious species.

Hill trout are speedy swimmers capable of traveling in fast-flowing streams, so try not to pair them with slower fish who may get outcompeted during mealtimes.

5. Hatchetfish and Pencilfish

What if you have timid fish you want to spawn, but you don’t want the dither fish to eat their babies? 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 perfect for ram or Apistogramma dwarf cichlids that are guarding their babies down near the substrate. Pencilfish and hatchetfish are not likely to come down to feed, and they won’t eat fry if they happen to be swimming 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 are known for swimming near the surface at a 45-degree angle, which is why they are sometimes called 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.