"Stellar was a 'catch-up' trade after ripple's recent surge," Ari Paul, chief investment officer at cryptocurrency investment firm BlockTower Capital, said in an email.
Ripple surged 35,500 percent to $2.30 last year. It has climbed more than 25 percent this year.
"Stellar was founded by ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb and is a very similar protocol to ripple," Paul said. "Both stellar and ripple have benefited from sharply rising bitcoin fees, since both are optimized for fast and cheap transactions."
Stellar and ripple are both networks that seek to allow efficient cross-border payments. Their transactions settle in seconds, according to their websites, while bitcoin transactions typically take at least an hour.
Bitcoin, the largest and most well-known digital currency, traded about 9.5 percent higher near $15,146, still about 23 percent below its record high hit in mid-December, according to Coinbase. At that high, bitcoin had gained 1,900 percent for 2017.
But bitcoin ended the year only about 1,300 percent higher. It is underperforming other digital currencies so far in 2018 with gains of less than 10 percent.
"There has certainly been a change in the thinking of crypto hedge fund managers in what will give them the best return," said Joe DiPasquale, founder and CEO of BitBull Capital, a cryptofund that invests in other cryptofunds.
He said the funds his firm tracks were reducing their bitcoin weighting from around 60 percent to around 35 to 40 percent. BitBull has about $20 million in assets under management.