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Rummy Nose Tetras: Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

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The rummy nose tetra is an excellent addition to any freshwater tank. It is a very peaceful little fish and will add some extra color to your aquarium. 

Read on to learn more about the rummy nose tetra so you can give them the ideal living conditions.

Rummy Nose Tetra Care Guide

Scientific Name:Hemigrammus Bleheri
Common Names:Brilliant Rummy Nose Tetra or Common Rummy Nose Tetra or Firehead Tetra
Size2-2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size:20 Gallons
Rummy-nose tetra

The rummy nose tetra is a popular choice amongst freshwater aquariums. They are small in size at about 2.5 inches, have a peaceful nature, and they are also easy to take care of. They also add a splash of color to any community tank.

Appearance & Temperament


Rummy nose tetras are smaller on the spectrum of freshwater fish and they can only grow up to 2.5 inches.

However, most of this breed only end up growing about 2 inches. Their small size and peaceful temperament make them great for community tanks.

Colors and Markings

The tummy nose tetra has a torpedo-shaped body, with a slender profile. Although most of their body is silver, they do have a deep red head. 

Almost as prominent as their head is their caudal fins, which have black and white zebra-like stripes. Besides their caudal fin, the rest of their fins are short and clear. 

Gender Differences

Unfortunately sexing rummy nose tetras is extremely difficult to do, as there is no sure way to determine their sex by looking. Although some believe that a female rummy nose tetra has a slightly larger body.

Others say the males have more slender bodies with a characteristic hook on the rear fin whereas females are small in size and have rounded abdomens.


The average lifespan for a rummy nose tetra is between 5 to 8 years in captivity. The two biggest factors that affect how long they will live are diet and water conditions. With proper care, consistent water conditions and a good diet the rummy nose tetra will live a full life.


Rummy nose tetras are known to be very peaceful fish that won’t bother others. They are very social fish that actually establish bonds with others.  Rummy nose tetras are very rarely found swimming alone as they like to be part of larger groups. 

This makes them a great addition to community tanks. However these fish can be easily stressed out due to much larger fish, this is due to their tiny size. 

An interesting fact about the rummy nose tetras is that they have a burst and coast swimming style. When they are doing this they will flick their tails a few times and then glide through the water.

This swimming style can conserve their energy and enhance their sensory functions.

Diet & Feeding in Your Aquarium

In the wild, the rummy nose are omnivores, they will eat small plants, insects, or eggs and larvae. Giving them a similar diet at home is very easy to do through just flakes and pellets, as this supplies them with adequate nutrients that they need. 

Flakes and pellets should be the majority of their diet with a treat of live or frozen foods a few times a week.

Doing so will not only give your rummy nose tetras a variety in their diet but will also supply them with extra protein. Great examples of live or frozen food to give your rummy nose tetra would be bloodworms or daphnia.

Even adding green vegetables to their diet is a healthy option, just make sure to cut them in small pieces. Even adding some plants into your tank that they can eat, they will eat small bits of plant materials this way.

It is recommended to feed rummy nose tetras twice a day. This allows them to digest their food better as they are so small.

Make sure only to feed them what they consume within two minutes, and always remove excess food so it doesn’t decay.

Tank Mates for a Tetra Tank

As previously stated, the rummy nose tetra are peaceful fish that do well in community tanks. Rummy nose tetras are shoaling fish and should be in groups of at least 6, however, there are many different fish that they will coexist peacefully with. Great examples of tank mates are:

  • Guppies
  • Danios
  • Other tetras
  • Platys
  • Mollies
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Hatchetfish
  • Corydoras Catfish

Rummy nose tetras not only get along great with smaller fish like the ones listed above, but they can also live peacefully with snails and shrimps as well!

Even though these small peaceful fish have many possibilities when it comes to tank mates some should be avoided. Aggressive fish as well as large fish should be avoided. 

Larger fish tend to easily stress rummy nose tetras. Aggressive fish, especially larger ones, will prey on or eat your rummy nose tetras, as their distinct markings make them a target.

Examples of fish to avoid with rummy nose tetras are:

  • Cichlids
  • Oscars
  • Jack Dempsey

Tank Setup & Tank Conditions

When setting up a tank for freshwater fish, you’ll want to replicate their natural habitat as much as possible.

This not only helps your fish live a long happy life, but can also prevent them from stress, disease, or death.

In the wild, rummy nose tetras can be found in slow-flowing rivers that are soft and acidic. The following water parameters are what you will need to have your tank conditioned for them.

