Abramites hypselonotus (headstander)

Abramites hypselonotus

Abramites hypselonotus, also called the marbled headstander or the high-backed headstander, is a member of the family Anostomidae of the order Characiformes. Under normal fish classifying rules you would gather from its upturned mouth and long streamlined body that the marbled headstander is a surface dweller. In reality marbled headstanders, like all headstanders, inhabit the middle and lower portions of the aquarium. In the wild, head standers are often found face down, tail up in narrow vertical rocky fissures.


Marble headstanders are generally identified by their pointed snout, diamond-shaped body, brown markings on pelvic fin, wavy dark brown bands, and a dark line at the base of the caudal peduncle.
The marble headstanders full adult size is roughly 5″ (13 cm).

Distribution and habitat

The marbled headstander generally inhabits streams and rivers of the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. Headstanders in general inhabit very fast flowing waters in rocky stretches of river.

Diet and feeding behaviour

The marble headstander is a predominately herbivorous fish and as such should be given a high vegetation diet. In addition to processed food, they will readily accept, and probably enjoy lettuce leaves, and peas. They will also accept mosquito larvae and bloodworms.

Aquarium care

In the aquarium the marble headstander is generally a peaceful inhabitant. They are completely docile as juveniles both towards other fish and members of their own species. Once older keep either a single headstander or a group of seven or more in a tank as they tend to fight amongst themselves in smaller groups. They are still generally peaceful towards other fish.
Keep marble headstanders in a rocky, heavily planted aquarium with many cracks and crevices for them to explore. Note: if there is not enough vegetation in its diet, it will devour aquarium plants. On the other hand, you can use this to your advantage if you want to set up a “self-sustaining aquarium” (Please keep in mind this is not an easy task. Do not just throw a bunch of plants in and think it will be fine).

Temperature, pH, and salinity

These fish can tolerate a pH from 6-7.5, but prefer slightly acidic water. They like soft water ranging from 2-15 dH, and require a temperature of 73-82 °F (23-28 °C).