The Spotted Headstander is a very interesting fish, but it is not seen very frequently in the hobby. This is probably because a) the majority of these fish in the hobby come from the wild, and b) they can be difficult to get to adjust and thrive in an aquarium. In the wild these fish come from throughout the Amazon River drainage, and their native waters are always very soft and acid. While the fish farmers in the Far East have acclimated them to water that is neutral with moderate hardness, most of the Spotted Headstanders come from the wild, and require soft and acid water.
The fish itself is a silvery color, with each scale on the body outlined with black, giving an overall impression of check marks more than spots. There is a faint black line running on the middle of the side from eye to tail. The most recognizable characteristic of the Spotted Headstander is that it always swims in a 45 degree downward facing angle – thus the name “headstander.”
These are very peaceful fish, with a very small mouth, which is the major problem in getting them to thrive in an aquarium. They require very small, preferable live or frozen foods; they will virtually never take any regular dry prepared foods. Unless you are prepared to give them the foods that they require, you really should not purchase this fish. This also is a problem with the Spotted Headstander in local fish stores. Unless the store is very competent and pays a lot of attention to their fish, and they have gotten their Spotted Headstanders from a distributor who also makes sure they are well fed, many of the Spotted Headstanders you see offered for sale are well on their way to starving to death. If you do want to purchase some it is best to have the store feed them in your presence, so you can be sure that they are eating. .