In the early 1950’s, an aquarist by the name of Sam Dadiburjor became the first to collect and breed a small species of fish which lived in the streams near Kochi, on the Malabar coast of India. Unsure of this fish’s identity, he sent specimens to an expert on the region’s fauna, who went on to name this species after its discoverer, Laubuca dadiburjori.
This small group, comprised of Neochela, Chela, and Laubuka (spelled with a “k” now), is closely related to the giant danios in the genus Devario and dwarf rasboras in the genus Microrasbora, but differs in having a somewhat keeled abdomen (like the true hatchetfishes of the Amazon). This is an adaptation for their surface dwelling lifestyle, and, like the true hatchetfishes, these are more than capable of jumping out of an open aquarium when startled.
Fully grown, the Orange Hatchet Danio is little more than an inch long and boasts a beautiful yellow body and a dark stripe along its midline. Like others in this family, it naturally occurs in large shoals, and this should be replicated to as great an extent as possible in captivity to encourage its natural behavior. Small invertebrates are the major part of its diet, and specimens will accept most any dry or frozen food of appropriate size. Females spawn on vegetation regularly, and, as Mr. Dadiburjor proved decades ago, it’s not especially difficult to raise the juveniles.
This peaceful little minnow is a perfect addition to smaller planted aquariums, especially those home to peaceful tankmates. For a biotope inspired by its home in Kerala, India, try mixing it with its close cyprinid relatives, Devario, Danio, and Barillius, along with Garra and Nemacheilus as bottom-feeders, and perhaps a Dwarf Pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) or the Golden Wonder Killifish (Aplocheilus lineatus), though, be careful, as this latter choice might eventually grow large enough to eat the diminutive Neochela.