Four-Eyed Fish

Anableps, Largescale Foureyes, Star Gazer

Family: Anablepidae Picture of a Four-Eyed Fish or Anableps anablepsAnableps anablepsPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Ken Childs
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Wonderful to own, not quite as easy to breed. Finally caught a birth on film, only to lose all of the fry. Their personalities are amazing and they do "see"... (more)  Meredith

   The Four-Eyed Fish, Anableps anableps is an unusual South American livebearer. This unique fish may not really have 4 eyes, but it might as well!

The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps, is truly an amazing creature. The pupil in each eye is horizontally divided into 2 parts, allowing it to be able to see clearly below and above the water. Other common names it is known by include Anableps, Largescale Foureyes, Star Gazer, Four-eyes, and Striped Foureyed Fish.

Its unique eye adaptation allows this fish to find food at or below the surface. It also has the added benefit of giving it extra protection against predators. Since it spends virtually all of its life swimming at the surface, it needs this extra protection.

They are a schooling fish so they will do best if kept in groups of 6 or more. The Four-Eyed Fish are also a brackish fish. Other brackish fish such as Archer Fish, Mudskippers or Mollies would make good tank mates.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Freshwater Aquarium


Geographic Distribution
Anableps anableps
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cyprinodontiformes
  • Family: Anablepidae
  • Genus: Anableps
  • Species: anableps
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Four-Eyed Fish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 85.0° F (23.9 to 29.4° C)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

   The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps are native to Central America and live in the mouths of rivers from Venezuela to Brazil.

  • Scientific Name: Anableps anableps
  • Social Grouping: Groups - Keeping this fish in a school is essential to their well being
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Fish Keeping Difficulty

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult - This fish is susceptible to bacterial skin infections which are difficult to cure. It will also jump out of the tank if startled, so a tight fitting lid is critical.
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

   The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps are carnivorous. Anableps anableps should be fed freeze–dried foods, flake foods and small live insects. They will also eat frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms but be aware that they will not readily chase food much below the surface of the water so make sure any uneaten food does not get a chance to foul the water.
   While they will do fine in a tank that's completely full, they are best appreciated if kept in a tank that is only partially filled. This way their unusual eyes can be seen. They enjoy a lot of open space to swim but are excellent jumpers so the aquarium must be covered. Because in their natural environment they live at or near the mouths of rivers, their tank water should be brackish. For how to prepare the water, see the information in the aquarium glossary under brackish.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - This fish should be kept very well fed or else it will not grow properly. Also note that they will often only eat what is at the surface and will rarely go farther down into the tank to chase after food, so ensure they are getting enough to eat at the surface and that food that falls below doesn't accumulate and toxify as it decomposes.

Aquarium Care

  • Water Changes: Monthly

Aquarium Setup

   As the Four-Eyed Fish are brackish, enough salt should be added to simulate brackish water. For how to prepare the water, see the information in the aquarium glossary under brackish.
   Ph and hardness are not critical, acceptable levels are variable.
 

  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 85.0° F (23.9 to 29.4° C)
  • Range ph: 7.0-8.5
  • Hardness Range: 8 - 25 dGH
  • Brackish: Yes - This fish must be kept in brackish conditions.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Top

Social Behaviors

   The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps are peaceful but will eat fish that are small enough to fit into their mouths. They are also a schooling fish and do best in groups of six or more. As they thrive in a brackish water environment, other similar sized brackish fish such as Archer Fish, Mudskippers or Mollies would make good tank mates.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful - Four-Eyed Fish will eat tankmates large enough to fit in their mouths. Furthermore, keeping them in a school is essential to their well being.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - Keep them with other community fish that are not small enough to become a meal.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive

Sex: Sexual differences

   The males of this species have a gonopodium.

Breeding / Reproduction

   The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps are a livebearer and will breed easily if kept in a large tank with lots of surface area. See the description of how to breed livebearers in Breeding Freshwater Fish - Livebearers.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate - This fish requries a large tank with a lot of surface area to breed.

Availability

   The Four-Eyed Fish Anableps anableps are commonly available.

References

Animal-World References

Author: Ken Childs, Clarice Brough CFS
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Lastest Animal Stories on Four-Eyed Fish

Meredith - 2006-02-23
Wonderful to own, not quite as easy to breed. Finally caught a birth on film, only to lose all of the fry. Their personalities are amazing and they do "see" outside the tank to the entire environment.

  • Ryan\'s - 2012-03-31
    Were do I buy these fish!?
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