Water Parameters:

  • Temperature: Rummy nose tetras are used to warmer waters, so you should have the temperature in your tank within the range of 75-84°F.
  • pH Levels: In the wild, the waters they inhabit are more acidic due to decaying matter and vegetation from plants. A suitable pH level for rummy nose tetras is a range of 5.5- 7.
  • Water Hardness- To mimic the soft waters they originate, a water hardness between 2-6 Kh is suitable.

It is very important to maintain water parameters for your rummy nose tetras, they are very sensitive to changes in water conditions.

This can lead to health problems as well as stress, both of which can ultimately result in death.

Besides water parameters, the setup of the tank itself is also very important! This can ensure a happy long life for your rummy nose tetras.

However, keep in mind that these small fish like to have plenty of room to swim around, and you’ll need to have at least a 20-gallon tank for them.

Rummy nose tetras are shoaling fish that need to be in groups of at least 6 of their own kind. Although the larger the group the happier they will be, you will need to increase your tank size the more you add. 10 rummy nose tetras will live comfortably in a 20-gallon tank by themselves.

The general rule of two gallons per 1 rummy nose tetra for adding more in your tank.

Shoal of rummy-nose tetras

When picking a substrate for your tank, you have different options as rummy nose tetras tend to stay in the middle level of the tank.

However, if wanting to replicate their natural habitat, you’ll want to pick a sandy bottom as this is what they are used to in the wild. They are not known to be diggers, so even the use of gravel would be safe to use.

Plants are a great addition to your tank for rummy nose tetras. They love to swim around plants and hide in them.

Another reason plants are great for rummy nose tetras is that they offer shade from brighter lights and can reduce stress by giving them this relief.

However you will want to ensure they have plenty of room to swim around, so don’t overcrowd the tank with plants.

In the wild, they are used to slow current waters, so it would be best to have a filter system set up that won’t cause too much movement for them.

Also, standard lighting in your tank is suitable as the plants that you added will provide shade and relief when needed. 

Breeding Rummy Nose Tetra Fish

Although rummy nose tetras are difficult to sex, breeding them is not difficult with the proper conditions for spawning. However, it is a trial and error process when trying to select pairs to mate as it is difficult to sex them. 

The best option is to put many together to have a greater chance of having both genders for pairs. The female rummy nose tetra will reach sexual maturity after she has grown to about an inch.

Rummy nose tetras do need proper conditions for spawning and this will need to happen in order to encourage spawning. Also, the fry of this breed are going to need extra care in order to ensure survival.

You will want to raise the temperature of the water to about 84 degrees because rummy nose tetras are oviparous fish, meaning they will scatter their eggs. A pH level of about 6.6 -6.8 is suitable for spawning, also ensuring the water is on the softer side.

Another step in initiating the breeding process is to start feeding your rummy nose tetra a protein-rich diet before breeding. You will want to make sure you have plenty of large leaf plants in the tank where they will breed. 

These large leaves are where the spawning will occur as well as where the female will lay her eggs. You will also want to opt for dimmer lighting as the young fry are more sensitive to light.

Rummy nose tetras will start breeding when the female swims to a leaf and essentially flips over. After the female does this the male will swim to her to fertilize the eggs. Once the eggs have been fertilized, the female will lay her eggs on a large leaf. The female will lay about five to eight larger eggs at a time.

After about 24 hours, the eggs will hatch, at this time you’ll want to remove the male fish from the tank as they may eat the eggs or the fry.

For the first few days, the fry lives off the egg sac and will swim around after this. You’ll need to feed the fry a specialized powder solution as food, or infusia for proper growth.

Once the fry are large enough to survive, they can be put back within the community tank if you desire. It will take about six months for the fry to grow into mature adults.

Rummy-Nose Tetra Origin & Natural Habitat

The rummy nose tetra is a small but very popular freshwater aquarium fish. They originate from acidic slow current waters in South America.

Found more specifically in the Amazon River. There are three different kinds of rummy nose tetras, and they all occupy different regions of the Amazon River. 

Not only do the different species of rummy nose tetras live in different sections of the basin they also appear very alike but there are some differences. The three kinds of Rummy nose Tetras are:

  • The True Rummy Nose Tetra: The rummy nose tetra tends to be found in the Orinoco River, closer to the Atlantic coast. This rummy nose tetra has the standard striped tail and red nose.
  • The False Rummy Nose Tetra: Normally found in the upper regions of the basin, more towards Brazil and Peru. This rummy nose tetra is typically further away from the coast. This rummy nose tetra has a smaller red nose, as well as a black stripe on the tail that goes up half the body.
  • The Common Rummy Nose: This rummy nose tetra is found in the middle level of the blackwater tributary of the Amazon River, between Colombia and Venezuela. This rummy nose tetra has more red on their head that goes past the gill plate.
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