April 17

Rummy Nose Tetra Feeding, Breeding and Care Guide


Rummy Nose Tetra

The rummy nose tetra (scientific name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus) is very well-known in fishkeeping circles. This fish species that came from Latin America is a favorite choice for use as an aquarium fish. A typical rummy nose tetra is under the classification of a tropical freshwater fish, and at maturity, it is about five centimeters in length. There are various features of the rummy nose tetra that makes it a highly preferred choice for aquarists. Each of these features will be discussed in this piece.

Location and Origin

Rummy nose tetra is found all over the tropics, and the three primary species are called the rummy nose tetras (Hemmigrammus rhodostomus (frequently referred to as the Firehead Tetra). Others are Hemmigrammusbleheri (also known as the brilliant or common rummy nose tetra) and Petitellageorgiae which is better known as the false rummy nose) are all found naturally occurring in different places in Latin America especially around Brazil.

These include the Lower and Upper Amazon basins, Orinoco River, and the Rio Negro, Rio Purus, and Rio Madeira basins and it is from these areas that the rummy nose tetras are imported to fill aquariums across the globe. All these three types are very similar and are difficult to tell apart by simple observation.

Rummy nose tetra prefers to live in the part of the rivers where there is a relatively low mineral composition, high level of acidity, and decaying organic matter. In some cases, aquatic plants inhabit these parts of the river. These plants reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates the water and in turn, create the conditions that the rummy nose tetras find ideal. This explains why similar settings are replicated in the aquarium.

Physical Features

A rummy nose tetra has a unique bullet shape and, on the dorsal side, the body is typically glossy silver, and some have blots of green embedded in their scales. The tail fin has horizontal stripes in white (four) and black (usually three).

As for the head, it is typically bright blood red, and the red also covers the eyes. There are no apparent physical differences that can be used to differentiate the males from the females apart from the prominent body weight in the mature females. But for those who can take their time to observe, there are some little differences in the shape of the abdomens in both sexes as females tend to have a bulge in theirs.

Life Span

When properly handled, rummy nose tetras can live for as much as six years in an aquarium. Records show that some have even lived for almost a decade.


The rummy nose tetra is not picky when it comes to food. The species love to consume a relatively diverse array of meals alongside live fish meals. They are just cool with frozen, live, or even artificial meals but ensure that whatever you are feeding them with is of the highest level of quality and nutritional value. Just as it is the case with several other tetras, rummy nose tetras love live bloodworms (which are the water-dwelling larvae of a midge). They will also happily eat live Daphnia, which is a family of small planktonic crustaceans.

The exciting thing is that there is a unique feature with the rummy nose tetra when it comes to feeding. This is because, unlike other tetras, rummy nose tetras are not fond of live mosquito larvae. But in some cases, rummy nose tetras will take mosquito larvae, but it is not their first choice when it comes to meals.

Another impressive feature with the feeding of rummy nose tetras is that they love feeding in the posterior and central parts of the aquarium, not the parts close to the surface. Other foods like tubifex worms, dried flakes, or granules are also good options. There is a direct correlation between the quality of their meals and the appearance of the rummy nose tetra.


Handling the Aquarium

You need to get a protective net, and the water for breeding should be turbid to some extent. Coarse grains are for the bottom of the aquarium; finer grains are the best.

The good thing with the three species of the rummy nose tetra is that their aquariums are handled pretty much the same way. It is essential to state that the reason for this is that rummy nose tetra is a schooling fish and it always reflects the close tight schooling features either in captivity or in its natural habitat.

As a result of this feature of the rummy nose tetra, the best thing to do in the aquariums is to arrange in sets of not less than six in each. They tend to establish order on their own and relate with one another on their terms. In cases where more stay in the same space, it is better to maintain a ratio of around 25 gallons for every 80-liter aquarium.

All types of rummy nose tetra prefer warm water so you should never forget to keep the temperature range of the aquarium water stably maintained between 24 degrees Celsius and 31 degrees Celsius. In some cases, and for breeding, the temperature range on the high end can be up to 33 degrees Celsius.

What this means is that you cannot combine rummy nose tetra with other fish species that prefer colder water. It is crucial when it comes to choosing aquarium mates for the rummy nose tetra. You should select aquarium mates that prefer the same warm temperature range with the rummy nose tetra. You can also throw in a few snails as aquarium mates but be very observant because these mollusks can consume all the plants.

For the sake of maintenance of the aquarium, the pH of the water can be kept in the range of 5.6 to 7.4. But, in cases where breeding of the young is the main task, specifically acidic water should be used for the rummy nose tetra. It is also a good idea for you to add some plants to the aquarium as rummy nose tetra love such leafy companions. Also, because rummy nose tetras are extremely sensitive to ammonia and other protein metabolites, it is never a bad idea to make use of external filtration units.


    When it comes to reproduction, expect some challenging hurdles with the rummy nose tetras, and this is true even if you are a master aquarist. Breeding rummy nose tetras are problematic because:

    Fertility rates of the fishes depend on placing them in water that has a carefully calibrated level of calcium. Apart from this, the fishes you are grooming to become parents have to be obligatorily kept in acidic water all of their lives if they are to reproduce at all. Not doing this can jeopardize any reproductive success right from the very beginning. Remember, these fishes are susceptible to the chemical composition of the water.

    The fry does not grow swiftly. Even after an aquarist gets the reproduction stages right, the fry will give you another headache, so you should get set. Of all the fishes in the characin family or common aquarium choices, the fry of the rummy nose tetra is notorious for having the slowest growth rate of all.

    For almost one month, you have to pamper the fry with infusoria or other meals, and in some instances, you may have to do this for up to three months before the fry can start taking newer and bigger portions of meals. And as if that is not enough, their growth rates are heavily dependent on the conditions of temperature in the aquarium. Studies show that the chances of success are highest when the fry are in a temperature condition above 30 degree Celsius for around the first 90 days.

    You may have to continue this for up to half a year before the fry can reach the juvenile stage and start consuming live Daphnia frequently. As you are doing this, you must always pay very close attention to the chemicals and minerals present in the water. It is because this fish is susceptible to the chemical composition of the water at all stages of its life and presents considerable challenges to you the aquarist.

    Males and females look so similar that merely looking at them, you cannot tell which is which. It can make the pairing of mates difficult except you are lucky enough to see a pregnant female that is suitable for matching.

    Specific light requirements: Even though rummy nose tetras love to do their spawning in leafy environments, this presents a dilemma to you because many of the plant species loved by the fishes do better when exposed to light. A comprehensive solution to this is making use of Java moss, a popular feature in many freshwater aquariums.

    Apart from the points above, you also need to decontaminate the aquarium because the eggs released by the rummy nose tetra are incredibly susceptible to fungal and bacterial pathogens. It is essential to note this and act appropriately immediately spawning is done. The parent fishes must also be fed voraciously with live foods as this is good and necessary for maximizing their reproductive success.

    The parent fishes should be placed in the breeding tank one week before they spawn. While in the breeding tank, introduce a lot of live foods and ensure the light is dim. Parent rummy nose tetras love spawning in a quiet environment so all must be done to keep them away from any source of noise. Then the temperature should be raised until it reaches about 32 degrees Celsius. Since the spawning occurs under dim lights, you are most likely not going to notice it.

    Even though rummy nose tetras are not known for eating their eggs, it is still remarkable for you to get the parents out once the spawning phase ends. Here, antifungal preparations should be included to protect the notoriously vulnerable eggs.

    After the spawning phase is over, the best thing to do is to ensure the light for the aquarium remains on low intensity. It should be the cause until the eggs hatch, and the fry can be seen swimming on their own. Although it is unnecessary to keep the eggs of rummy nose tetras in pitch darkness (as is seen with some other tetras), their eggs too area reactive to light to some extent. Therefore, it is best to ensure the breeding phase is under dim light conditions.

    Under temperature conditions maintained at 32 degrees Celsius, rummy nose tetra eggs will take up to four days before they finally hatch. After the hatching, the fry will stay for another two or three days consuming the yolk sac, and after that, they can start swimming on their own. Once you notice this, the next thing to do is to prepare an egg layer meal for the fry. The water should also be changed partially regularly – about one-tenth of the tank volume is recommended for replacement every one or two days.


    Apart from the areas highlighted earlier, the point where one has to be most careful in handling the rummy nose tetra is when their eggs have. Exceptional care has to go into the handling of the fry if they are to mature or even live at all. Be free to call for help from more experienced aquarists at this stage if you are not too sure of the steps to take.


    As long as you maintain the standard requirements, you can have your fishes in optimal health conditions. But there are sometimes that even your best efforts may not be enough and before you know it, the rummy nose tetras will be down with one disease or the other.

    Some of the most prevalent diseases seen with the rummy nose tetras are ich (better known as white spot disease, it is the common name for fish parasite Ichthyophthiriusmultifiliis) and dropsy (where the fish swells up). If these diseases continue, they can wipe off large fish populations in a relatively short period.

    You can quickly notice if something is wrong with the rummy nose tetra by checking their color as they become pale when sick or stressed.


    Rummy nose tetras are very sensitive to changes in the environment so as an aquarist if you can be very observant, you will know when there are issues in the aquarium. For example, when the aquarium has excess biological wastes, the red color around the eyes the of rummy nose tetras become high in intensity. Whenever there is an unusual change in any of the regular patterns, as an aquarist, you must not ignore any of them. Ignoring the warning signals will only lead to more significant problems or even a total loss of the fish stock.

    Also, when the time comes for the water in the tank or aquarium to be changed, the redness reduces and becomes deep again once fresh and clean water is in the aquarium. So, with careful observation of just the redness of the rummy nose tetras, an aquarist can accurately gauge the level of wastes present in the water and when the water is due for a change or replacement. Some aquarists decide to buy meters and other devices to monitor all these changes from time to time.

    Rummy nose tetras present no problems when places with other tetra species; they do not like to have positions changed. Some rummy nose tetras died during the process of movement or in their new locations. Although these fishes are very peaceful, they are also very delicate. Just moving them alone can paralyze them or make them lose their very flashy appearance.

    Rummy nose tetras are most active as groups, and they can sometimes show off their outlandish swimming displays. But do not overcrowd your aquarium, these catchy fishes need a lot of room to swim around. Whenever they are tired or stressed, they prefer to seek solace under the plants. All these features make the rummy nose tetras easier to track, monitor, and observe.

    Aquarium mates

    As hinted earlier, all species of the rummy nose tetra love warm water, and because of this, the best aquarium mates are those that also prefer the same warm water temperature range. Some fish species that are considered excellent aquarium mates for the rummy nose tetra include:

    Another reason why these particular fishes are preferred is that they all prefer acidic water with little mineral composition. That said, rummy nose tetras are not aggressive, and this is one of the reasons why many aquarists will go for them before any other species. Never place rummy nose tetras in the same aquarium with bigger and more aggressive species. These fishes do not like any form of stress, and it will be best if you can adhere to this.


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